In a new interview with Heavy culturesinger Kylie Thomas of New Orleans thrash metal pioneers EXHORDER was again asked about his band’s alleged influence on PANTERA‘s decision to move from a power metal act to a more aggressive form of thrash. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “PANTERA had evolution. They used to be a little glamorous, and I don’t know if the music was necessarily as glamorous as maybe the looks. But a lot of heavy metal bands… I mean, l played in heavy metal bands before I joined EXHORDER where I wore the spandex pants and black eyeliner. We all did at some point – not everyone, but some people did. A lot of the thrash bands we love these days – KILLER, DEvastation – they wore makeup and leather and wristbands with spikes and stuff.
“PANTERA goods terribly good for even, for [singer] Phillip Anselmo Joined them. They were very good and well established at what they did, a very hard working band. Utilities, Phil is from New Orleans, just like us. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers. We’ve been friends for a long time. In fact, that platinum album on [my] wall behind it was a gift from Phil. That’s for [PANTERA‘s] ‘Driven far beyond’ [album]. So we’ve been friends for a long time.
“I think a lot of the controversy was driven mostly by the media and fans,” Kyle explained. “For me, I was friends with Darrell [Abbott, PANTERA guitarist] also. I’ve been friends with rex [Brown, PANTERA bassist] a long, long time. I’ve known these guys for years.
“Did we do what they ended up doing before they did it? In a sense, there were things that we did that they ended up doing and we did them first. But that doesn’t necessarily mean, I think, that there was some kind of blatant rip-off or anything.
“Phil almost joined EXHORDER for a minute. The band was reforming and I wasn’t interested, so Phil was asked by the band if he wanted to sing, and he said yes. And when I found out Phil wanted my job, I took my job back. [Laughs] That’s kind of how that went.
“A lot of bands were interested in it Phil at the time. I know METAL CHURCH was interested in Phil. So I think he went to the boys PANTERA and he was like, ‘I’m really interested in doing a little bit more than what we’re doing right now. So listen to me.’ And I think they just kind of took it out.
“I know we’re one of… We are still one of the Philfavorite band,” Kyle added. “He’s told me this before, and people I know tell me the same thing. I know he’s a huge fan, and he did a great job helping us build the underground in the Dallas/Fort Worth area when he lived there with the PANTERA guys just build all those things.
“It’s frustrating to me because I think it’s sort of the poor man’s version of METALLICS vs MEGADETH. I don’t think it needs to be such a big conversation anymore. Basically, we reformed in 2017 and we’re still going strong, about to make our second album in that time frame. And they are [PANTERA] put on some shows with some friends to bring the band and the songs back to life, which I think is great. So there is room for both.”
Back in 2013, Anselmo denied that EXHORDER was of great influence PANTERA‘s sound, telling Examiner.com“It’s absolutely not true. EXHORDER was a great band, don’t get me wrong. And for their time on the New Orleans local scene in 1988, as far as skill level is concerned, they really upped the game for everyone. To this day I am still very good friends with their singer, who is now the singer ISSUE. Kyle and i come from the same school of heavy metal singing – Robert Halford, Don Doty from DARK ANGELand Tom Araya – so there are similarities between us, but musically I don’t hear it at all.”
In a 2007 interview with Midwest metal, Kyle addressed the possibility that EXHORDER inspired PANTERA“What I hate most about this topic is how enthralled we are by their success. Did they scam us? Possible. Was it intentional? Perhaps. Were they influenced by us? Absolute. Did they work much harder than us? Absolute. Case closed.’
Thomas is now the only remaining founding member of EXHORDERwho said goodbye to the original guitarist Vinnie LaBella in February 2020.