Exodus is an influential American thrash metal band that came up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 80s. Moreover, Exodus is considered by many thrash fans as the first true thrash band, as they were formed a year before their fellow Bay Area thrash pioneers. Exodus defined the Bay Area thrash movement along with bands like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Death Angel and Testament (originally Legacy). The Bay Area movement not only defined the thrash genre during this time, but also helped it reach a far greater audience. Exodus was an integral part of the movement, and their debut album Bonded by Blood is considered among the elite thrash albums ever released. In the 34 years since it formed, Exodus has seen numerous lineup changes, with guitarist Gary Holt the only one to perform on every release. The band's influence on thrash is undeniable, as nearly every musician to come along and embrace the genre has cited Exodus as a revered source of inspiration. In addition, Exodus is something of the Deep Purple of thrash, with Hammett going on to Metallica and both Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph spending time with Slayer. Exodus members have also played in Hirax, Heathen, Testament, Pirhana and countless other important Bay Area bands.
Exodus was formed in 1980 by drummer Tom Hunting, bassist Carlton Melson and guitarists Tim Agnello and Kirk Hammett, of eventual Metallica fame. Hammett is credited for naming the band, after a 1958 novel written by Leon Uris. Initially, Melson handled vocal duties along with playing bass, but was soon replaced by singer Keith Stewart and bassist Geoff Andrews. Agnello left a short time later, to pursue a life in the ministry oddly enough, and was replaced with Gary Holt, who had been working with the band as Hammett's guitar tech. About a year after Exodus was formed, Hammett met vocalist Paul Baloff at a party in Berkeley, California. Baloff replaced Stewart, and Exodus recorded its first demo, a recording that would be Hammett's only recording with the band before he left to join Metallica.