45. Exodus, 'Bonded by Blood' (1985)
If the so-called Big Four thrash bands – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax – expanded to five, Exodus would complete the cadre, simply because of the way their debut, Bonded by Blood, explodes from the stereo. Frontman Paul Baloff, who, as legend has it would rip Mötley Crüe and Ratt T-shirts off fans at Exodus shows, wrapping them around his wrists as "war trophies," sounds like a man possessed by mayhem, wreaking comic-book carnage all over the record. On one song he promises to teach doubters "A Lesson in Violence"; on the title track he urges fans to bang their heads against the stage until they bleed ("Murder in the front row!"); on another, he prays to Lucifer to "Deliver Us to Evil." Meanwhile, the rest of the band – led by guitarist Gary Holt and foil Rick Hunolt (who eventually replaced Kirk Hammett after he left for Metallica in 1983) – provided melodic, tough-guy gang vocals to "And Then There Were None" and plied whiplash-inducing, breakneck-paced riffing on anthems like "Strike of the Beast" and the galloping "Piranha." Exodus were so raucous while making the LP that the owner of the studio where they recorded claims that they caused more damage there than any other band. "You get a bunch of kids together with loads of alcohol and shit, and what do you think will happen?" Holt once said. "We had a party every night, invited up our friends from the Bay Area, and there'd be some drunken brawls. ... It's great to know we made such an impact." Ultimately, Baloff's alcohol consumption became too much for the band, which kicked him out in 1986, and, even though he returned in 1997 for intermittent live performances before his death in 2002, the group never again made a record as ragged and vital as Bonded by Blood. K.G.