Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1980 in Richmond, California. Spanning a career of over 30 years, Exodus has gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members. Guitarist Gary Holt remains the only constant member of the band, appearing on all their releases. Drummer Tom Hunting is one of the founding members, and departed from the band twice but has since returned to the lineup.
With nine studio albums, two live albums and two compilations, Exodus has released a total of thirteen albums since their debut album Bonded by Blood in 1985. The band had particular success in the late 1980s. Their first three albums Bonded by Blood, Pleasures of the Flesh and Fabulous Disaster, cemented Exodus' reputation as one of the most successful thrash metal bands. The critical praise given to Fabulous Disaster garnered attention from major labels, including Capitol Records, with whom Exodus would eventually sign in 1990. Exodus released two more albums, Impact Is Imminent and Force of Habit, before disbanding in 1993. After a temporary return in 1997-1998, Exodus reformed for a second time in 2001, and since then they have released five more albums, the most recent being 2010's Exhibit B: The Human Condition.
Formation and early years (1980-1983):
In 1980, guitarists Kirk Hammett and Tim Agnello, drummer Tom Hunting, bassist Carlton Melson, and vocalist Keith Stewart formed the initial lineup of Exodus. Hammett had named the band after Leon Uris' 1958 novel of the same title. Bassist Melson would soon be replaced by Jeff Andrews. Before long, Agnello would also leave the group (and music) to pursue a life of ministry in Stockton, California and would be replaced by Hammett's guitar technician Gary Holt.
In 1981, Kirk Hammett met El Cerrito resident Paul Baloff at a North Berkeley house party, a friendship that was started - according to aspiring guitarist Hammett - by both's admiration for punk rock and 1970s heavy metal music; Baloff would then take Stewart's place as vocalist. The quintet would record a demo tape the same year, a release which would be Hammett's only recording with the band. Jeff Andrews would leave immediately after the tape to start an early incarnation of pioneering death metal band, Possessed. In early 1983, Hammett left Exodus to join Metallica and was eventually replaced long term by guitarist Rick Hunolt.
Bonded By Blood and rise in popularity (1984-1991):
The band recorded their first album Bonded by Blood in the summer of 1984. Audio engineering college student Mark Whitaker, who had attended high school with Paul Baloff, oversaw management and record production for the band at the time. 1984 concert photos from Exodus shows at Aquatic Park's Eastern Front Metal Festival (with Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies) and Ruthie's Inn (with Megadeth and Slayer) were included on the album sleeve inserts. Originally titled "A Lesson In Violence", the album was not released until April 1985 amidst creative and business setbacks. Shortly after touring for Bonded by Blood, Paul Baloff was fired from the band and replaced by Steve "Zetro" Souza, who had previously been the lead vocalist for Legacy, an early incarnation of Testament. Baloff went on to form the band Piranha.
Exodus' line-up remained fairly stable for the next few albums, and the underground success attained with Bonded by Blood would lead to the group's signing to Sony/Combat Records, who distributed the band's second effort Pleasures of the Flesh in 1987. Fabulous Disaster, the group's third full length album, was released in Europe in 1988 and in the US in 1989. A music video for the song "The Toxic Waltz" would receive consistent rotation on MTV's Headbangers Ball in 1989.
After the success of Fabulous Disaster, Exodus was signed to Capitol Records in early 1990, who released the band's fourth album Impact is Imminent later that year. Prior to recording the album, Tom Hunting was replaced by John Tempesta on drums. In 1991, the band released their first live album, Good Friendly Violent Fun, which was recorded during their 1989 tour.
Force of Habit, hiatus, and temporary return (1991-2000):
After the release of Good Friendly Violent Fun, the band toured sporadically for a year. Bassist McKillop was replaced by Michael Butler before the group recorded and released their next studio album titled Force of Habit in 1992. This album was a bit of a departure for the band, containing several slower, "heavier" songs with less emphasis on the speed/thrash aspect of their older material. The 11-minute song "Architect of Pain" is a good example of the change of direction, being a much slower, grindier feel than the usual high speed thrash they were known for.
After touring for Force Of Habit was completed, behind the scenes issues as well as a changing musical environment prompted the band to go on indefinite hiatus.
After a few dormant years, Holt, Hunolt, and Hunting briefly reunited with singer Paul Baloff along with new bassist Jack Gibson. They released a live album in 1997 titled Another Lesson in Violence. The group disbanded again shortly after, in part due to a falling out with record label Century Media over the way the live album was promoted, and over an aborted attempt at a live concert video which was filmed but never released due to a financial dispute.
