35th Anniversary of Bonded by Blood - Tribute to Exodus
All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: July 19, 2020
Special thanks to Marco Barbieri of Salem Rose Music Management and Enzo Marangelli of Mirror Artist Management
Thanks to all musicians who contributed the Bonded by Blood's 35th anniversary tribute
What's the best thrash metal album of all time? I guess that's a question that's been argued forever. It could be Hell Awaits, Master of Puppets, Rust in Piece, Reign in Blood, The Legacy, Terrible Certainty, Eternal Nightmare, Forward to Termination, The Force, Agent Orange, The Ultra-Violence, None Shall Defy, Darkness Descends, Eternal Devastation, etc., etc.—all great thrash metal albums in their own right and the list surely goes on and on, depending on who you ask.
One of the most popular and highly praised thrash metal albums, released in 1985, is Exodus' legendary debut, Bonded by Blood, which is the only album featuring the band's original vocalist, Paul Baloff (R.I.P.) and his unique, easily recognizable punk-ish, shouting style. Bonded by Blood can be found on many top 5 thrash metal album lists and even more top 10 lists. Everyone who has heard the album knows exactly what makes Bonded... such a well-liked and highly appreciated record. It's even more amazing how well it has stood the test of time since it was released on April 25, 1985.
The album has had such a big impact on the evolution of thrash metal that we here at The Metal Crypt wanted to find out what this album has meant for musicians around the world when they first started putting their own bands together and making music. Read the following article to find out more and, of course, happy belated B-day to one of the finest and most revolutionary thrash metal albums recorded ever... BONDED BY BLOOD!!
When you heard Bonded by Blood for the first time, what were some of your initial reactions?
Tom Martin (LICH KING): I'm sorry to say this, I love Exodus, but I'm not a big fan of BBB. My initial thoughts are my thoughts still—the production's cruddy, the vocals are frequently off-time (sorry Paul) and the songwriting didn't feel like it was there just yet. I don't think Exodus found their footing until Pleasures. They needed to bake a while longer. I love many of BBB's songs but only later through the lens of Another Lesson in Violence, which is friggin' holy to me.
Reaper (LAID TO WASTE): I think it was maybe in 2011 when I first heard the album. I'm too young to remember the old days, so my first date with Bonded by Blood was after I discovered many thrash bands from the '80s. But...!!! This was completely different. The sound, with lots of delay, left deep scar and impression on me. The riffs and the vocals! Man...!!
Steve Gaines (ANGER AS ART): My initial reaction was, "Oh, so THAT is what Exodus sounds like!" It was really good and I loved the rhythm guitar tone immediately.
Col. Kmu (STRIKE MASTER): I was 14 years old maybe, and Exodus blasted the hell out of my speakers. In fact it was the very first album I heard from the band and I got to see them live the next year in Spain and got to have a few words with Rick Hunolt at the festival's metal market. Took a pic with him and drank a beer from what I remember...
Patrick Bauer (SKELETON PIT): I cannot remember my first listening to BbB, but I remember that I was quite impressed by the aggressive appearance of Exodus and especially this album. So pretty much immediately, Exodus was one of my favorite bands and they still are now.
Joe McGuigan (GAMA BOMB): We discovered this album when Century Media re-released all the old thrash albums at the end of the '90s. It was a record that we had heard a lot about, and we were very eager (in those pre-Internet days) to hear. The production and Baloff's vocals took a little while to get used to but the material was killer. Easily on a par with the other big debuts like Kill 'Em All.
James Benson (MASON): My reaction was probably much like everyone else in that it instantly became a cult classic. However, I am a fan of big production so when they re-recorded and made Let There Be Blood, I was blown away and found myself listening to that record over the original.
Clayton Cagle (HATCHET): My first exposure to BBB was around 2008/2009. I was a freshman in high school and in the infant stages of starting my first band (Apothesary). I had made my way through the Metallica catalog, but my thrash knowledge started and ended there. So Apothesary's original singer hands me like FIFTY CDs out of his collection one day, as an education ("A Lesson in Violence", if you will) into what we wanted our band to sound like. Out of those 50, he pointed to three as crucial listens; Testament's The New Order, Sepultura's Arise, and Taylor Swift's self-titled debut.
