Best Exodus Albums

The Bay Area thrash metal movement of the early 1980s still stands as one of the most creative and innovative eras in all of metal. Besides launching the juggernaut that is Metallica it also gave birth to Testament, Death Angel and the influential Exodus. Earliest incarnations of Exodus date back to 1980 and are the initial beginnings of thrash metal.

Their debut Bonded By Blood is among the most influential metal records ever released and the band also featured future Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett as an original member. Exodus could hold the distinction of having released the best thrash albums in two different centuries.

Original vocalist Paul Baloff and replacement Steve (Zetro) Souza have become iconic singers in the genre as their style is distinct and the perfect amalgam of melody and aggression. The band is driven by guitarist Gary Holt and the genius riffs and solos he has been writing since their debut. With an incredible catalog they have developed over the years, we present the best albums by Exodus.

01
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Bonded By Blood (1985)

Exodus - Bonded By Blood
Exodus - Bonded By Blood.

Very few albums are as influential as Exodus’ debut, Bonded By Blood. Along with Show No Mercy and Kill ‘Em All, they all created a revolution in the underground. In addition to Metallica’s debut, Exodus could very well have written the best debut thrash metal has ever seen. Front to back it unleashes a hellish fury with its reverb-drenched vocals, ripping riffs and high-octane tempos it took the metal world in a grip and refused to let go.

The track listing reads as a best of and if you attend an Exodus show from any era the majority of the setlist is made up from their debut. Tracks like “Exodus,” “And Then There Were None,” the title track and the remarkable “A Lesson In Violence” are some of the best songs the genre has seen. Bonded By Blood had such an impact that if Exodus never released another record the world would still be talking about its genre defining brilliance. Clearly it is one of the most important metal records to ever be released.

Recommended Track: "Bonded By Blood"

02
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Pleasures of the Flesh (1987)

Exodus - Pleasures of the Flesh
Exodus - Pleasures of the Flesh.

Despite the influence Bonded By Blood immediately had, Exodus parted ways with vocalist Paul Baloff right after the tour was completed. Replaced by former Legacy (Testament) front man Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza for their sophomore release Pleasures of the Flesh, he was equally as unique as his predecessor, but has a wider vocal range. The album took two years to write and record, but was well worth the wait. Almost on par with their previous release, Gary Holt puts on a clinic with his larger than life riffs.

Souza makes his presence felt immediately as “Deranged” opens the record with intensity and a burst of speed that his quick paced vocal delivery rivals a prime Tom Araya from Slayer. The band pushes their melodic sensibilities with the crushing “’till Death Do Us Part” as it features one of Holt’s hookiest riffs and a melodic vocal line that Exodus was unable to travel with Baloff. “Choose Your Weapon” closes the record and is a thrash metal classic that is on par with any of the ones the Big 4 recorded. Pleasures of the Flesh is one of the most underrated thrash records the genre has ever seen.

Recommended Track: "Choose Your Weapon"

03
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Tempo of the Damned (2004)

Exodus - Tempo of the Damned
Exodus - Tempo of the Damned.

After a long hiatus following the release of the uninspired Force of Habit, Exodus resurfaced twelve years later with the massive Tempo of the Damned, a scorching affair that was so intense it was equivalent to being shell shocked. Tom Hunting finds himself back behind the drum kit after leaving in 1990 and his performance is jaw dropping and simply the best of his career. The spirit of thrash is captured in every track, as Souza has never sounded so angry and possessed.

The first three tracks are hard hitting thrash classics that firmly establish that Exodus have returned. Alongside Testament, Exodus are the only other group from the initial thrash movement that were creating material as strong as their early stuff. Holt is on fire and the riffs in “Scar Spangled Banner” and “War is my Shepherd” are the best of his career, the pull offs blended with the resilient chugging is how thrash is meant to be played. Tempo of the Damned finds the band firing on all cylinders and is the best thrash release of the new millennium.

Recommended Track: "Scar Spangled Banner"

04
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Fabulous Disaster (1989)

Exodus - Fabulous Disaster
Exodus - Fabulous Disaster.

Building on the success of their first two releases, Exodus quickly followed up with 1989's Fabulous Disaster. Similar in style to their previous offering, the songs are driven by Holt’s larger than life riffs. The lead guitar playing of Holt and Rick Hunolt is astounding with its frantic precision and technicality. Exodus expand their songwriting on their third opus by adding some heavier slower passages and incorporate additional melodic movements. They introduce covers for the first time with War’s “Low Rider” and AC/DC’s “Overdose” and they too are a tremendous success.

Their biggest hit is included with the powerful downpicked “Toxic Waltz,” a whirlwind of destruction that climaxes with its anthemic chorus. The title track is addictive and possibly includes their best chorus. Souza’s infectious melody will be imprinted into your brain long after the song is over. An underrated classic is the epic “Like Father, Like Son” with its anvil heavy riffs and exceptional chorus that has Souza almost embodying Destruction’s Schmier. “Last Act of Defiance,” “Open Season” and “Verbal Razors” all move like a freight train and capture the true thrash spirit of Exodus.

Recommended Track: "Fabulous Disaster"

Returning to the band for the third time, Souza was back behind the microphone on Exodus’ 2014 opus . After the untimely death of Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman, Holt has been splitting his time between Slayer and Exodus and the dual role clearly influenced his songwriting. It would have been the perfect follow up to 2004s Tempo of the Damned if Souza had stayed, it is the perfect amalgam of their past blended with modern tendencies. The production by Andy Sneap is crisp, sharp and has the band sounding larger than life.

Opening with the relentless “Black 13,” they quickly move through neck breaking anthems as the title track and “Collateral Damage” are all first rate Exodus classics. Kirk Hammett revisits his time in Exodus as he shreds on the killer “Salt the Wound” which features an unrelenting Souza destroying the mic. Souza fronting Exodus just feels right. His vocals blend perfectly with Holt’s brilliant riffs, as the songwriting is a clear return to form.

Recommended Track: "Salt the Wound"

06
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Exhibit B: The Human Condition (2010)

Exodus - Exhibit B: The Human Condition
Exodus - Exhibit B: The Human Condition. Nuclear Blast Records

Once again Exodus and Steve Souza had a falling out that led to his ousting from the band. Exodus brought in vocalist Rob Dukes in 2005, whot recorded three solid albums and peaked on his last release, Exhibit B: The Human Condition. Dukes brings a more aggressive technique to his vocals as he can scream with the best of them. On his prior releases his melodic approach wasn’t as developed but on Exhibit B he is downright monstrous and does an admirable job varying up his delivery.

Guitar Player Lee Altus joined in 2005 to replace Hunolt and his presence is felt all over the album. The riffs and intensity are vicious as closer “Good Riddance” is as brutal as anything in their catalog. “Downfall” is the best song from the Dukes era with memorable melody lines and incessant riffs. At almost 75 minutes and twelve tracks, this is Exodus’ most in depth and ambitious effort as eight of the songs clock in over six minutes.

Recommended Track: "Downfall"