Second reformation (2001-2004):
In 2001, Exodus reformed once again, initially to play the Chuck Billy benefit Thrash of the Titans concert. There was talk of recording a new studio album and the band continued to play local gigs in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
However, in February 2002 Paul Baloff suffered a seizure/stroke and died. Former vocalist Steve Souza was recruited back into the band to finish the rest of their concert commitments. Although it appeared to outsiders that with Baloff's death Exodus would cease to exist, guitarist Gary Holt was determined to release a new studio record. The result was 2004's Tempo of the Damned released on Nuclear Blast Records. An oddity of the recording sessions was that one track, "Crime Of The Century", was dropped under mysterious circumstances. The song chronicled Exodus's time under Century Media (of which Nuclear Blast is a subsidiary). Although it was publicly denied, rumors swirled that Century Media forced the song off the record. "Crime" was replaced with "Impaler"; a song written back when Kirk Hammett was still in the band, and which was featured on the Another Lesson In Violence live record.
Rob Dukes era (2005-onward):
In 2005, Rick Hunolt decided to leave the band to concentrate on his family life. He was replaced by former Heathen guitarist Lee Altus.
Tom Hunting took leave of the band following a re-occurrence of the nervous problems that led to his temporary departure in 1989. Hunting was replaced with Paul Bostaph who had previously played with Slayer and Testament.
Steve Souza also left under disputed terms in 2005. He was replaced initially by Steev Esquivel (ex-Defiance and Skinlab). The band eventually found a more permanent replacement in Rob Dukes.
The revamped lineup released the album Shovel Headed Kill Machine in 2005. The tour for the album led to extensive travel of the US, Europe, and Japan, as well as their first-ever visit to Australia.
Tom Hunting returned to the band in March 2007 in time to record and release their 8th studio album The Atrocity Exhibition... Exhibit A. They performed at the Wacken Open Air Festival in the summer of 2008. In April 2009, Exodus embarked on a co-headlining North American tour with Kreator and also featuring Belphegor, Warbringer, and Epicurean. Exodus then went on tour supporting Arch Enemy along with Arsis and Mutiny Within.
Exodus released a re-recording of their 1985 debut album Bonded by Blood entitled Let There Be Blood. Gary Holt released the following statement about the band's decision to revisit their debut album: "After many years in the planning and discussion stage, we have finally completed the re-recording of 'Bonded By Blood'. We have decided to call it 'Let There Be Blood' and it is our way of paying homage to original, late singer Paul Baloff by showing how relevant these songs we had written together still are. We aren't trying to replace the original; that's impossible anyway. We are just giving these songs the benefit of modern production. It's something we talked about before Paul's death and it's always been important to us to do. We were super excited about entering the studio once again to record these classics, and now it's back to writing the next studio record!"
The album Exhibit B: The Human Condition was recorded in northern California with British producer Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Arch Enemy, Kreator) and released on Nuclear Blast Records in May 2010. It was announced in January 2010 that Exodus was to be on Megadeth's Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary tour along with Testament. Exodus was featured on the cover of Decibel magazine's June 2010 issue, with a feature article on them.
Exodus co-headlined with Kreator, Suicidal Angels and Death Angel on the Thrashfest 2010 tour in late 2010 and will be one of the headlining bands on the bill for Wacken Open Air 2011 (Announced 23 December 2010).
Exodus toured with Rob Zombie and Slayer in 2011 on their Hell on Earth tour as the opening act. Gary Holt filled in for Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman during the tour after Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis caused by a spider bite.
On February 4, 2012 a Paul Baloff Memorial Reunion Concert was held at the Oakland Metro Opera House. Former and current members included Kirk Hammett, Rick Hunolt, Gary Holt, Jeff Andrews, Lee Altus, Rob Dukes, Tom Hunting and Jack Gibson. It was the first they have all played together since 1983.
Gary Holt - guitars (1980-1993, 1997-1998, 2001-present),
Rob Dukes - vocals (2005-present),
Lee Altus - guitars (2005-present),
Jack Gibson - bass (1997-1998, 2001-present),
Tom Hunting - drums (1980-1989, 1997-1998, 2001-2004, 2007-present),
Keith Stewart (1980) (rehearsals),
Paul Baloff (1982-1986, 1997-1998, 2001-2002),
Steve Souza (1986-1993, 2002-2004),
Matt Harvey (2004) (one Mexico show),
Steev Esquivel (2004),
Kirk Hammett (1980-1983),
Tim Agnello (1980),
Evan McCaskey (1983) (one show),
Mike Maung (1983),
Rick Hunolt (1983-1993, 1997-1998, 2001-2005),
Carlton Melson (1980),
Jeff Andrews (1980-1983),
Doug Williams; (1985-1986),
Rob McKillop (1983-1991),
Michael Butler (1992-1993),
Perry Strickland (1989) (one US tour),
John Tempesta (1989-1993),
Gannon Hall (1993) (one US show, one Japanese tour),
Chris Kontos (1993) (one US show, two Argentina shows),
Paul Bostaph (2005-2007),