Alright... fine, it was Bonded by Blood (he was super into that TS record at the time, though).
From the SECOND the title track's intro hit, I was absolutely sold, man. I caught the bug. Traded in my Avenged Sevenfold hoodie and was beating posers with my denim vest by the end of the week. It was raw (thanks to the... unique... production), it was gnarly, and it was HEAVY. Paul Baloff single-handedly turned me into an elitist thrashole for the next year of my life! Haha!!
Spyros Lafias (CHRONOSPHERE): I remember I was 17 years old when a friend put Bonded by Blood on. It was an instant shock because I had never heard anything like this before. I was into Megadeth and Anthrax at the time, so Exodus was next for my search. I needed a little time though to get used to these vocals.
Abdulla Muijrers (MOTÖR MILITIA): I'm about as old as the album so never got to listen to it in its entirety until I got the CD as an 18th birthday gift from one of my best buds. I had heard the title track before on a crappy quality mp3 and heard many great things about it, but I had no idea how much of an impact this album would have on me.
Once I heard the album I was hooked! I needed more Exodus in my life!! Paul Baloff was larger-than-life and I could feel his energy listening to the album, which was just incredible! And I was in luck as they were just getting ready to release Tempo of the Damned! It was around that time that I found out about Paul's death as well. It was crushing! I was so excited to hear more of him, but it was the only studio album that he was featured on.
It wasn't easy getting my hands on Pleasures of the Flesh, Fabulous Disaster and Another Lesson in Violence (my absolute favorite live album ever!) living in Bahrain back then. It's easy nowadays and I've got all the albums that came after Tempo, Shovel Headed Kill Machine, Exhibit A and B, and, of course, Blood In Blood Out!
Matías Leonicio (NUCLEAR): I have to be totally honest; my very first approach to Exodus was in school, I was 13 or something and a classmate came to me with Fabulous Disaster, back in 1989. Months after, the same guy (you know, the thrasher guy of the class) comes back with Bonded by Blood. If Fabulous Disaster made a deep impact on me, Bonded by Blood blew my guts out. That was a real punch to my teenage face. It showcased a vicious, noisy, aggressive and raw way to play thrash metal. It was absolutely savage. At that time, I was into Testament, Metallica and Slayer, but Exodus sounded more brutal and, in some sense, more "from the streets." I still remember very well the first time I listened to "Metal Command," "Exodus Attack" or "Piranha" and those riffs and Baloff's voice gave us the feeling of being in front of something huge. And so it was... The album is a thrash masterpiece. End of discussion.
Maik Jegszenties (MESSERSCHMITT): At this point, I was not really in my thrash metal epoch. I was like 18 or 19 and had not heard it before, except maybe at a party or something. So, on my way to a gig my friend Kris played that album in his car and I was completely blown away! I remember that we listened to it over and over again. "Deliver Us to Evil" was my fav song!
Joe (EVIL INVADERS): I first got to know Exodus through their Tempo of the Damned album. As a young teenager, they instantly became one of my favorite bands. When I checked out their other records, Bonded was the next one I ran into. At first, I was intrigued by the rawness of the sound. As soon as Baloff opened his mouth, it was unlike anything I'd heard before in my life. This guy's voice just kept getting more and more insane towards the end of the record.
Alexandr Zhoglichev (FALLEN NATION): I still remember the first time I listened to it. No special stories about it. I was raised on classic rock and NWOBHM and back then I'd only just started to get into that thing called thrash metal. By that time, I had already listened to some works by Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer and Exodus was the next band I was introduced to. Of course, I was blown away right on the spot by that amazing source of evil energy! It was basically the only album I listened to during the next few weeks! In 2010 I finally got to see them live and they blew me away even more. It felt like they were still hungry to prove their superiority with their over-the-top performances rather than milking their reputation of having some classic tunes in their arsenal. It is still one of the best thrash metal shows I've ever seen and wow, what a shocking experience that was!
Tasos Tzimorotas (THE BLEEDING): I first heard the song "Piranha" on a compilation tape a friend of mine made to introduce me to some metal. I was quite new to it all, but that track off Bonded by Blood stood out from the rest of the songs. It took me a bit longer until I got to listen to the whole album, and I was really impressed when I did.
