David Ellefson reveals the two thrash bands he thinks would make up the 'Big Six'

David Ellefson of Megadeath performs at Motorpoint Arena on January 30, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales
(Image credit: Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns)

David Ellefson has named the artists he thinks would make up thrash metal's 'Big Six', if the iconic 'Big Four' was to be expanded.

The 'Big Four' is of course the moniker used for the quartet of bands, Metallica Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth, who have been championed as kingpins of the scene.

In conversation with Yes! You CAN Play Guitar!, ex-Megadeth bassist Ellefson was asked what band he'd select for a hypothetical fifth spot within the circle of thrash elite.

"Well, I think if you opened that gate at all, it'd have to be 'Big 6', because you'd let in Exodus and then you'd probably let in Overkill" he explains (transcription via Blabbermouth).

"'Cause you'd have to get a West Coast [band] and an East Coast [act], 'cause I think it starts to go like that."

Referring back to the original question, he answers: "If there was a 'Big 5', it would be Exodus, for sure, because, look, from them came [Metallica guitarist] Kirk Hammett.

"They were staples of the scene up there. I remember [Slayer guitarist] Kerry King telling me, '[Exodus drummer] Tom Hunting's the shit, man. Tom Hunting's the guy."

Speaking of when Kerry King played guitar as part of Megadeth in 1984, he continues: "It's my opinion that after Kerry played with us, he met the Exodus guys, he saw Exodus play, he learned how Tom Hunting played, he went home and made [Slayer drummer] Dave Lombardo play like Tom Hunting. [Laughs] That's why Slayer got so fast.

"Those five shows Kerry did with us that brought us to the Bay Area opened his eyes to, like, 'Wow. This is how it's done.' And then he went back to L.A. and he carried on away from Megadeth and he carried on with Slayer.

"But he whipped Slayer into shape, 'cause he had seen… 'Thine eyes had seen the glory' of what thrash metal really was from the Bay Area, and that helped Slayer become Slayer."

In October, Ellefson will be taking his supergroup, Kings Of Thrash, to the stage, performing a small run of shows across the US alongside two other former Megadeth members, Jeff Young and Chris Poland. During the run, the band will be playing two classic Megadeth albums in full, 1985's Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! and 1988's So Far, So Good... So What!.

Listen to the full interview below:

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.