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San Franciscan Speed metallers created in early 1980, EXODUS featured METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett in the original line-up. The original EXODUS incarnation saw Hammett joined by second guitarist Tim Magnello, bassist Carlton Nelson and drummer Tom Hunting, the latter also handling lead vocals. Initially the band operated in NWoBHM territory, performing covers by the likes of DEF LEPPARD and UFO, prior to adopting their more familiar Thrash stance. Nelson went on to join BLIZZARD, OUTRAGE and FUHRER. Jeff Andrews, fleetingly a member of POSSESSED, took the bass position but further changes saw Tim Magnello opting out, being substituted by Gary Holt, a former guitar tech of Hammett's. EXODUS evolved further when Paul Baloff assumed the role of frontman for a 1982 demo comprising the tracks 'Whipping Queen', 'Death And Domination' and 'Warlords'. The band made its presence felt on the live scene with supports to the likes of ANVIL CHORUS, LÄÄZ ROCKIT, VICIOUS RUMORS and METALLICA.

Fate dealt the band a heavy blow in early 1983 when Hammett's services were requested urgently by METALLICA upon recommendation of Mark Whitaker, then not only manager of EXODUS but also acting as METALLICA's sound engineer. On their debut tour of the East Coast, METALLICA had decided to ditch then guitarist Dave Mustaine and pulled in Hammett to complete the tour. The EXODUS man flew out to New York to join up with METALLICA on 11th April and put in his inaugural gig with his new act on the 16th at the Showplace in Dover, New Jersey. At this same juncture EXODUS discarded Andrews and recruited Rob McKillop.

The group briefly employed the services of Mike Maung on guitar before he, joining Disco band FREAKY EXECUTIVE, was superseded by Evan McCasky. This latest candidate lasted just one gig before the band severed ties. Potential guitarists would be Jon Torres of THUNDERHEAD, IRON ASSAULT and WARNING along with Rick Hunolt, the latter securing the position. A second demo session, the two track 'Die By His Hand' emerged in 1983 as did a rehearsal recording in July. By now, the EXODUS name was revered amongst the burgeoning Thrash scene in California. The group fostered a growing legion of die hard fans opening for METALLICA, RAVEN, METAL CHURCH, MOTÖRHEAD, HEAVEN, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and LOUDNESS whilst putting in a profusion of headliners.

EXODUS continued demoing into 1984 with the 'A Lesson In Violence' set and tracks recorded at Turk Street studios by ANVIL CHORUS and CONTROL's Doug Piercy, famously cut minus many of the vocal tracks due to the band running out of funds. Back on the club scene EXODUS allied with DEATH ANGEL, VERMIN, ANTHRAX, SLAYER and POSSESSED.

EXODUS debuted officially in 1985 with the 'Bonded By Blood' album, recorded for the New York based Torrid label and crafted during July of 1984 at Prairie Sun studios with Mark Whitaker acting as producer. Initial promotional copies supplied to journalists would bear the originally planned title of 'A Lesson In Violence'. Sporting controversial artwork, depicting demonic Siamese twins, many countries chose to change the sleeve art to a simple band logo. The debut EXODUS effort, licensed to Music For Nations for the UK, saw a line-up of vocalist Paul Baloff, guitarists Rick Hunholt and Gary Holt, bassist Rob McKillop and drummer Tom Hunting.

Gigs in 1984 had the band sharing stages with HIRAX, DEATH ANGEL, MERCYFUL FATE and MEGADETH. The subsequent CD version of 'Bonded By Blood', issued by Century Media in 1999, came with the bonus live tracks 'And Then There Were None' and 'A Lesson In Violence'. With this debut EXODUS were to catapult themselves into the Thrash major league, although a minor spat developed when it was learned that lyrics from the EXODUS track 'Hell's Breath' had re-emerged in METALLICA's 'Creeping Death'. Unfortunately this promising start could not be capitalised on and EXODUS steadily lost ground with each successive release despite no let up in quality.

EXODUS partnered with VENOM and SLAYER for national tour work in April, tracks from a show at the notorious Studio 54 in New York City being included on the VHS Video 'The Ultimate Revenge' in April 1985 through Combat Records. In August the group scheduled US and Canadian dates in union with EXCITER but the Canadian act dropped off the tour following just three gigs, leaving EXODUS to persevere onward themselves, culminating in Montreal on 17th August at the 'Banzai' festival alongside SLAYER, METAL CHURCH, HALLOW'S EVE and AGENT STEEL. The following month witnessed the first EXODUS showing on European soil, guesting for VENOM tour dates across the UK, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Italy, Holland and Germany. Fervour surrounding the group resulted in the Eindhoven gig being bootlegged as the albums 'Strike Of The Beast' and 'And Then There Were... 300'.