Andrew Hudson (HARLOTT): It's always stood out for me in its effortless simplicity and accessibility. Riff and structure-wise, the songs are just rock solid, faultless and fierce. It is easily one of the greatest debuts from any of the legendary thrash bands and it immediately hits you with its anger and power.
For a band's first release to be so cohesive shows the maturity and vision that they all obviously had when putting it together. The tone doesn't let up, falter or shift from start to finish. It's a real achievement.
Timo Ahlström (DEMONZTRATOR): I thought this album is quite rude and evil!
How much do you believe Bonded by Blood has been some sort of road sign for you when you started making music with your own band (or bands)? What makes it such a superior album, in your opinion?
Tom Martin (LICH KING): Not much and if anything. The aggression is unquestionable, even with that tinny tone.
Reaper (LAID TO WASTE): Well, it's the best album Exodus released. No doubt about that. I think it is so superior because they worked hard on the songwriting for many years before the release. They took their time. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to. As the vocalist of Laid to Waste, the biggest influence for me is Paul's singing. So maniacal! It had a huge impact on me in the beginning of Laid to Waste.
Steve Gaines (ANGER AS ART): For me, not really a road sign. It was released on the same day as Abattoir's Vicious Attack album. Of course, I heard it long before the release date, but it affirmed that what we were doing in Abattoir was a road also shared by others all around the world. I thought it was interesting that we were all "on the same page" before meeting each other or playing together.
Col. Kmu (STRIKE MASTER): Bonded by Blood will always be one of the purest examples of an iconic era of metal. Nothing needs to be changed on it, it is just a masterpiece to be examined and studied across the decades. For me it was school in its strongest form, nothing could save me then from learning a lesson in violence.
Patrick Bauer (SKELETON PIT): When we started, I would say BbB was no road sign for us, as I (or we) were more into the Metallica kind of sound. I don't remember if I even knew about BbB when we started making music. BUT it definitely was a road sign along our development as a thrash metal band. Especially when you become a fan and start to develop your style, it really influences your songwriting. In my opinion, the aggressiveness and the raw power without the big production around it, is what it makes it so special.
Joe McGuigan (GAMA BOMB): The quality of the songwriting, simple as that. Excellent riffs and some of the best drumming ever committed to vinyl. Tom deserves huge respect. Our friends in the US named their band after this record so I would say it had a huge impact on young bands in the early 2000s.
James Benson (MASON): Exodus never really influenced anything I or the band did. But I think the album/band has a real exploding vibe to it that I can definitely relate to and draw from.
Clayton Cagle (HATCHET): Well, as I mentioned above, BbB was insanely important to the formation of my first band. Apothesary's first EP (which were the first songs I ever wrote!) was modeled after this record and Reign in Blood, if I had to pick two. My soloing style was just a mirror image of Holt/Hammett when I was learning how to play. I learned about song structure, and how to write and arrange music in general, by dissecting records like Bonded. I literally would not be where I am right now, answering these questions for you about this album, WITHOUT this album. That is a really strange full-circle to make, eh?
When Hatchet was writing for our latest record (2018's Dying to Exist), I actually went BACK to this record in particular, as well as a few other contemporaries, for inspiration. It's crazy to think that not only is this collection of music still relevant to me after 10 years of listening, but to the WORLD too, after 35 years! Talk about a freaking legacy.
Spyros Lafias (CHRONOSPHERE): What I admire the most in Exodus is their stunning performance. Playing some crazy riffs and headbanging/moshing on stage was something I wanted to imitate. Since then, I try to write music while playing and moving around my room. It's about getting the vibe. The pure aggression and pure riffing are what makes BbB a superior album!
Abdulla Muijrers (MOTÖR MILITIA): Less than a year after hearing Bonded by Blood in full, Motör Militia released our debut album. It was definitely one of the albums that lit a fire for us to push the boundaries live and in the studio. I still remember how everyone in the music scene thought we were arrogant writing and recording our own songs, claiming it wouldn't achieve anything. Fucking posers... haha!!
Bonded by Blood is a perfect album! The performances leave nothing to be desired, everyone is ON every second and the songs just keep landing blows one after the other. Great riffs, great hooks, incredible energy and just bad ass!
