Exodus is an American thrash metal band from the Bay Area, California. The band was formed in Richmond in 1981 and is signed to Nuclear Blast. The band’s discography includes ten studio albums. Unofficially, Exodus are considered to be the inventors of their style and inspired bands such as Death Angel, Testament and Vio-lence.

Exodus was founded in 1981 by drummer Tom Hunting and guitarist Kirk Hammett. The “head” of the band Gary Holt first worked as a roadie with Exodus and only later became the band’s guitarist. A short time later, singer Paul Baloff and bassist Jeff Andrews joined the band.

At first, the band played melodic hard rock. Since the band did not have a record deal, the further development of the band was delayed. Andrews left the band in late 1982. Hammett followed shortly afterwards and switched to Metallica. Both were replaced by Rob McKillop and Rick Hunolt respectively. Musically, Exodus worked on a new, more aggressive sound that was influenced by British bands such as Motörhead, Iron Maiden and Raven. At that time, Exodus was gaining a large fanatical fan base.

The first album was recorded at the beginning of 1984 and ready for publication. Nevertheless, the album was on hold for almost a year. In the spring of 1985, Bonded by Blood was finally released via Torrid Records and became a timeless classic of the genre. On the following tour with Slayer and Venom, Exodus earned the reputation of a great live band.

The band was not happy with the contract with Torrid and switched to Combat Records. A short time later, Baloff dropped out due to personal and musical differences. His enormous alcohol consumption did the rest. In September 1986 Exodus introduced Steve “Zetro” Souza, their new singer, who had previously sung in the band Legacy, which a short time later renamed itself to Testament. Souza was initially not accepted by many fans and was often pelted with beer bottles at concerts.

The recordings for the second album were delayed. The producer Mark Whitaker was fired and some songs had to be re-recorded. Pleasures of the Flesh was finally released at the end of 1987. In early 1988, Exodus toured with Anthrax and M.O.D. In April of the same year, the major label Capitol Records took over the contract. For legal reasons, the third studio album Fabulous Disaster from 1989 had to be released on Combat. The album contains one of the band’s most famous songs, including “The Toxic Waltz“.

In the same year ex-singer Paul Baloff founded the band Piranha (named after a song from the debut album Bonded by Blood). The demo was produced by Metallica singer James Hetfield. Hetfield also wanted to produce Piranha’s first album, which never happened due to the many line-up changes. Piranha eventually dissolved.

After the tour for the album Fabulous Disaster, the drummer Tom Hunting left the band because of a heart defect. He was succeeded by John Tempesta. Together the band recorded the fourth album Impact Is Imminent, which was released in early 1990. A year later McKillop left the band and was replaced by Mike Butler. In the same year, the best-of album A Lesson in Violence and the live album Good Friendly Violent Fun were released. A European tour planned for 1992 was canceled.

The fifth album Force of Habit was released in November 1992. Musically, the band took their foot off the gas pedal and focused more on groovy songs. A short time later, John Tempesta left to join to Testament but later ended up with White Zombie. Exodus then broke up. Holt founded the band Wardance together with Jack Gibson, Tom Hunting and the singer John Miller, which broke up after only one demo.

In 1996 there was a brief reunion with alto singer Paul Baloff. Except for bassist Jack Gibson, the band now consisted of the original line-up of the Bonded By Blood album. Exodus toured North America and Europe, including an appearance at Dynamo Open Air. The following year, Another Lesson in Violence, another live album was released via Century Media. Because the album was poorly advertised and a video-recorded concert was not released, the band ended their collaboration with Century Media. Since the band members were struggling with massive drug problems, the musicians decided to let the band rest.

Another hiatus followed until September 2001, when Exodus took part in the “Thrash of the Titans” benefit festival for the benefit of will singer Chuck Billy, who was suffering from cancer. After the festival, the band began to write new songs and played individual concerts in and around San Francisco.

Efforts were abruptly interrupted when Paul Baloff died of a stroke on February 2, 2002 in an Oakland hospital. His mother had succumbed to the same doom at the same age. Baloff was artificially kept alive for a while. Since Baloff had no relatives at the time, the band had to decide whether or not the life support machines should be turned off.

Instead of giving up, Exodus brought Souza back into the band and played “Tribute to Baloff” concerts and played at Wacken Open Air for the first time. Rumors about a new album quickly surfaced. Together with British producer Andy Sneap, Exodus recorded the comeback album Tempo of the Damned, which was released on February 2, 2004 on Nuclear Blast. The album on which a cover of the AC / DC classic “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” appeared hit like a bomb and catapulted the band back to the forefront of the thrash metal movement. Exodus headlined Europe while opening North America for a much younger bands like Sum 41.

In 2005 there was another upheaval. Shortly before leaving for concerts in Mexico, Souza abandoned his colleagues. At short notice, the Exhumed singer Matt Harvey jumped in for the remaining concerts, who had previously played with Hunting and Holt at Wardance. Tom Hunting left the band for health reasons, Rick Hunolt for family reasons and drug problems. Lee Altus (Heathen, ex-Die Krupps) and Paul Bostaph (formerly with Slayer, Testament and Forbidden) were signed as replacements. The new singer was the previously unknown Rob Dukes, who until then worked as a guitar technician for the band.

Together they recorded the album Shovel Headed Kill Machine, which was released in autumn 2005. In mid-2007 Hunting returned to the band. Paul Bostaph joined the band Testament. Many new songs were created during the studio time, so the band decided to release two new albums within a few months. The eighth album The Atrocity Exhibition – Exhibit A was released on October 26, 2007, but the second part, Exhibit B: The Human Condition, was not released until May 2010. In the summer of 2008, Exodus performed at the Summer Breeze in Dinkelsbühl.

In addition, a new recording of the debut album Bonded by Blood was released in October 2008 with Let There Be Blood. From February 2011 on, Gary Holt also helped out with the band Slayer after their guitarist Jeff Hanneman was unable to play guitar due to a spider bite. Rick Hunolt, who dropped out in 2005, helped out for the Exodus concerts in summer 2012.

In June 2014, the band announced the separation from singer Rob Dukes. Steve “Zetro” Souza returned to Exodus to replace him. Gary Holt justified the change of singer in an interview with differences of opinion about the sound of the tenth studio album Blood In, Blood Out, which was released in October 2014. Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett contributed a guitar solo to the song Salt the Wound.

I took pictures of Exodus on November 23, 2004 at Red’s in West Edmonton Mall where they opened for Megadeth:

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