Returning to the USA, Baloff and Holt forged the ad hoc side project band SPASTIK CHILDREN in alliance with HEATHEN's Doug Piercy on bass and Fred 'Rotten' Cotton on drums. This notorious and nebulous band unit would famously evolve to incorporate such figures as James McDaniels, PIRANHA's Al Voltage, the METALLICA pairing of James Hetfield and Cliff Burton plus FAITH NO MORE's Jim Martin. The year closed out for EXODUS in in late December 1985 the band journeyed to Brooklyn, New York to perform a one off date at the L'Amour club supported by AGNOSTIC FRONT and LETHAL AGRESSION then returned to the West Coast for a New Years Eve gig ranked alongside METALLICA, METAL CHURCH and ANTHRAX.

Following pre-production demos for a second album and a 14th June 1986 gig with ANTHRAX at the New York Ritz, Paul Baloff left, initially to team up with HIRAX for a brief liaison and turning down an offer from German thrashers DESTRUCTION, as EXODUS struggled to wriggle free from their American deal with Torrid Records. During the lull Holt busied himself producing a demo for erstwhile EXODUS bassist Carlton Nelson's FUHRER.

Meantime, EXODUS enlisted Steve "Zetro" Souza, the new singer's previous act LEGACY was later to evolve into TESTAMENT, debuting their new frontman at two gigs at The Farm In San Francisco on July 17th and 18th. For the latter concert Baloff would join Souza on stage during the encore to sing 'Bonded By Blood'. The group crafted the 'Pleasures Of The Flesh' record, released by Combat Records in 1987 before being swiftly re-released as the band scored a major deal with Capitol Records. Some versions of 'Pleasures Of The Flesh' included a cover version of AC/DC's 'Overdose'. November of that year found EXODUS traversing the West Coast and into Texas with co-headliners CELTIC FROST before hooking up with ANTHRAX in December.

As 1988 drew in, ex-singer Paul Baloff announced his new act PIRAHNA comprising of guitarists Ron Shipes and former EXECUTION man Chuck Sedlak, bassist Bob Eggleston and drummer Fred Cotton but later Baloff joined HEATHEN.

Whilst on tour with ANTHRAX and HELLOWEEN, drummer Tom Hunting was forced to leave the band due to a mysterious stomach virus (or so it was reported) and temporarily replaced by VIO-LENCE's Perry Strickland. The group wound up using ANTHRAX drum tech John Tempesta on a headlining American tour in 1989 and would take over full-time as Hunting opted out. Hunting was later to involve himself in IR8, a demo project put together by METALLICA's Jason Newsted. Former bassist Mike Butler re-emerged with the FLEXAPLEASERS and Punk Glam act AMERICAN HEARTBREAK. A notable EXODUS release in 1989 would be the EP 'Objection Overruled', a three track effort which included a rendition of TED NUGENT's 'Free For All'. Capitol Records issued the 'Impact Is Imminent' album in June 1990 but the group struggled to achieve the sales their label had anticipated. EXODUS shifted to Relativity Records to publish the 1991 live album 'Good Friendly Violent Fun', once again witnessing an AC/DC cover in 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap'.

The band adopted a new and direction in 1992 for the Chris Tsangarides produced 'Force Of Habit' album, released that August, as many longstanding fans failed to appreciate the shift away from pure Thrash. The adventurous set, despite supremely heavy epics such as 'Architect Of Pain', even included cover takes on ELVIS COSTELLO's 'Pump It Up' and the ROLLING STONES 'Bitch'. Japanese variants added two extra tracks in 'Crawl Before You Walk' and 'Telepathetic'. Faced with the onset of Grunge and post-Thrash apathy, EXODUS folded.

The group reformed for 1997's 'Another Lesson In Violence', a collection of live recordings of the band's 'classics' but also including the Kirk Hammet co-written 'Impaler', never previously available on record. The album was notably produced by ex-SABBAT guitarist Andy Sneap. The reformed EXODUS featured Baloff, Hunholt, Holt and Hunting along with new bassist Jack Gibson. Holt had been working with Jack Gibson and Tom Hunting in WARDANCE prior to being involved in the reunited EXODUS.

Souza was operating his act DOG FACE with ex-REXXEN and HEATHEN guitarist Ira Black, later of VICIOUS RUMOURS.

The band subsequently appeared at the Dynamo Festival in Holland in the early Summer of 1997 but would yet again break up shortly after. The band name would be kept in the public eye in 2000 as Death Metal band SIX FEET UNDER covered 'Piranha' on their 'Graveyard Classics' album.

