Spanning a career of almost 30 years, Exodus has gone through numerous line-up changes, two extended periods of inactivity and has seen the deaths of two former band members. With eight studio albums, two live albums and one compilation, Exodus has released a total of eleven albums since their debut in 1985 and remain one of the few early era thrash metal bands that are still active. Gary Holt remains the only steady member of the band, appearing on all their releases. Though drummer Tom Hunting is one of the founding band members, he has made numerous departures from Exodus but is currently the band's active drummer.
In 1983, founding member Kirk Hammett left Exodus to join Metallica and was replaced by guitarist Rick Hunolt and Rob McKillop replaced Andrews on bass. This line-up recorded and released their debut album, Bonded by Blood in 1985.
Shortly before the recording of Pleasures of the Flesh in 1987), Paul Baloff was replaced by Steve "Zetro" Souza, who had previously been the lead vocalist for the San Francisco band Legacy. Baloff later went on to form the band Piranah.
Exodus' line-up remained fairly stable for the next few albums but the band never garnered the success of their peers. After two studio releases (Fabulous Disaster and Impact is Imminent) the band released their first live effort, Good Friendly Violent Fun.
After the release of Good Friendly Violent Fun, the band toured sporadically for a year and released another studio album, Force of Habit. This album was a departure for the band, containing several slower, "heavier" songs with less emphasis on the speed/thrash basis of their older material. The 11 minute song "Architect of Pain", is probably the slowest song Exodus ever recorded.
After a few dormant years, Exodus released only another live album in 1997 titled Another Lesson in Violence and featuring the return of vocalist Paul Baloff. Exodus disintegrated again, partly due to a falling out with record label Century Media over the way the live album was promoted, and over an aborted attempt at a live concert video which was filmed but never released due to a financial dispute.
In 2001, Exodus reformed again, initially to play the Chuck Billy benefit, the Thrash of the Titans mega concert. There was talk of recording a new studio album and the band continued to play local gigs in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. In February 2002, Paul Baloff suffered a seizure/stroke and died. Former vocalist Steve Souza was recruited back into the band to finish the rest of their concert commitments.
Although it appeared to outsiders that with Baloff's death Exodus would cease to exist, guitarist Gary Holt was determined to release a new studio record. The result was 2004's Tempo of the Damned released on Nuclear Blast Records. An oddity of the recording sessions was that one track, "Crime Of The Century", was dropped under mysterious circumstances. The song chronicled Exodus' time under Century Media (of which Nuclear Blast is a subsidiary). Although it was publicly denied, rumors swirled that Century Media forced the song off the record. "Crime" was replaced with "Impaler"; a song written back when Kirk Hammett was still in the band, and which was featured on the Another Lesson In Violence live record.
In 2005, Hunolt decided to leave the band to concentrate on his family life. He was replaced by ex-Heathen guitarist Lee Altus. Tom Hunting also left, citing strong personal objections over some of Holt's anti-Christian lyrics. Hunting was replaced with Paul Bostaph who had previously played with Forbidden, Slayer and Testament. Souza also left under disputed terms in 2005. Rumors swirled that the reason for Steve Souza's departure was a dispute during a show in New Jersey. Sources say that three minors ran away from home to attend the show and the band was notified and was well aware of this before their set. Souza insisted that the police should be notified but the band let it slide and went on with the show; this apparently led to Souza's departure. He was replaced intitially by Steev Esquivel (ex-Defiance and Skinlab) and then later by Rob Dukes whose first recorded performance for the band is 2005's Shovel Headed Kill Machine The ensuing tour for the latest album has led to extensive touring of the US and Europe, as well as Japan, their first-ever visit to Australia and much more. Tom Hunting returned to the band in March 2007.
The band have completed work on a re-recording of their 1985 debut album, "Bonded by Blood". Gary Holt has released the following statement about the band's decision to revisit their debut album:
"After many years in the planning and discussion stage, we have finally completed the re-recording of 'Bonded by Blood'. We have decided to call it 'Let there be Blood' and it is our way of paying homage to [original, late singer] Paul Baloff by showing how relevant these songs we had written together still are. We aren't trying to replace the original; that's impossible anyway. We are just giving these songs the benefit of modern production. It's something we talked about before Paul's death and it's always been important to us to do. We were super excited about entering the studio once again to record these classics, and now it's back to writing the next studio record!"
Andy Sneap is currently mixing the CD at his Backstage studio in Derbyshire, England. An October 2008 release through Zaentz Records is expected, while "The Atrocity Exhibition... Exhibit B" has been pushed back, anticipating a summer 2009 release.