Exodus - Bonded By Blood

Exodus - Bonded By Blood

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(1985, Torrid/Combat)

You can built your own list regarding the top Thrash albums of all time and it’s possible some frequent visitors shall grab No.1 and will not let go, be it “Kill ‘Em All” or “Reign In Blood” or even “Darkness Descends” or “Extreme Aggressions”, based on your personal feelings or perseverance, Still, there’s not a slight change an album like “Bonded By Blood” will be out of such a list. If it does, you may as well re-consider what Thrash Metal really means to your ears and soul.

EXODUS formed in 1980 in Richmond (located in the East Bay, part of the San Francisco Bay Area) but were unlucky enough to see their debut album being overlapped by fellow bands’ debuts like “Kill ‘Em All” and “Show No Mercy” even if the band itself was possibly the first American Thrash band listed in the Metal chronicles. Now having released a total of 9-10 studio albums and with guitarist Gary Holt being the only original member featured in all LPs, EXODUS will be forever remembered – among other things – for the striking relentless force of their debut album, which paved the way for malice and anger in American Thrash forever after (note that this is a lot different from the low-tuned aggression later seen as some kind of development in post-80s neo-Thrash bands worldwide, current EXODUS style included).

So, what do we have here for a debut album? First of all, there’s a total of nine songs loaded with spite, an urge to fight, tons of adrenaline and some no-turning-back malignance against commercial melody. Indeed, an album like this one stays as an ultimate sample of fighting everything, everyone and in every place and time. There’s no connection to the occult or the evil as portrayed by other influential bands at the time, but “Bonded By Blood” is evil in its own way. Original vocalist Paul Baloff sings his guts out like there’s no tomorrow and his vocals portray a ruthless man, a Bon-Scott thrashin’ duplication who just needs a good reason – or no reason at all – to smash your face to the blink of an eye. Deceased in 2002 (coma stroke), Paul Baloff succeeded in building the basis – with just one album – for what Thrash’s faces would amongst other things be form then on: violence. If you don’t get it, then you possibly assume THE HAUNTED and that ilk brings the extremity in Metal music...

Of course, the music itself couldn’t any better to match such fierce vocals. The guitar attack is sinister and the bass/drums parts march in fear and dominance setting up the spark to some Metal thrashin’ mad party. It’s no wonder EXODUS is credited as the first band to have solo parts traded between axemen in the same bridge while the demolishing grooves of this album set some equal standards in the more-than-just-snare-bass territory. “Bonded By Blood” shows great musicianship from juvenile metallers that grew up improving their technical skills from their very early demo days (let’s remind METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett was an EXODUS originally member, claimed as the founder of this outface in many resource pages) while it fully demonstrates the live feel by the band already noticed by the whole Bay Area scene in the local music scene in the early 80s.

Originally entitled “A Lesson In Violence”, this 1984-recorded debut will always stand tall as a landmark Thrash offering. In the midst of label conflicts and lineup come-and-go’s, the career of EXODUS did not seem to develop as exactly desired in the years to follow (fellow Thrash Metal acts like METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX or TESTAMENT clearly did better in long terms), but “Bonded By Blood” is by any means an album that is irreplaceable. Its energy, velocity and maniacal attitude were never overtaken even if the 1985-1990 years show some mythical Thrash releases conquering the world. And this fact and only speaks for itself.

P.S.: A re-recording of the 1985 debut, entitled “Let There Be Blood”, was released in 2008. Thankfully, Gary Holt himself was fast enough to first say “…we aren’t trying to replace the original; that's impossible anyway”.


Tracklist

01. Bonded By Blood
02. Exodus
03. And Then There Were None
04. A Lesson In Violence
05. Metal Command
06. Piranha
07. No Love
08. Deliver Us To Evil
09. Strike Of The Beast


Lineup

Paul Baloff - Vocals
Gary Holt - Guitars
Rick Hunolt - Guitars
Rob McKillop - Bass
Tom Hunting - Drums