EXODUS buried the hatchet in August 2001 re-uniting for a one off gig at the 'Thrash Of The Titans' festival in aid of TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy's cancer treatment fund.

Sadly Paul Baloff was to die after suffering a stroke in late January 2002 that left him comatose with irreparable brain damage. The singer was just 41. Despite this huge loss EXODUS persevered pulling in old colleague Steve 'Zetro' Souza in order to fulfill February engagements in Anaheim and an appearance at the Whittier 'Hellfest' in March. The band continued the momentum by stretching out dates into the summer including a showing at the 'Milwaukee Metalfest' in July and the German 'Wacken Open Air' event in early August. December dates had EXODUS performing in Greece with THE HAUNTED and TANKARD, the UK, Holland, France and Belgium. The group also united with SIX FEET UNDER, MARDUK, IMMOLATION and KATAKLYSM for the 'Xmas Festivals' shows for closing dates in Holland to close off the year.

EXODUS were projected to record a new studio album, once again using the services of Andy Sneap as producer, on a newly established label set up by EXODUS enthusiasts former manager Toni Isabella and erstwhile Capitol Records A&R executive Rachel Matthews, responsible for signing the band to the major label back in the 80s. EXODUS stirred controversy and generated some press when courier giants Federal Express objected to the band selling T-shirts at shows bearing the legend 'FedExodus - Total Destruction Guaranteed Overnight'!

EXODUS were to put in a one off show in Las Vegas opening for HALFORD and a short burst of December dates packaged along with TESTAMENT and VIO-LENCE but these gigs were cancelled due to visa problems with Rob Halford. EXODUS surprisingly parted ways with frontman Steve Souza in mid January. Their active search for a new singer ended within weeks though as Souza rejoined in February. Hunting announced extracurricular activity as forming up part of a new look ANGELWITCH. However, within weeks of this press release the drummer pulled out stating his EXODUS commitments took priority.

The band would sign their comeback album 'Tempo Of The Damned' to Nuclear Blast Records in August. UK and European dates projected into October, dubbed the 'Bonded By Metal' trek, found EXODUS topping a billing comprising NUCLEAR ASSAULT, AGENT STEEL, MORTICIAN, GOD DETHRONED , OCCULT and CALLENISH CIRCLE. A limited edition tour single, 'War Is My Sheppard', was made available at these shows. The band filmed video clips for 'War Is My Shepherd' and 'Throwing Down' in late November with director Maurice Swinkels. 'Tempo Of The Damned' would emerge in Europe on 2nd February 2, marking the two-year anniversary of late frontman Paul Baloff's passing. The EXODUS live schedule extended into 2004 with European dates, including an appearance at the Sölvesborg 'Sweden Rock' event, slated for the Summer. As an adjunct to EXODUS activities guitarist Gary Holt and band manager Steve Warner forged the DRUG PIG project, cutting tracks at Tsunami Studio in Northern California.

September witnessed Japanese shows, followed up by Central and South American gigs in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. However, EXODUS frontman Steve Souza was forced to sit out these date after falling ill during the group's Japanese trek. Filling in for Zetro would be EXHUMED frontman Matt Harvey. However, the position became clearer within hours of the first gig in Mexico when band manager Steven Warner told the Blabbermouth network that Souza was out by stating "He did not quit, he was fired!" The separation would prove far from amicable, Gary Holt labelling Souza a "fat motherfuckin' shit brick" on the band's official forums, and claiming the singer withdrew from the tour less than 24 hours before the first gig.

WARDANCE singer John Miller was set join EXODUS to complete the dates. However, in a bizarre turn of events Gary Holt then publicly slammed Miller claiming the singer was an "insane idiot and had one of his mental breakdowns the day before we were to leave". These gigs were then re-scheduled for October, seeing SKINLAB and RE:IGNITION singer Steev Esquivel as new frontman. Meantime, aggrieved Brazilian fans promptly convened the 'Fuck Off Zetro' festival in Belo Horizonte featuring DROWNED, ABSOLUTE DISGRACE, HELLTRUCKER, BETRAYER and PERPETUAL DUSK. The Esquivel fronted EXODUS would also tour the West Coast of America in October as support to MEGADETH.

Unfortunately the band's bad luck continued unabated, Esquivel's eyes being contaminated with "unknown chemicals" at the San Diego gig on 26th October. With the singer under medication, EXODUS drafted TESTAMENT's Chuck Billy as stand in for the following San Francisco Warfield gig. The band announced Rob Dukes, guitarist with East Coast outfit CHEATIN' SOCCER MOMS, as their new singer in January 2005. That same month bassist Jack Gibson, retaining his ties to EXODUS, joined VILE to record their album 'The New Age Of Chaos'.

