Exodus' Gary Holt: 6 Great Non-Metal Albums for Metalheads | Revolver

Exodus' Gary Holt: 6 Great Non-Metal Albums for Metalheads

From Prince's "musical perfection" to Discharge's "nasty, gnarly" punk
gary-holt-by-jimmyhubbard-077a6947-web-crop.jpg, Jimmy Hubbard
photograph by Jimmy Hubbard

"I have very non-metal tastes," says Exodus leader Gary Holt. "A good song is a good song. I mean, I remember on our first tour with Venom [in 1985], I had Cronos shaking his head in disbelief because I had several drinks in me and I was up on a table at the bar singing along to Madonna's 'Angel'. I knew every word, and he's just looking at me like I was insane, but I fucking love Madonna!"

Holt naturally digs the harder stuff too — but even then he's just as likely to throw on some classic rock, U.K. punk or Eighties funk as he is to crank up some thrash metal.

The guitarist's own musical creations — whether with his long-running thrash outfit Exodus or as part of Slayer's final lineup — are, of course, some of the heaviest shit out there. Holt and Exodus recently announced the 11th full-length entry in their crushing catalog, Persona Non Grata, with the ripping new song "The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)."

As we start the countdown ahead of Persona Non Grata's November 19th release (via Nuclear Blast), we caught up with Holt to discuss some of his favorite non-metal album that he believes Revolver readers would do well to check out. Read the stories behind his picks below.

Prince - Sign o' the Times (1987)

I mean, this list could be all Prince, you know? He's like one of my heroes. But Sign o' the Times is just like his magnum opus; it's his greatest record. Absolute musical perfection! And even better than the studio recordings are the live versions of these songs from that tour — which were unavailable for the longest time, but are included on the big Sign o' the Times reissue that I recently bought, which has everything. My wife actually gave me a purple Prince guitar last year as an anniversary present. I didn't use it on our new record, but if we ever make it back to Minneapolis, that guitar might come out onstage! [Laughs]

Terence Trent D'Arby - Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby (1987)

This is one of the funkiest, baddest albums ever. So killer! I mean, everybody knows "Wishing Well," "Sign Your Name," "Dance Little Sister" and all that stuff, but the whole thing is fucking amazing. There's maybe a little unfulfilled promise to it, too — like, everybody thought he was going to be the next Michael Jackson without the, you know, absurd weirdness. [Laughs] That didn't happen — but it's still fucking awesome.

Haim - Women in Music Pt. III (2020)

The album is so good — it's just fucking brilliant songwriting. I like well-done pop music; always have. Despite playing insane thrash metal, I've always loved that shit, and there are so many great songs on this album. And a good song doesn't have to have guitars — although I'm happy when I see a pop artist putting some guitar solos in their songs, and there's some good guitar stuff on this record.

Robin Trower - Robin Trower Live (1976)

I was a child during the greatest period of hard rock — and I had four older brothers who were all into hard rock, so I kind of had a leg up on getting into stuff like Robin Trower. I could have put Bridge of Sighs or any of Trower's 70s studio albums on this list, but I like these live versions of his songs even better. It's some of the greatest guitar playing ever, and the thickest Strat tone on Earth. One of my favorite live albums.

Ted Nugent - Double Live Gonzo (1978)

While we're on the subject of live albums, I would have to go with Double Live Gonzo. Love him or hate him, he is one of my heroes; he made me pick up a guitar. Ted Nugent and I don't agree on very much at all, but we agree on the beauty of a Gibson Byrdland electric plugged into a wall of Fender Twins. [Laughs] It's a fucking phenomenal live record. People wanna talk shit, or they wanna rage about this shredder or that shredder; but dude, listen to Ted's solo on "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang". I try to play it and my hands are tired halfway through, and he's just shredding — it's just ripping rock guitar playing from start to finish. He's kind of insane now, so it's hard to explain to someone who wasn't there back in the day. But Ted Nugent ruled my high school; he was Number One above all else.

Discharge - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing (1982)

How many albums is that, five? Okay, let's add one more — I've gotta have Discharge on there. One of my older brothers was a super-early punk-rock dude, and he introduced me to all the British hardcore bands of the early 80s, like GBH and U.K. Subs and the Exploited — and none of them inspired me more than Discharge. I mean, I love the Dead Kennedys as much as the next guy, and I love the SoCal punk stuff like Black Flag, but I was always really about the British punk stuff. It was just nasty, gnarly and fast, and it made me want to pick those tempos up a bit, you know? I just wanted to go faster — maybe it was those black beauties we were taking back then! [Laughs]