In the vaunted halls of thrash metal, the “Big Four”—Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax—are considered by most to be the genre’s standard-bearers. And while there may be some debate as to who would join their ranks if the list were expanded, ex-Megadeth bassist David Ellefson made the case for Exodus’ inclusion during a recent interview with Yes! You CAN Play Guitar! (transcribed by Blabbermouth.)
“If there was a ‘Big Five’, it would be Exodus, for sure, because, look, from them came [Metallica guitarist] Kirk Hammett. They were staples of the scene up there. I remember [Slayer guitarist] Kerry King telling me, ‘[Exodus drummer] Tom Hunting’s the shit, man. Tom Hunting’s the guy.’
Ellefson, who was ousted from Megadeth earlier this year following sexual misconduct allegations, went on to say that the list would have to expand to the “Big Six” to include Overkill, citing the need to “get a West Coast [band] and an East Coast [act]” into the mix.
The idea of including Exodus in an expanded “Big Six” list is nothing new. As for their impact on the other bands that were playing out on the West Coast, Ellefson suggested that Slayer may have been irreversibly changed by Exodus’s signature speed.
“It’s my opinion that after Kerry played with [Megadeth], he met the Exodus guys, he saw Exodus play, he learned how Tom Hunting played, he went home and made [Slayer drummer] Dave Lombardo play like Tom Hunting. [Laughs] That’s why Slayer got so fast. Those five shows Kerry did with us that brought us to the Bay Area opened his eyes to, like, ‘Wow. This is how it’s done.’ And then he went back to L.A. and he carried on away from Megadeth and he carried on with Slayer. But he whipped Slayer into shape, ’cause he had seen… ‘Thine eyes had seen the glory’ of what thrash metal really was from the Bay Area, and that helped Slayer become Slayer.”
Ellefson is currently in the studio with his new band Dieth. The video for their first single, “In the Hall of the Hanging Serpents,” can be seen below.