San Francicsco Bay Area thrashers EXODUS are tentatively scheduled to enter the studio this fall to begin recording the follow-up to 2014’s “Blood In Blood Out” album for an early 2018 release.

“Blood In Blood Out” was EXODUS‘s first album since the departure of the band’s lead singer of nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of his predecessor, Steve “Zetro” Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.

EXODUS‘s main songwriter Gary Holt has been the touring guitarist for SLAYER since January 2011 when that band’s co-founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, from a spider bite in his backyard. Hanneman eventually died in May 2013 from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver.

Speaking to Metal Wani about what fans can expect from the next EXODUS album, Souza said (hear audio below): “You’ve gotta remember: Who do we have at the helm writing the songs? You’ve gotta stop and think there’s a reason why he plays in EXODUS and SLAYER. There’s a reason why that happens. Gary Holt is not gonna put any subpar shit out there, and he never has, so why would we start now?”

He continued: “Actually, I’ve already heard rough stuff that’s come up, because we’re probably scheduled to be in the studio in late October, [early] November for a March [release]. I think that’s what it looks like on the eraser board, but then that could always change again with the things going on. But the ship is pretty steady at we’ll be ready to record by October or November.

“We played two hundred and eighty-eight shows on ‘Blood In Blood Out’, so we know it’s time to put out a new record, which is our focus right now; that’s basically what has been the band focus over the past few months. One of us got married last month — Tom [Hunting], our drummer, got married — and then Gary had been home working off SLAYER since mid-October. I think he’s in South America with SLAYER right now, and he’s writing stuff.”

Asked if it has been difficult working around SLAYER‘s schedule while trying to come up with an album’s worth of new songs, Souza said: “This is the first time [we’ve had to deal with that while composing] new material. [For] tours, we have his stunt double, Kragen Lum. He was handpicked by Gary, by the way, and he plays [Gary‘s] parts, I mean, maybe better than Gary plays his own parts. Kragen is pretty spot-on. You close your eyes, he plays the leads on the records note for note, so it sounds like EXODUS. And his rhythm hand is just… Him and Lee [Altus, EXODUS guitarist], they actually play in HEATHEN together, but I don’t think they’ve done HEATHEN since 2010, ’cause Lee has been so busy with EXODUS. But he’s a very good complement if Gary can’t be there. But I think Gary‘s gonna be on the IRON MAIDEN show [in early July in San Bernardino, California], and they’re talking about doing a tour in September and October, and Gary will be on that with us as well.”

Souza went on to say that he harbors no ill feelings toward SLAYER for keeping Holt away from EXODUS so much of the time.

“It seemed like our album cycles ran simultaneously,” the singer explained. “We put out a record in October of 2014 and then they put out a record [‘Repentless’] in September of 2015 — only nine months later.

“I love the fact that [Gary] is carrying that band on with Jeff‘s blessing, of course, ’cause Jeff had picked him as well. I’m a huge SLAYER fan, I always have been, and I’m just very proud of him and I’m glad that he can carry the torch so that they can continue.”

EXODUS last fall completed the colossal “Battle Of The Bays” European tour alongside famed Florida death metal squad OBITUARY. Support came from influential groove crossover metallers PRONG and Australian wrecking machine KING PARROT.