New Orleans-based thrash metal pioneers EXHORDER have parted ways with founding guitarist Vinnie LaBella. The remaining members of the group have issued a statement saying that they will fulfill their „touring and recording obligations for 2020 and beyond.“ „EXHORDER and guitarist Vinnie LaBella have mutually agreed to part ways,“ the statement reads. „We wish the best for Vinnie moving forward. EXHORDER will continue business as usual, and we are excited to perform our touring and recording obligations for 2020 and beyond. The band can’t wait to see everyone on the ‚Wings Over The USA‘ tour featuringOVERKILL/EXHORDER/HYDRAFORM in the upcoming weeks!“ On Saturday, LaBella shared a link to EXHORDER’s latest single, „The Man That Never Was“, and wrote in an accompanying message: „All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Stage three begins today my friends. This will be my last release under the name EXHORDER. More to come…“ Singer Kyle Thomas is now the sole remaining founding member of EXHORDER, which released its first album in 27 years, „Mourn The Southern Skies“, last September via Nuclear Blast Records. The band is rounded out by Jason Viebrooks (HEATHEN) on bass, Marzi Montazeri (ex-SUPERJOINT RITUAL, PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS) on guitar and Sasha Horn (FORBIDDEN) on drums. In a 2019 interview with Heavy Music Headquarters, Thomas stated about his relationship with LaBella: „We’ve definitely had ups and downs over the years — a lot of frustrations. To be fair, there were a lot of pointed fingers, not just at me and Vinnie, but across the board. We felt we never accomplished reaching the level that we felt we should have. Along the way, frustrations boiled over and there were breakups. This time around, we thought it would be best to outsource a lot of the things we thought about to a third-party source, so we hired management with a company called All Independent Service Alliance. This way, Vinnie and I can focus on creativity, the writing process, working out the details on the artwork, instead of taking on business matters we’re not qualified to do or have the resources to do, like booking or distribution. I think it helped us rekindle our friendship, instead of having to deal with the elephant that’s in the room.“ Thomas also talked about the songwriting process for „Mourn The Southern Skies“, saying: „It starts out with Vinnie. Back in the day, it was Chris [Nail, drums]. They would sit down and get an arrangement together. Eventually, I come into the process where the words go, ‚maybe we need to extend two measures here.‘ Vinnie and I usually get the final arrangement together. Then the tracking starts around the drums. Once the drums are complete, we just start moving on it. I think the fact that this time around we have guys who are equally talented as the old guys were, maybe in different ways for each instrument, but we have a strong lineup. You have to be super talented to be in this band. You can’t just be a guy who dials it in. We’re that technical of a band. Everybody comes in, and for the most part, are ready to perform the task. We go in and start tracking those sounds.“ Kyle confirmed that the other members of EXHORDER didn’t have much input in the creative process for „Mourn The Southern Skies“. „Vinnie had so much music prepared from having taken so much time off,“ he said. „We didn’t have a shortage of material. There were a few songs that were written in the last year and a half, but some of it goes back to the late ’90s and early 2000s. There was definitely a back catalog right out of the gate. This time around, Vinnie had his vision laid out there. There is a song called ‚Rumination‘ that Jason wrote, so Vinnie sat down and tweaked it a little to give it more of an EXHORDER flair. Right out of the gates, it felt like it fit well enough to be worthy of the EXHORDER logo. By the time I had done what I did to it, it definitely felt like it belonged. Otherwise, Vinnie wrote everything. I wrote all the vocals and lyrics except for ‚Ripping Flesh‘, which Vinnie had written before I had even stepped to the plate in ’86.“ EXHORDER released two albums in the early 1990s through the Roadrunner label — 1990’s „Slaughter In The Vatican“ and 1992’s „The Law“ — before breaking up, with Kyle going on to form FLOODGATE and also briefly appearing live as the vocalist for TROUBLE, which he later joined on a full-time basis (and is still a member of). EXHORDER is cited by many as the originator of the riff-heavy power-groove approach popularized by PANTERA.
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