Exodus is an American thrash metal band from Richmond, California. Founded in 1981, the band consisted of Kirk Hammett, Tom Hunting, Paul Baloff and Gary Holt.
Since its formation, Exodus has released ten studio albums, two live albums, and two compilations. Along with Testament, Metallica, and guitarist Kirk Hammett, who founded Exodus, the band is considered a pioneer of the Bay Area thrash metal scene and has sold over 5 million albums worldwide. Exodus is particularly praised for releasing its first three studio albums – “Bonded by Blood”, “Pleasures of the Flesh”, and “Fabulous Disaster”.
Formation and beginnings (1980-1983)
In 1980, guitarists Kirk Hammett and Tim Agnello, Tom Hunting and bassist Carlton Melson formed the initial line-up of Exodus.
Hammett named the band after Leon Uris’ book of the same name. Geoff Andrews and singer Keith Stewart later replaced Melson. Before that, Agnello left his musical career and was replaced by Hammett’s guitar technician, Gary Holt.
In 1983, Hammett left the band to join Metallica and was replaced by Rick Hunolt; Rob McKillop was recruited as bassist.
“Bonded By Blood” and “Popularization” (1984-1991)
The band released its first album, “Bonded by Blood”, in the summer of 1984. Sound engineering student Mark Whitaker is the producer. Photos from Exodus concerts at Aquatic Park’s Eastern Front Metal Festival (with Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies) and Ruthie’s Inn (with Megadeth and Slayer) are included on the album. Originally titled A Lesson in Violence, the album was released in April 1985.
Although “Bonded By Blood” is considered by fans to be a very influential album in the thrash metal scene, the trade press is adamant that it would have had more impact had it been released much earlier. Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic explains that “if it had been released immediately after its recording in 1984, “Bonded by Blood” would be considered today, in a similar way to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, as one of the albums unquestionably responsible for launching the Thrash metal wave. “Shortly before the promotional tour for “Bonded by Blood”, Paul Baloff was fired from the band and replaced by Steve “Zetro” Souza, former singer of the local band “Legacy”, later Testament. Baloff founded the band “Piranha”.
The Exodus line-up remained stable for recording their successive albums, and the underground success achieved with Bonded by Blood led to the band’s signing with Sony/Combat Records, which distributed their second album, “Pleasures of the Flesh,” in 1987. Fabulous Disaster, the band’s third album, was released in 1989. A video clip titled The Toxic Waltz was regularly aired at the Headbangers Ball on MTV in 19899. In promoting Fabulous Disaster, Exodus participated in the Headbangers Ball Tour alongside Anthrax and Halloween, allowing the band to expand its audience. After the success of Fabulous Disaster, Exodus signed with Capitol Records in early 1990, who would distribute their fourth album, Impact is Imminent, later that year. Before the album’s recording, John Tempesta replaced Tom Hunting on drums. In 1991, the band released their first live album, Good Friendly Violent Fun, recorded on their 1989 tour.
From “Force of Habit” to “Tempo of the Damned” (1991-2004)
Bassist Jack Gibson joined Exodus in 1997.
After the release of “Good Friendly Violent Fun”, the band sporadically participated in tours. Michael Butler replaced bassist McKillop before recording “Force of Habit” in 1992. The album marks a certain change in the band’s musical direction. During the tour, the band will call upon Chris Kontos on drums for two concerts in Argentina in April 1993 and Gannon Hall in May in Japan.
After the promotional tour of “Force of Habit”, differences of opinion led to the group’s dissolution. However, just after a year of inactivity, Holt and Hunolt reunited with singer Paul Baloff, drummer Tom Hunting, and the band’s new bass player Jack Gibson. They released the live album “Another Lesson in Violence” in 1997. However, the band broke up again the following year, partly due to Century Media’s promotional rejection.
In 2001, Exodus reformed again to play the “Thrash of the Titans” concert. Discussions were underway for a new album, and the band continued to play in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. However, in February 2002, Paul Baloff died of a stroke. Former singer Steve Souza returned to finish the rest of their tour. After Baloff’s death, guitarist Gary Holt seemed determined to record a new album. Subsequently, “Tempo of the Damned” was released in 2004 and distributed by Nuclear Blast Records.
Changes and new albums (2005-2010)
Singer Rob Dukes is one of the three new members to join Exodus in 2005. He remained in the band until 2014.
Steve Souza left the band due to personal differences in 200411. Gary Holt issued a statement violently criticizing Souza, explaining his departure a day before their tour in Mexico. He was initially replaced by Steev Esquivel (former member of Defiance and Skinlab). The band finally found a permanent replacement, Rob Dukes.
In 2005, Rick Hunolt was fired for drug addiction. The guitarist Lee Altus replaces him. Tom Hunting also left the band due to nervous problems, leading to his temporary departure in 1989. Paul Bostaph, a former member of Slayer and Testament, replaces hunting. This line-up released the album Shovel Headed Kill Machine in 2005. The tour of the album led to a long tour in America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. Tom Hunting returned to the band in March 2007 to release their eighth album, The Atrocity Exhibition… Exhibit A. They play at the Wacken Open Air Festival in the summer of 2008. In April 2009, Exodus participated in an American tour with Kreator, Belphegor, Warbringer, and Epicurean. Exodus participated in another tour with Arch Enemy, Arsis, and Mutiny Within.
Exodus releases a reissue of their debut album “Bonded by Blood”, entitled “Let There Be Blood”. Gary Holt explains the band’s decision regarding the reissue of their debut album, “After a few years of discussions, we finally completed the “Bonded By Blood” reissue. “
The album Exhibit B: “The Human Condition” was recorded in Northern California alongside British producer Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Arch Enemy, Kreator) and was released on Nuclear Blast Records in May 2010.14 In January 2010, Exodus took part in the tour for the 20th anniversary of Megadeth’s album Rust in Peace, with Testament. Exodus toured with Kreator, Suicidal Angels and Death Angel at Thrashfest in late 2010.
“Blood In, Blood Out” (since 2011)
Exodus leaves with Rob Zombie and Slayer in 2011 for their Hell on Earth tour. Slayer recruits Gary Holt during their tour while Hanneman tries to recover from necrotizing fasciitis caused by a spider bite. Holt once again replaced Hanneman on their next tour in 2012. On Exodus’ summer 2012 tour, guitarist Rick Hunolt (who left the band in 2005) replaced Holt.
In the summer of 2012, Exodus began recording their tenth album.
On June 8, 2014, Exodus announced the return of its former vocalist, Steve “Zetro” Souza. “Blood In, Blood Out” was positively received by the trade press, reaching number 38 on the Billboard 20022.
985 Bonded by Blood
Released: April 25, 1985
1987 Pleasures of the Flesh
Released: October 7, 1987
1989 Fabulous Disaster
Released: January 30, 1989
1990 Impact Is Imminent
Released: June 21, 1990
1992 Force of Habit
Released: August 17, 1992
2004 Tempo of the Damned
Released: February 2, 2004
2005 Shovel Headed Kill Machine
Released: October 4, 200
2007 The Atrocity Exhibition… Exhibit A
Released: October 23, 2007
2008 Let There Be Blood
Released: October 28, 2008
2014 Blood In, Blood Out
Released: October 14, 2014
2021 Persona Non Grata
Released: November 19, 2021