The Bay Area Thrash Scene made a name for itself throughout the 1980’s, giving the metal world some of it’s most popular groups. Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” served not only as their debut, but as the debut for the thrash sub-genre. In 1986, Slayer created one of heavy metal’s most classic albums, “Reign in Blood”. Even Megadeth gave us a tornado of riffs with their 4th album “Rust in Piece”. Yet the scene wouldn’t have been complete without Exodus. Though not as commercially successful as their peers, Exodus bled true thrash from the very beginning and in many ways had superior qualities over the rest.
In 1985 Exodus released their debut, “Bonded By Blood”. A chaotic first effort that rivals “Kill ‘Em All” in terms of the purest form of thrash, “Bonded By Blood” made a significant impact on the scene. Tracks such as “Piranha” and “A Lesson in Violence” were made for the soul purpose of taking both music and moshing to the next level of extremity. The album never slows down for a minute, it’s great! And what’s better is that “Bonded By Blood” featured one of thrash metal’s most interesting vocalists, Paul Baloff. His vocals ranged from guttural lows to deafening screeches that put even the young Hetfield to shame. Though even more metal than his vocals were his antics during live performances. It’s amazing how many times he vocally expressed his desire to kill posers.
“Pleasures of the Flesh” and “Fabulous Disaster” further show cased the talent of this California 5-piece. Worthy of note is the guitar work of Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt. These two shared the roles of rhythm and lead guitars equally, and as they were both technically skilled axe men, they could trade off solos with ease. Some of the tightest solos of the genre came from the unique chemistry between these two. The lightening speed solos and riffs along with rhythm work and rapid pace of drummer Tom Hunting helped to create the aggressive undertone unique to Exodus. After the strange “Force of Habit” (1992) and hiatus, Exodus returned to form in the late 1990’s and began to really thrash again. To this day, they’re doing it much better than most of their peers and have proved to be a true success story in helping to keep thrash metal alive.