The EXODUS line-up was re-vamped once more in May with Tom Hunting unfortunately being hospitalised due to illness. Stepping into the breach would be the SLAYER, TESTAMENT, SYSTEMATIC and FORBIDDEN credited Paul Bostaph. As the band set to work on a new album at Trident studios in Pacheco, California, reports emerged in June suggesting Rick Hunolt had departed. Conjecture soon placed HEATHEN's Lee Altus in the frame, this appointment being confirmed in late July. 'Shovel Headed Kill Machine', a grand return to form, emerged in October 2005.

November European headliners saw HYPOCRISY and KEEP OF KALESSIN as support. The band announced a touring partnership as part of the December 2005 'X-Mas' festivals in Europe ranked alongside recently resurrected UK Thrashers ONSLAUGHT, OCCULT, KATAKLYSM, UNLEASHED, BEHEMOTH, and PRIMORDIAL. That same month leading Spanish Death Metal band AVULSED covered 'Piranha' on their EP 'Reanimations'.

The group participated in the 'Extreme The Dojo Vol. 15' shows in Japan with THE HAUNTED and NILE in late February 2006. US touring resumed with CRYPTOPSY and IMMOLATION in April, following through with shows into May bolstered by THE CLASSIC STRUGGLE and FULL BLOWN CHAOS.

In mid 2006 the world of Thrash Metal received a pleasant surprise with the announcement of a new San Francisco based collective project billed DUBLIN DEATH PATROL. (Dublin is a San Francisco suburb). This unit was assembled by a seasoned cast of veterans headed up by erstwhile EXODUS singer Steve Souza and comprising TESTAMENT and RAMPAGE singer Chuck Billy, MACHINE HEAD, DEATH PENALTY, METAL WARRIOR and VIO-LENCE man Phil Demmel on guitar, bassist Willy Langenhuizen, of RAMPAGE and LÄÄZ ROCKIT repute, guitarist Andy Billy of SACRED DOG, RAMPAGE and GUILT, RAMPAGE guitarist Greg Bustamante, OUT OF CONTROL guitarist Steve Robello, bassist John Souza and drummer Danny Cunningham.

EXODUS hit the US touring circuit again in September forming up a strong billing alongside HATEBREED, NAPALM DEATH, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, DESPISED ICON and FIRST BLOOD. Another round of European dates throughout November and December was supported by British act BIOMECHANICAL.

Tom Hunting rejoined the fold in March 2007. In 2008 Gary Holt added guest guitar on German Thrash veterans DESTRUCTION's 'Urge (The Greed Of Gain)' featured on their album 'D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.'

EXODUS completely re-recorded their 1985 classic album 'Bonded By Blood' during mid 2008 under the new banner 'Let There Be Blood' as a tribute to late singer Paul Baloff. Produced by Gary Holt, 'Let There Be Blood' was recorded at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California and JKZ Production Studio in San Rafael, California with vocal tracks recorded at J. Rod Production Studios in New York. Andy Sneap mixed the album at Backstage studio in Derbyshire, England for an October 2008 release through Zaentz Records.

During September it was learned EXODUS frontman Rob Dukes has launched a brand new rock project dubbed DUKES with guitarist Jon Corsiari and drummer Jim Demaria.

EXODUS played their classic 1985 album, 'Bonded By Blood', in its entirety during the group's 12th November 2008 appearance at El Corazon in Seattle, Washington and 7th December show in Los Angeles, California. Gary Holt acted as producer for WARBRINGER's 2009 album 'Waking Into Nightmare'. The band hooked up with WARBRINGER, KREATOR, BELPHEGOR and EPICUREAN for a run of US dates.

EXODUS' three-disc DVD/CD set, entitled 'Assorted Atrocities', contained the band's July 2008 performance at Germany's 'Wacken Open Air' festival, plus a 105-minute documentary filmed on the previous five years of touring plus 45 minutes of bonus footage, with photo galleries and all of the group's promotional videos.

The group once again perform its debut album, 'Bonded By Blood, in its entirety each night of the band's 'Thrash Domination 2009' tour in Japan in September billed alongside KREATOR, TESTAMENT and HEATHEN. Upon completion of these shows EXODUS undertook gigs at The Wall Livehouse in Taipei City, Taiwan and the MAO Livehouse in Beijing, China.

In 2009 Rob Dukes launched the Crossover side project GENERATION KILL, a union with Rob Moschetti, ex-PRO-PAIN and M.O.D., on bass and Sam Inzerra, from MORTICIAN, on drums.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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