Francisco Haussmann (NUCLEAR): To be perfectly honest, Exodus wasn't one of the bands we used to listen to (a lot) when we first started making music. Sepultura, Kreator, Metallica and Slayer were more influential during our early days as a band. I believe it had to do with availability in our small hometown in the early '90s. Not many Exodus records were available in comparison to Metallica or Iron Maiden, for example. However, when we moved to the capital and started Nuclear, things were different, and Bonded by Blood was definitely a musical guide for us. That uncompromising brutality and raw sound fit perfectly in the Nuclear project. Mainly the guitar work I'd say. BbB is an endless source of riffs and solos for extreme music. Until this day when we lack ideas and need to go back to the roots, we just spin Bonded... and everything clears up. Bonded by Blood is a guide for thrash metal music.
Maik Jegszenties (MESSERSCHMITT): Of course, it gave me some inspiration but not as much as some may think. I loved the spirit and the rawness, that's what I tried to transfer to our music.
Joe (EVIL INVADERS): As a guitar player and singer, Bonded by Blood and Mercyful Fate's Melissa were my main influences when I started out with Evil Invaders. Paul Baloff's voice showed me that you don't need to have perfect control over your voice to deliver something that sounds convincing. We had been looking for a singer for years and this record triggered me to pick up the mic myself and just start screaming beyond my own physical limits. Of course, it didn't take long before I figured out that wasn't the right way to go but it definitely made me take the step to do vocals. Hehe!
Bonded by Blood is a masterpiece within its genre because of the raw energy, the endless hooks in the songs and those kick-ass guitar riffs. This record proves that aggressive music can be catchy as well.
Alexandr Zhoglichev (FALLEN NATION): It was a big road sign for us. I'll tell you a story—when our band started in 2011 and we were searching for a second guitar player, we had a few guitarists we wanted to try so we decided to do a sort of makeshift audition. When the first guitarist came out and flawlessly played "Strike of the Beast" and "Piranha" he was accepted instantly. His choice of the songs alone was a sign that he was on the same wavelength with us musically. (He is no longer playing with us, but we still are close friends). Nowadays, we're heading into a more proggy direction, but when we want to include more straightforward classic thrash riffs or sections in a song, we rely on our Exodus influences.
Next, to the second part of the question: Bonded by Blood has some of the greatest riffs and songwriting in the genre, but what makes it so special is the attitude. To me it's not just a good metal album, but a work of art and one of the best examples of human beings putting their primal energy and wrath onto a music record. When you listen to the album, you hear not just songs, but also you hear the anger, intensity and boundless love for music of five hyperactive teenagers who eagerly released their essence through metal. I think this album is timeless—it's not a product of its time, it's an outburst of feelings that people still find relatable 35 years after the release, and probably in 1000 years some of our descendants will still be able to relate to it. Even after countless times listening to Bonded by Blood I still feel that adrenaline rush when the first riff in the title track begins, I still feel suspense with "And Then There Were None", which sounds like a premonition of some catastrophe to come and I still feel that the world becomes darker each time "Deliver Us to Evil" kicks in. But, most importantly, each time Paul starts singing, it's like he gives me a command to stop compromising and pretending and become one with my true animal self. Over the years I've argued with some people who said that Paul could never really sing, that's he's an amateur singer, rather than a professional. Well, screw them! If we're talking about classic thrash metal, there is no other singer who carries so much personality and excitement in his voice. And to me it's the only thing that actually matters. R.I.P. Paul, always a hero of mine.
Tasos Tzimorotas (THE BLEEDING): I see Bonded by Blood almost like a Kill 'Em All part 2. It took the aggression of thrash to a new level of extremity. It was a huge loss for metal, in my opinion, that Exodus didn't follow up on the debut with another Baloff album. Zetro is brilliant but the band lost some of their edginess with the later releases. The Bleeding is certainly influenced by Bonded by Blood and there was a time when (original band member) Jeff and I were considering recording a cover of "And Then There Were None" but ended up doing Death's "Open Casket" instead with the current band lineup for Rites of Absolution.
Andrew Hudson (HARLOTT): Funny enough, Bonded by Blood is the kind of album I could never have even come close to drawing inspiration from. Its approach to songs is so far removed from how my brain works creatively that all I could ever do was sit back, marvel at it, and enjoy it.
