Exhorder is an American hardcore-inspired thrash metal band from New Orleans, Louisiana. Formed in 1986, the quintet embarked on an exciting, yet tumultuous journey that would bring euphoric peaks, as well as crippling valleys throughout its existence. With a fresh, influential sound unlike any other at the time of its inception, the Exhorder fire grew quickly in its hometown. Under the guidance and influence of Louisiana bands that preceded them (Shell Shock, Graveyard Rodeo, Chaos Horde), Exhorder quickly became a headlining favorite before the majority of the band had even matured to adulthood. Packing clubs and VFW halls, the band sought out to record its first demo, Get Rude. As the popularity of the band grew, they ventured out of New Orleans into regional performances, opening for hardcore legends Agnostic Front, Corrosion of Conformity, and The Henry Rollins Band. In 1987 with a new batch of intense music, the band re-entered the studio to record the controversial classic demo, Slaughter in the Vatican. From this point on, the international attention the band drew via the world of underground tape trading was undeniable. Exhorder suddenly were on the worldwide map! As fate would have it, the band broke up for the first time in early 1988 due to internal struggles. A reformation ensued later that year, with guitarist David Main being replaced by newcomer Jay Ceravolo. Exhorder set out once again to pursue its vision.
After the initial deal the band signed with Mean Machine Records, the label dissolved before the band’s debut could be completed. The contract was subsequently purchased by R/C Records, a subsidiary of Roadracer/Roadrunner Records in the United States. With a small recording budget and much repair to previous sessions leaving the band dissatisfied, Slaughter in the Vatican was completed and released with the assistance of legendary producer Scott Burns in 1990, nearly five years after much of the material was written. The band would struggle to support the debut on small tours, often self funded. Frustration ensued, with original bassist Andy Villafarra leaving and returning several times, until he finally walked away for good in 1991. His replacement, Frankie Sparcello, was an accomplished player who made his rounds in the local scene in previous years. The band continued on by supporting their debut as best as possible, and set out to record their follow up. In 1992, The Law was released, composed of a mixture of new material, songs from the Get Rude demo, and a remake of the Black Sabbath classic, "Into the Void". Once again struggling within the confines of small budgets and inexperience, the sessions eventually were completed with another thrash producing legend, Rob Beaton. Alas, the peaks and valleys would once again provide a difficult path for the boys. The band would eventually be kicked off of a co-headlining tour with Entombed, a tour which also included Ripping Corpse and dead horse as opening support. A headlining tour of Europe with direct support by Channel Zero followed, once again leaving the band in a whirlpool of highs and lows. Although the popularity of the band was growing, thrash music was losing popularity in favor of a newcomer- death metal. By the time 1993 rolled around, a new version of Exhorder was hanging on with little pulse. Vinnie La Bella and Frankie Sparcello were no longer present, and Chris Nail, Kyle Thomas, and Jay Ceravolo now welcomed veteran bassist Jason VieBrooks (Heathen) into rehearsals. Although the band had strung together a few songs that never went beyond rehearsal recordings, the band dissolved once again. Kyle went on to form Floodgate, Jay joined up with Fall from Grace, and Jason became a member of Grip, Inc. Chris pursued a successful business venture in band equipment sales. Exhorder, once again, was no more.
A reunion with The Law lineup in 2001 saw two local New Orleans area shows with nothing more to follow. In 2009 the same lineup saw reformation yet again, with the intention of the band doing a proper follow up to The Law. Band popularity had skyrocketed from where they left off in 1993, which was evident in their billing on the 2010 Rock Hard Festival in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Playing third to last before Accept and Kreator, the band drew immense interest and were televised live on Rockpalast!, and the hungry audience cemented the demand for Exhorder’s resurgence. Sadly, the following year bassist Frankie Sparcello died unexpectedly. After their brother in music was to rest, the band proceeded to honor the existing bookings with Seth Davis on drums, and Jorge Caicedo on bass, as well as returning bassist Jason VieBrooks for the very last shows. Once again, internal struggles plagued Exhorder. As a result, Kyle and Jay left the band, resulting in Exhorder‘s dormancy until 2017.
Legends grow over time, and new generations emerge to keep them alive! With the demand of Exhorder at an all time high, the band set out once again to finish the job they had not yet completed. Signing with All Independent Service Alliance, the band put together a top-shelf lineup including savvy veteran bassist Jason VieBrooks, explosive drummer Sasha Horn (Forbidden), and virtuoso guitarist extraordinaire Marzi Montazeri (Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals, Heavy as Texas). Exhorder set out on a series of club shows and festivals to immense interest. A deal with the Nuclear Blast was quickly inked, and in 2019 Exhorder finally released the album of their dreams, Mourn the Southern Skies. Rave reviews from critics and fans saw the band’s popularity increase yet again, and the band set out on the road to packed venues and large festivals. Still, the internal struggles would surface again. In February of 2020 guitarist Vinnie La Bella left Exhorder for good, so the band set out as a quartet for the first time. A direct support tour slot in front of Overkill was merely weeks away, therefore the band toiled intensely in rehearsals to prepare for the tour. Live reviews of the tour and audience reaction proved that the hunger for this band by the public continues to grow. As the world currently waits out the COVID-19 pandemic, Exhorder is taking advantage of the down time by writing incessantly. With pre-production for the follow up to Mourn the Southern Skies in full swing, expect a new release and rescheduled dates for 2021, with full tours in tow. As the old saying goes, you can’t kill bad grass! Follow the band on social media and their website through the links below:
”There was a time when the only things most metal fans knew about EXHORDER were that they sounded like, you know, that other band, and that they wrote bad things about the Pope. Roughly 53 minutes after you press play on "Mourn the Southern Skies", the most important thing to know about EXHORDER is that they've just made one of the finest metal records of 2019.“
-Dom Lawson, Blabbermouth 9/10 rating
”Marinated in two and a half decades of quashed dreams and frustration, the urgency here is through the roof, and the underlying energy has fermented to whole new levels of nastiness.“
-Sam Law, Kerrang! 4/5 rating
"Despite the recent setback, Montazeri toughed things out and shredded on stage, never missing a beat to songs like “Unforgiven” and the classic “Slaughter in the Vatican”. Sporting a shirt that made me laugh more than it should have (“I Shaved My Balls For This”), bassist Jason Viebrooks strummed away onstage while drummer Sasha Horn played with such fierce intensity as Exhorder closed out their set with the song “Desecrator” off the 1990 album Slaughter in the Vatican, a giant circle pit slowly engulfing the floor of the venue.“
-Tammy Greene, The Greene Room Magazine
"Kyle is exactly the kind of manic frontman that makes “Slaughter in the Vatican” sound exactly like a natural for the band. Each member gave his all, and I didn’t feel the band was in any way lacking, so great job guys!”
-Brent Michael, rockatnight.com
Kyle Thomas - Vocals (Original member, Trouble, Heavy As Texas, formerly of Floodgate, Alabama Thunderpussy)
Marzi Montazeri - Guitar (ex-Superjoint Ritual, ex-Phil Anselmo & the Illegals, Heavy As Texas)
Jason VieBrooks - Bass (Member of 2011 Reunion, Heathen, Grip Inc.)
Sasha Horn - Drums (Forbidden)
Photo by Stephanie Cabral