|Exhorder is a thrash/groove metal band formed in New Orleans, Louisiana during the late 1980s. They are often credited as the purveyors of the groove-oriented thrash sound later made famous by bands such as Pantera, Machine Head, and White Zombie.
Exhorder was formed in 1985 in New Orleans and was one of the bands that helped shape the "Louisiana sound," a common sound shared between many metal bands from the state. They released two demos, one in 1986 called Get Rude, and another one, Slaughter in the Vatican in 1988. Exhorder split up shortly after the recording of the demo, but reformed with new guitarist Jay Ceravolo (who replaced David Main).
Slaughter in the Vatican, the band's first full-length album, was released in 1990. The album was spawned from the 1988 demo of the same name, and solidified their chugging tight riffs with a rigid structure style. The album grew some ire because of the offensive title and front cover. Their second offering, 1992's The Law, was more so in the vein of groove metal rather than pure thrash and did not have the same effect as their debut. After their European tour in support of the album, the band split. Vocalist Kyle Thomas went on to form Floodgate with his brother, as well as briefly appearing live as the vocalist for Trouble. Afterwards he fronted Jones's Lounge, and is currently the singer for bands Pitts vs. Preps and Alabama Thunderpussy. Guitarist Jay Ceravolo formed Fall from Grace. Chris Nail is co-owner of the 7 C&M Music Center locations in LA and MS.
Exhorder reunited for a few reunion gigs in 2001 and 2003 both in New Orleans. On May 9th, 2008, it was announced that the band had reunited and had begun writing material As of May 9th, 2008, the band's official myspace page contains the reunited group's lineup as well as the headline "writing new material for the return of Exhorder"
It has long been claimed that Exhorder pioneered the post-thrash metal that is often linked to Pantera, as Exhorder were signed to a record label around the same time as Pantera (though Exhorder first released their music on demos in the 1980s, while Pantera was playing glam metal music. Many have claimed that Pantera stole Exhorder's sound, with the resemblance of stripped-down rhythm guitars, heavy double-bass drumming, and almost identical vocals (complimenting the basic American thrash style of the late 80's). However, Exhorder's first album Slaughter in the Vatican was more in the vein of pure thrash, and Exhorder did not introduce heavy use of groove metal techniques until they released the Law on March 15, 1992, which still leaves the controversy of which band was the true pioneer of groove metal as Pantera already had two Groove metal releases (Cowboys From Hell two years beforehand and Vulgar Display of Power a month beforehand) before Exhorder released The Law, being Exhorder's first groove metal release.
Allmusic points to several elements of Exhorder's debut that could potentially explain its lack of success in relation to Pantera. In disagreement with the opinion that Exhorder is "Pantera minus the good songs," AMG's review of Slaughter in the Vatican expresses that "perhaps a more accurate billing would be to call them Pantera without the major label backing." They also point to the fact that the title of Exhorder's debut, along with the unsubtle album cover, "certainly didn't help [its] cause any."
However, some fans and critics dispute any notion that Pantera "stole" Exhorder's sound. Brian Davis, a contributor to Internet radio station KNAC, addresses the issue as follows:
Exhorder's main "claim to fame" is the common opinion that they're the band that Pantera stole their sound from. That's total bullshit. There are minor similarities in guitar style, and on occasion, vocalist Kyle Thomas spits out a line or scream that will bring Pantera to mind, but to go so far as to say that Pantera is an Exhorder clone is ludicrous.
Despite originally decrying Pantera as a rip-off to their sound, former lead vocalist of Exhorder, Kyle Thomas, has stated that he does not care about any of the criticism and is sick of seeing Exhorder's name tied to Pantera's. He also stated that he and the members of Pantera were great friends who used to tour together, and that he mourns the loss of Dimebag Darrell. Recently, Thomas suggested that while it is possible Pantera may have ripped Exhorder off and was definitely influenced by his band, the members of Pantera "work[ed] a ... lot harder than [they] did."