Timo Ahlström (DEMONZTRATOR): Well I own a Schecter Gary Holt signature guitar and I've performed two songs from this album live with one band I used to play with (ArchiTorture) in the past. Exodus is a big influence for me. I can't deny that.
I think what makes this record so superior is that the band sounds completely homicidal and the riffs and songs are pure gold!
When you think of the album's importance and impact on the evolution of thrash metal, would you go as far as stating that if this album had never been recorded, the thrash metal scene would sound different today?
Tom Martin (LICH KING): I think that's fair. A lot of people chase that particular sound. I don't know if the next few albums wouldn't have filled that void the same way, but if BbB wasn't around we'd at least have had a more melodic early thrash sound, and... enough. We've had well enough of that.
Reaper (LAID TO WASTE): I think it would be definitely be in my top 10 best and most influential thrash albums of the genre, but I don't think that thrash would be different without its existence.
Steve Gaines (ANGER AS ART): A two-fold answer. Musically, it set the pace for where guitar teams would go and how rhythm sections needed to approach violent thrash (which is what I considered what we were doing). The biggest change was with Baloff. He was the first vocalist who made that screaming, shouting off-key style palatable. He had incredible stage presence. As a lead vocalist, up to this point, singers were expected to sing. After Baloff, the doors were opened for anyone with subpar singing ability (but incredible stage presence) to think they were as good as Baloff. And suddenly for thrash, singers who could actually carry a note were not needed as much. That is both good and bad. It upped the aggression in the presentation, but it also allowed "cheerleaders" (who were nowhere near as good as Baloff) to be "singers" which ushered in the cookie monster vocalist. No Paul Baloff? No cookie monster.
Col. Kmu (STRIKE MASTER): Of course, Exodus and Bonded by Blood are the cement of our music. We owe respect to that album and will always. Our genre is known worldwide due to the iconic music this band delivered on this album.
Patrick Bauer (SKELETON PIT): That's difficult to say, but I think no. Today's sound is a mix of so many different styles and influences, that I would say one album doesn't make such a big difference. Of course, a lot of albums would sound different, but the basic style or sound of thrash metal is much more than one album or even one band.
Joe McGuigan (GAMA BOMB): Very difficult to tell. I think if this album had been released in 1984 when it was recorded and originally supposed to be released, Exodus could have pipped Anthrax to the post and been in the Big 4. Then again, Baloff's vocals were very un-mainstream.
James Benson (MASON): If Exodus were never around, the music world would be a VERY different place. Just think of the domino effect it would've created. Kirk Hammett being one of them.
Clayton Cagle (HATCHET): Oh, man. BbB is a blueprint that people are STILL trying to replicate. It can't be done. Obviously, it sounds a little dated now, production-wise, but nothing compares; it's timeless. The only argument I'll make, however, is that I don't think it really would have mattered if they recorded it or not. They had already been playing those songs for years, prior to its release. There were demos... Exodus were already hugely influential in the scene before BbB came out. I think they could have broken up in 1984, never put the record out, and we would still be talking about those songs today. It's just a shame they couldn't get their game together earlier. Who knows how big Exodus would be right now if BbB came out in 1983 instead of 85, you know?
But if we adjust the question to "if Exodus never existed at all," then we have a huge case for all of modern music looking WAY different. No Exodus means no Kirk Hammett, which means Metallica looks much different, which potentially means the last 40 years of rock music could be missing some cornerstone albums and watershed moments. So, in addition to Exodus' musical influence, there is also an understated cultural influence that I feel is rarely considered.
Spyros Lafias (CHRONOSPHERE): It's difficult to realize nowadays that this album was released back in 1985, when music had not yet reached its most extreme level. I don't know if thrash metal would or wouldn't be the same, but we can say for sure that this album created another path in music where bands used that as beginning and started developing their own sound.
Abdulla Muijrers (MOTÖR MILITIA): Bonded by Blood raised the bar, and everyone took notice. Exodus have such an original and unique sound in thrash, and they have influenced so many bands including ours. Without them we would sound different and I'm sure other bands would admit the same. We are a better band for having been exposed to it, it's s timeless masterpiece.
