While there’s no denying that thrash metal was mostly made famous around the globe by the Big 4 of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, pioneering act Exodus played a major role in kickstarting the genre, as well.

Unfortunately for Exodus, the musical revolution they did so much to ignite quickly left them in its rearview mirror, mired in lineup instability (first they lost founding guitarist Kirk Hammett to Metallica, then jettisoned charismatic singer Paul Baloff after just one album), poor business decisions, the delayed release of crucial debut album, Bonded by Blood, and all around lacking promotional support.

Crafting quality songs consistently also became an issue, and every time Exodus managed to take a few steps forward with a truly exceptional album, they often followed it with a hastily recorded follow-up that would squander what momentum they had just gained, and so went the remainder of the 1980s for the star-crossed band.

Also, by remaining staunchly loyal to the rough and ready Bay Area style, Exodus simply didn’t achieve as much crossover appeal with traditional heavy metal fans as the Big Four, and by the time they tinkered with their formula on 1992’s Force of Habit, metal itself was in decline… but not forever!

Within a decade (give or take) these original thrash merchants had been resurrected by guitarist and driving force Gary Holt, and have since released as many studio albums in this second life as they’d done their first (though musicians, once again, came and went), with no evidence of another shutdown on the horizon -- even when Holt agreed to deputize for the ailing and eventually departed Jeff Hanneman in Slayer.

And whatever should come next in the Exodus story, the band has long transcended their admittedly checkered recording history and earned their well-deserved respect as one of thrash metal’s all-time greats.

So get ready for some good friendly violent fun as you see how we ranked Exodus' albums in the gallery above!

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