California Thrash Bloodlines

So much has already been written about thrash metal and its rich history. We know the genre originated in the United States, and that California is generally considered its proper birthplace. We have also heard the story of the "Big 4" numerous times, and watched Metallica travel from biggest thrash band in the world to biggest band in the past 30 years, almost a modern day Led Zeppelin in stature and popularity.

I thought it was interesting looking back over the past 30 or so years at how many musicians have played with multiple California thrash bands. Some filled in for a few shows and never recorded anything with a particular outfit; others wrote songs and appeared on recordings for several bands. The willingness of these musicians to perform with, and in many cases join other bands from the same scene exemplifies the camaraderie and brotherhood espoused by heavy metal music the world over.


For the uninitiated, a brief look at each musician in the graphic.

Dave Mustaine, founder, guitarist, and vocalist of Megadeth got his start in Metallica. Though he did not appear on any official releases, his songwriting credits grace the first three Metallica studio albums. Mustaine's fingerprints are all over thrash's history pages.

Kirk Hammett was once one half of the original Exodus twin guitar attack. Hammett famously succeeded Mustaine in Metallica, and has remained with them to this day.

Steve Souza, current vocalist of Hatriot, got his start as Testament's lead singer prior to the band changing their name from Legacy to Testament. He then went on to front Exodus after original vocalist Paul Baloff and the band parted ways.


Kerry King is a founding member and lead guitarist of Slayer and also helped round out the earliest incarnation of Megadeth for live shows. King and Mustaine had a falling out, not speaking to each other for many years before recently reconciling. The fruits of their reconciliation culminated in a co-headlining tour where each band played their 1990 albums, Slayer's Seasons in the Abyss and Megadeth's Rust in Peace, in their entirety.

Paul Bostaph, drummer extraordinaire, replaced Dave Lombardo of Slayer for a spell and also played off and on with Testament most notably on the band's reunion album The Formation of Damnation. Bostaph also sat behind the kit for another west coast thrash band, Forbidden. Forbidden has also featured guitarist Steve Smyth who was at one time a touring guitarist for Testament.


John Tempesta joined Exodus in the early 1990s but by the middle of the decade was sitting behind the kit with Testament. He has also drummed with Rob Zombie, White Zombie, Helmet, and most recently the Cult.

Jon Dette replaced Paul Bostaph in Slayer, though he never recorded with them, then went on to play with Testament and again did not stick around long enough to record. Interestingly, Dette recently pulled double duty on an Australian tour drumming for New York's Anthrax and Slayer.


Gene Hoglan actually is credited with providing some backing vocals on Slayer's Show No Mercy but ostensibly got his true start with Dark Angle. He currently drums for Testament, his second stint with the band. Mr.Hoglan has played drums for a veritable who's who in the metal world. Regardless of what your favorite metal sub genre is, Hoglan has probably been featured on a recording you regularly listen to, including Fear Factory, Dethklok, Strapping Young Lad, and Old Man's Child.

Lee Altus spent the 80s and early 90s playing guitar in Heathen before moving to Germany and leaving thrash to play industrial metal with Die Krupps before being recruited to fill Rick Hunolt's vacated guitar spot in Exodus.


Robert Trujillo is Metallica's bass player, but his pedigree also includes a run with crossover thrash legends Suicidal Tendencies. Trujillo also played in Ozzy Osbourne's band, and in long time Osbourne guitar messiah Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society.

Gary Holt is the heart and soul of Exodus, running the band with a determined will even after the loss at various times of the aforementioned Kirk Hammett, Steve "Zetro" Souza, and Rick Hunolt, as well as the death of original vocalist Paul Baloff. For the past 2-3 years Holt has also been teaming up with Kerry King in the current edition of Slayer.

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