Francisco Haussmann (NUCLEAR): Difficult question. While it is true that both Metallica and Slayer had already released their debut albums by the time Bonded by Blood came out, it is also true that "thrash metal" was at a very early phase and not many knew much about it. In my personal opinion, Exodus struck with a wilder attitude and therefore, their music was more chaotic, so to speak. Technically they sounded different, maybe even better than Metallica and Slayer at first, but for some reason they didn't make it big back then. If you listen to Bonded by Blood carefully, every song was made so you can mosh to it, the guitar work is spotless, and Paul Baloff was without a doubt the best front man back then. Answering your question, Bonded by Blood could've been overlooked by the media but definitely not by the metalheads and other bands, so yes, thrash metal wouldn't sound the same without it.
Maik Jegszenties (MESSERSCHMITT): I don't think so. Many other bands came up with that kind of style at the same time. But there would be a big hole in the genre if that album hadn't been released!
Joe (EVIL INVADERS): Hell yeah! You can clearly hear that so many bands were inspired by it. Despite the fact that we don't sound like Exodus, I know my music would surely sound a lot different if it wasn't for that record.
Alexandr Zhoglichev (FALLEN NATION): It's a rather tough question and I don't really have an answer. Every new demo, every new song, every new show; it feels like bands in the Bay Area raised the bar for each other every week. I think you have to be there to answer this question. As for me personally, I think that this is the first album where all the crucial elements of thrash came together at their extremes and for sure it's one of the biggest influences on me. Even though thrash metal would still exist without it, we'd never get to hear one of its best creations, a big loss on its own, right?
Tasos Tzimorotas (THE BLEEDING): There is some very interesting history behind the release of Bonded by Blood, so here's my take on it. Exodus was already legendary in the scene with its outrageous live performances and was influencing literally everyone. Slayer were heavily influenced by Exodus and changed their direction to match that ferocity. However, problems with Exodus' record label resulted in the album getting released a year later than it should, in 1985 instead of 1984. Those were fast changing times in the thrash metal scene so that delay diminished the impact of the album as Metallica and Slayer were already on their second studio offerings. The cover artwork was banned and that also had an effect on the release. So to answer your question, I don't think that the album on its own affected things so much, but the Baloff era of Exodus not only influenced the entire thrash scene but in a way also spawned death metal, as Possessed used to state that their main influence was Exodus when they started. Bonded by Blood at the time it was actually recorded, was the most extreme album of all time!
Andrew Hudson (HARLOTT): Thrash is a man with many hats, and those pioneering bands all had their own way of blending their roots into something new.
While the album obviously had a huge impact on the scene, and enormous influence on the music that followed, to suggest that its absence would have stopped the certain eventuality of its sound denies the acknowledgement of many other talented and creative musicians.
Timo Ahlström (DEMONZTRATOR): It's a very important album for the genre. I'm sure there wouldn't be a band named Bonded by Blood without this album. Many of the newer bands are, of course, influenced by this music. There are so many singers who are influenced by Baloff's vocal style.
I was born the same year this album came out. It would've been interesting to be there and hear it back then.
Gary Holt is a human riff machine, no doubt. If you had a chance to ask Gary, face to face, about how to make a killer riff, what would you ask him?
Tom Martin (LICH KING): I'd ask him for his best onion dip recipe, then give him a hug and a tickle and traipse along my merry way.
Reaper (LAID TO WASTE): Haha! I would probably just drink some beers with him and not try to ask this kind of questions. Just looking at him play is a bigger lesson than any words he ever said and will ever say. :)
Steve Gaines (ANGER AS ART): I have spoken with Gary on several occasions. Shared bills, on tour, etc. So, I would not necessarily ask him questions about guitar. Although, about 15 years ago, he and I did discuss players who rely too much on the whammy bar... haha!!
I would love to ask him if he could see himself replacing Glenn Tipton in Judas Priest as touring guitarist. (Imagine THAT, if you will) I might ask him some questions about his battle with Covid-19 from the European tour... or, maybe not. I recognize Gary for the hero he is, without a doubt. But, I also know Gary the human being.
Col. Kmu (STRIKE MASTER): As a guitarist, I would ask him about how he builds structure for combining riffs and the intention of those riffs in certain songs along his music career. Also, if his years in Slayer will reflect in any upcoming Exodus material someday? Other than that, I would be kind of shocked to share some words with him.
Happy birthday to one of the greatest thrash metal masterpieces ever! BONDED BY BLOOD...!!!
