In a new interview with Yes! You CAN Play Guitar!, former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson discussed so-called “Big Four” of 1980s thrash metal — METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX.: “Well, I think if you opened that gate at all, it’d have to be ‘Big Six’, because you’d let in EXODUS and then you’d probably let in OVERKILL. ‘Cause you’d have to get a West Coast [band] and an East Coast [act], ’cause I think it starts to go like that.
When asked if “Big Four” is ever to be expanded to “Big Five,” who would get the extra slot, Ellefson responded: “Well, I think if you opened that gate at all, it’d have to be ‘Big Six’, because you’d let in EXODUS and then you’d probably let in OVERKILL. ‘Cause you’d have to get a West Coast [band] and an East Coast [act], ’cause I think it starts to go like that.
“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 sh*t, man. Tom Hunting‘s the guy.’
“It’s my opinion that after Kerry played with [MEGADETH in 1984], 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.” Ellefson added. 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.”
During last year’s episode of MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn‘s “No F*ckin’ Regrets With Robb Flynn,” ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian has once again said that EXODUS‘s Bonded By Blood is the best debut album to have been released by any of the “Big Five” thrash metal bands.
“The powers that be, like the mayor of heavy metal — maybe Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] needs to get a phone call — and he can decree that the ‘Big Four’ needs to officially be changed to the ‘Big Five’ because it always bugged me that EXODUS doesn’t get the representation and the credit where credit is due,” Ian said.
“And I understand the ‘Big Four’ — I get it. Because maybe the four bands had more success certainly coming out of the ’80s whereas EXODUS certainly had their peaks and valleys and maybe didn’t have the same success going forward as some of the other bands. But the way I look at it is if you wanna look at the bands that really were there at the inception, Bonded By Blood was out way before [MEGADETH‘s] Killing Is My Business… Dave [Mustaine] was in METALLICA [before forming MEGADETH], but Kirk [Hammett] was in EXODUS [before joining METALLICA]. It’s, like, come on.
He continued: “I’m actually not kidding. I know this is a silly thing, but I truly believe that it needs to be [changed to ‘Big Five’] because ‘Bonded By Blood’ was such… I mean, come on. I’ve gone on record — I think it’s the best debut record of the five of us. It’s my favorite of the five — hands down — and such an influential record. And I just think it officially needs to be changed. I just think it’s something that’s been overlooked. And they just deserve the credit, man — they absolutely deserve it. And every time it comes up, I say, ‘You know, it should be the ‘Big Five’.’ And whatever — that probably opens a hundred other doors.”