"Paul Baloff: Kill the posers"
In the beginning of the 80's, thrash metal was in its peak of popularity. It was the time metalheads witnessed the transition of sound taking a more speedy, trashy, gritty and primitive form, drawing influences from the hardcore punk scene and heavy metal juggernauts Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Motorhead and Venom to name a few. One of the bands who were able to make a massive mark in shaping the genre was the California-based band, Exodus. The band is considered to be a pioneering thrash metal band to hail from the States. Leading the band as a frontman at that time was Paul Baloff, who devoted all his life for the genre and gave us gems like Bonded by Blood (1985), Lessons in violence (1992) and Another lesson in violence (1997). Paul is remembered for his distinctive husky voice and aggressive live performances, and also for coining the phrase "Kill the posers" in the early thrash metal scene. He had also contributed in bands like Hirax, Heathen and Piranha which all played thrash metal.
Paul was born on April 25, 1960 and resided in El Cerrito, California. It was 1981 when founding Exodus member Kirk Hammett came across Paul at a house party and the two instantly got along having similar taste and passion for the same kind of music. Paul replaced Keith Stewart as Exodus' new frontman and released several demos in the span of 3 years (1982-1984). In 1985, he sang in the highly acclaimed, influencial thrash metal album, Bonded by Blood. Till this date, the album is regarded as a glowing gem in the history of thrash metal and metal entirely.
After touring for Bonded by Blood in 1986, Paul Baloff was dismissed from the band due to musical and personal differences between him and the other members. Former Legacy member Steve Souza filled the vacant spot to replace him as the band's frontman. He was still given writer credits in the band's second full-length album Pleasures of the Flesh. Paul went on to form another California-based thrash metal act Piranha after his dismissal from Exodus. Piranha recorded a demo called "Big fucking teeth" in 1988 which was produced by Metallica frontman James Hetfield. Soon after the release of the demo, Paul joined Heathen to replace David Godfrey and released a demo in 1988 named after him, "Demo with Paul Baloff". He again went on to reform a broken Piranha, completely changing the band's line-up. A four tracked demo was recorded but remained unfinished as Paul was never around to lay down the vocal tracks for the demo. Piranha split up in 1993 after a series of tragedies concerning the band's line-up changes and instability.
|Paul (center) with Piranha|
After releasing and touring for Force of Habit in 1992, Exodus went on a long hiatus due to several reasons sorrounding them. In 1997, guitarists Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt decided to resurrect an almost defunct Exodus, recruiting a new bassist Jack Gibson and reuniting former members Tom Hunting and Paul Baloff. Right after the reformation, they released a live album entitled "Another lesson in violence". Unfortunately, the band again disbanded over a financial dispute and personal conflicts with the record label Century Media. In 2001, the band once again reunited to play the "Thrash of the titans" concert and did a number of local gigs around the San Francisco Bay Area.
In February 2, 2002, Paul Baloff died of a major stroke leaving him in a coma, and after being declared brain dead, his life support was taken off by doctors. He was 41 and under the monitor of Highland General Hospital in Oakland, California. According to Gary Holt, Paul had two minor strokes before the major stroke that killed him. The news sent shock waves and grief to all the metal fans around the globe as it had come off unexpected to many. A gloomy day for the thrash-heads.
Exodus had two nights booked to play in Anaheim, California before the mishap. However, due to concert commitments, the band performed both nights with former vocalist Steve Souza taking Paul's spot. The band continued to exist despite the tragic event and in 2004, they released the album "Tempo of the damned" in memory of Paul. In 2008, a re-recording of the band's revolutionary album "Bonded by Blood" was released featuring songs from the classic album but performed by the existing Exodus members. The album was released to give the songs the benefit of modern production and pay homage to the deceased legend. Several tribute shows were organized in his memory including the recent "Bonded by Baloff: A decade of remembrance 2012" mourning a decade of his passing. Band who signed up for this event were Possessed, Exodus, Heathen, Forbidden and other Bay Area thrash metal bands.
|Cliff Burton(left) with Paul Baloff(right)|
American rapper Ill Bill released a song and a music video entitled "Paul Baloff", where a recording of Bill talking to Paul in a Piranha radio interview is sampled at the end of the song. Bill mentioned Paul to be one of his childhood heroes in an interview.
Paul Baloff was the epitome of aggressiveness. He shall be remembered in the corner of our black hearts as an all-time great, an influencial and unique frontman, an energy junkie on stage, a poser despiser and a true devotee of thrash metal. He shall remain heavier than time and immortal in our hearts, thrashing with the fallen ones.
Rage in Peace, Paul Baloff!
Born on: 5th April, 1960
Birthplace: California, USA
Band(s) involved: Exodus, Piranha, Heathen, Hirax, Spastik Children, Killparty
Passed on: 2nd February, 2002
Cause of death: Stroke
A compilation of video interviews conducted with Paul Baloff on Reality Check TV:
EXODUS- BONDED BY BLOOD 
1. Bonded by blood
3. And then there were none
4. A lesson in violence
5. Metal command
7. No love
8. Deliver us to evil
9. Strike of the beast