Pioneering East Bay thrash-metal outfit Exodus could have imploded when Metallica nicked founding guitarist Kirk Hammett to replace drunken troublemaker Dave Mustaine in 1983. Instead, the quintet, led by principal songwriter and guitarist Gary Holt, has spent the better part of three decades cementing a deserved place in metal history with its neck-snapping lessons of violence.
From the mosh-pit anthems “And Then There Were None” and “Strike of the Beast” on the band's classic 1985 debut Bonded By Blood with original vocalist Paul Baloff through the commercial peak of Fabulous Disaster in 1989 with Baloff's replacement Steve “Zetro” Souza, Exodus always set the bar for sonic brutality high. That has been maintained in the more intricate thrash epics produced by the current lineup, which features singer Rob Dukes and former Heathen guitarist Lee Altus. While the busy Holt has split his time since early 2011 filling in onstage for ailing Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman (who sadly passed away in early May), Exodus remains his main passion.
All Shook Down recently spoke with Holt about his jam-packed calendar and plans to record a new Exodus album in February. Exodus plays a rare local headlining show at Slim's this Friday, Dec. 20, with SoCal punk-metal extremists Nails and SF thrash acolytes Hellfire.