Patrick Bauer (SKELETON PIT): Honestly, I wouldn't ask him anything about making riffs, as I think he wouldn't have a proper answer :D
I think writing riffs is just mixing your own style, preferences, skill and mood. The quality of writing riffs depends on so many different aspects, that I think even Gary cannot write monster riffs every day. I think sometimes it flows and sometimes it doesn't. But undeniably, he is the best riff maker of all time. I love him and his style and I learned a lot from practicing his riffs.
Joe McGuigan (GAMA BOMB): Gama Bomb have toured with Exodus on a number of occasions, so I've vetted him on all these riffs. Gary and Tom are still at the absolute top of their game and playing better than any of their contemporaries, so cheers to 35 years of Bonded by Blood. As for a question for Gary; when are Exodus gonna go full Maiden and have a third guitarist?!
James Benson (MASON): I actually met Gary Holt back home in Melbourne where Mason are from. I think it was his first tour with Slayer. We spoke briefly about guitar tones and his old modded Marshall amps, shared some McDonald's chips and went our separate ways. Cool dude and definitely a riff machine!
Clayton Cagle (HATCHET): I love Gary! Though I'm not sure I'd ask him anything, so much as I would just listen, as I have been for a decade now. For him, it has to be natural. Whereas the rest of us, we have to analyze and study guys like him. That's been my strategy so far and I'd say it's worked out alright! One thing is for sure though, there are about 10,000 bands out there that owe dude royalties for stolen riffs (mine included, probably).
Happy 35th Anniversary, Bonded by Blood!!
Spyros Lafias (CHRONOSPHERE): No need to ask him anything at all. Sometimes you get the answer by just seeing him on stage. Deeds speak louder than words, right?
Creating a riff is not about studying music or using specific notes. It's about feeling the vibes of the instrument and sound. Besides, a few months ago, Gary commented on our song "Brutal Decay" where he praised the riffing and that was one of the most honorable moments of Chronosphere.
Abdulla Muijrers (MOTÖR MILITIA): Gary Holt is a thrash icon without a doubt. I was lucky enough to meet some of the guys in Exodus in 2009. I met Tom, Lee and briefly Gary. Also, Darren from Heathen at the time. They were all super cool to me and that's always so amazing, to meet your heroes and not be disappointed. More recently got to hang out with Zetro here in Bahrain when he played with Hail! I still can't believe that actually happened! Such a cool and down to earth guy as well!
Sebastián Puente (NUCLEAR): Which aspect do you think is the most important to create a killer riff: picking, drum pattern or melody?
Maik Jegszenties (MESSERSCHMITT): Hmm... to be honest, I'm not a fan of him, haha. I don't like that sloppy solo style with all the wah-wah and just fast picking. I think that's a big point in all thrash metal bands. Just playing a fast solo doesn't make it good. I'm 30 now and not that big thrash metal fan anymore and I'm pretty sure the solos are one of the reasons.
Joe (EVIL INVADERS): I think it's just something that runs through his veins. Unexplainable. I'd just buy the man a drink.
Alexandr Zhoglichev (FALLEN NATION): I would love to meet Gary, but I don't think I'll have to ask him anything about making riffs. His riffs are self-explanatory; just by breaking them down and learning those riffs as a teen, I've learned how riffs in thrash metal work. By learning songs like, say, "A Lesson in Violence" or "Piranha", I have learned what makes a riff heavy, what makes it catchy, what makes it sound evil, what makes it sound dramatic etc. and how you create a good song out of them. I would rather thank him for his influence on me and I would certainly ask him to tell me some crazy story from the early days!
Tasos Tzimorotas (THE BLEEDING): I'd ask Gary how he got in such creative state of mind for Bonded by Blood that the material feels boundless?
Andrew Hudson (HARLOTT): I'm not even sure that the man's processes could be put into words. There is surely more at work than he could explain to me verbally, and I honestly wouldn't want the chance for the magic to be spoiled.
I would simply thank him for the work that he has done and plead that he doesn't stop.
Timo Ahlström (DEMONZTRATOR): I've had the pleasure of meeting Gary once! I didn't ask for any advice, though. I just basically thanked him for the music. He's a really cool guy and I'm happy that he can now put his complete focus on Exodus!
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