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Once the kings of the Bay Area metal scene -- one of the birthplaces of thrash -- Exodus were unceremoniously demoted from their postwith thearrival of Los Angeles' Metallica in 1982. And while they proceeded to eek out a hit-and-miss career of their own over thenext few decades,all the while influencing at least two separate generations of younger thrash bands, Exodus were ultimatelyfated to be the ultimate also-rans of the genre they helped spawn. Formed in 1981 by singer Paul Baloff, guitarists Gary Holt andKirk Hammett, bassist Geoff Andrews,and drummer Tom Hunting, Exodus were heavily inf ...read more
Once the kings of the Bay Area metal scene -- one of the birthplaces of thrash -- Exodus were unceremoniously demoted from their postwith thearrival of Los Angeles' Metallica in 1982. And while they proceeded to eek out a hit-and-miss career of their own over thenext few decades,all the while influencing at least two separate generations of younger thrash bands, Exodus were ultimatelyfated to be the ultimate also-rans of the genre they helped spawn. Formed in 1981 by singer Paul Baloff, guitarists Gary Holt andKirk Hammett, bassist Geoff Andrews,and drummer Tom Hunting, Exodus were heavily influenced by Motörhead and New Waveof British Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden andRaven, whose lessons they combined with the raw, D.I.Y. aesthetic of theprolific Bay Area punk scene to create thrash metal. Their handfulof demos recorded between 1982-1984 became wildly popularon the all-important underground tape-trading circuit of the time, andsolidified the band's standing as the Bay Area's first thrashchampions. But they would soon lose their numero uno standing as well as theirguitarist Hammett to the aforementionedMetallica, who then raced ahead of all competitors in their mission to bring thrash to the world.Wounded but undaunted, Exodusdrafted guitarist Rick Hunolt and replaced bassist Andrews with Rob McKillop before signing with TorridRecords, for whom theyrecorded their Bonded by Blood debut in 1984. But the album languished unreleased for over a year due to businessproblems,and by the time it was finally unveiled by Combat Records in 1985, the would-be genre benchmark already sounded dated anditsimpact was severely dulled by the quick evolution of their peers.
These hardships also led to the ousting of vocalist Baloff, whose carefree, larger-than-life attitude (and often drunken behavior)made him aneasy scapegoat for his more driven bandmates. His replacement was ex-Testament singer Steve "Zetro" Souza,who arrived in time for1987's disappointing Pleasures of the Flesh -- an inconsistent album which did nothing to advance Exodus'cause. Incessant touringserved to strengthen the band's new lineup, though, and 1989's meticulously conceived FabulousDisaster was a critical triumph, bringingthe group to their commercial peak. The successful world tour which followed broughtanother dramatic setback, however, when drummerHunting was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat which first sidelined, thenforced him to quit the band at tour's end. Still, Exodus was on aroll, and their momentum led to a new contract with CapitolRecords, which immediately rushed them back into the studio with formerAnthrax drum tech John Tempesta manning the skins,to lay down tracks for 1990's Impact Is Imminent. But the absence of a competentproducer and a carelessly assembledcollection of songs resulted in a dull, forgettable album that was doomed to commercial failure fromday one, squandering thegroup's recent accomplishments and pretty much closing their window to success. Longtime bassist McKillop leftsoon after(replaced by Mike Butler) and despite the renewed quality of 1992's Force of Habit (certainly their most diverse album ever),themembers of Exodus decided to go their separate ways when the grunge revolution sidelined heavy metal bands of most anystripe.
But then, ten years after his departure from the band, Paul Baloff rejoined most of the classic Bonded by Blood lineup for a seriesof gigs in1997. A live album entitled Another Lesson in Violence was issued by Century Media to memorialize their homecomingshow in SanFrancisco, and the band continued to perform sporadically over the next few years until tragedy struck: Baloffsuddenly passed away onFebruary 2, 2002 after suffering a massive stroke and slipping into a comma three days earlier.Guitarist Gary Holt -- long Exodus' de factoleader -- still wanted to carry on, however, so after reuniting most of the band's"semi-classic" Fabulous Disaster formation, also featuringHunolt, Hunting and Souza, plus bassist Jack Gibson, work began onthe band's sixth studio album, 2004's Nuclear Blast released thrash-fest, Tempo of the Damned. The record didn't bring Exodusfame and fortune, of course, but it did meet with widespread critical acclaimedand firmly reestablished the band's career with thehelp of their still peerlessly energetic live performances, now being witnessed worldwideby thousands of impressionable fans, tooyoung to have seen the original legends of thrash -- Exodus, Metallica, Slayer, etc. -- during theirglory years.
In fact, not even a final falling out with Souza and Hunolt could derail the Exodus juggernaut now, as they moshed back into thestudio torecord 2005's Shovel Headed Kill Machine with vocalist Rob Dukes, guitarist Lee Altus (once of competing Bay Areathrashers Heathen),and drummer Paul Bostaph (ex-Forbidden, Slayer, Testament, etc.). Two years later, they were back at itagain, with a returning TomHunting behind the drum kit for another new studio album named The Atrocity Exhibition...Exhibit A,as well as 2008's Let There Be Blood (awell-meaning but utterly unnecessary re-recording of 1985's seminal Bonded by Blooddebut), as well as 2010's Exhibit B: The HumanCondition. Be that as it may, Exodus continue in their quest to instruct newmillennium audiences with their one-of-a-kind "lesson inviolence"; simultaneously reaping the undying respect (if not monetaryreward) from the hundreds of purist young thrash bands, created intheir image, that sprung up worldwide towards the end of the'00s. « hide
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