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Bonded by Blood - Feed the Beast - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, August 31st, 2009

Following on from my review of Gama Bomb's "Citizen Brain" last week comes their Earache brothers-in-arms Bonded by Blood, who hail from the rather more recognised Thrash hotspot of LA. To some, Earache appear to have been jumping on the Thrash bandwagon with their signing of these two, as well as Evile, SSS, Violator and Municipal Waste, however I disagree as it's good to see their support for a fledgling scene such as this, as well as possessing the strength give it the push it deserves. Of course however, Earache, like everyone else, cannot be sure if their investments in the 21st Century Thrash kids will be a lasting success or whether the scene will die a death similar to the one that befell the 'first wave' of Thrash which was destroyed in the late 80's, rather ironically, by the emergence of Earache-backed Death Metal bands Entombed, Morbid Angel and Carcass.

Whatever the reason might have been for BBB's signing Earache cannot fail to have been impressed with their youthful exuberance and clear dedication to their art as from the moment "Feed the Beast" blasts out in a fury of galloping Thrash indulgence one gets the impression this is a band determined take the original blueprints and create their own style from it, even if that has yet to be perfected on this their debut album. Thrash has always relied upon the oft-nasally pissed off sounding vocals rather than pure growls and as a point Jose "Aladdin" Barrales sits atop a magical carpet of expression and vigour in his voice, accompanying the music perfectly in a style part Sean Killian (Vio-Lence) and part John Connelly (Nuclear Assault) which surely wouldn't have gone amiss in these two old greats. No doubt anyone with a basic knowledge of Thrash would recognise these boys' chosen band name as a clear allegiance to one of the Thrash originators but there is less Exodus worship going on here than expected as the aggression levels are beyond even them, with Vio-Lence and Overkill bearing most similarity to the speed and sense of rhythm evident in "Tormenting Voices", "Necropsy" and "Self Immolation". In Alex Lee, BBB have also got themselves a mighty fine lead guitarist willing and able to keep control of his solos against a rhythm section rarely allowing the band or even myself the listener a badly needed catch of breath.

It can only be said that the abrasive riffing backed up by a massive wall of solid skin-pounding and bass lines, a speed of vocal delivery I've not heard since Dark Angel's "Leave Scars", and a production rougher round the edges than any of the other new Thrash bands, result in "Feed the Beast" being a massively intense listen and intensely addictive one too. A sense of unique identity can already be detected which will surely be improved upon on future releases as this is the most brutal 'new' Thrash record I've heard yet. Hope for Bonded by Blood? Indeed. Hope for the future of Thrash Metal with records like this? Absolutely!

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net

Have You Ever Fed the Beast? - 77%

Twisted_Psychology, July 15th, 2009

As made blatantly obvious by their choice of band name, Bonded by Blood is another group involved in the New Wave of American Thrash Wave movement that managed to get signed on an influential label and release a full-length debut. Fortunately they make themselves stand out by means of a few hardcore punk influences and a more noticeable sense of fun that is lacking in some of their peers.

Unsurprisingly, the music on here seems to take its biggest cues from bands such as Exodus, Overkill, and Slayer. The guitar riffs rarely go beyond a fast pace, the solos pack in plenty of squeals that will bring to mind classic Slayer, and the drums always do a pretty good job of keeping up. There are also a few mid-tempo moments that emphasize a mosh-worthy groove or a darker atmosphere, but they rarely take over an entire song. Hell, "The Evil Within" may be the slowest song on the album and it manages to stay pretty upbeat...

One thing that really manages to set the band apart from their peers is the voice of Jose "Alladin" Barrales. I suppose you could describe him as some kind of cross between Paul Baloff and Zetro Sousa, but there's a tone in his voice that's somewhat hard to describe but really gives him his own identity. His performance is often energetic without being overtly aggressive and he does sound somewhat goofy at times. Memorable moments include the somewhat pompous verses of "Psychotic Pulse" and the endless spray of lyrics on "Mind Pollution."

Aside from a struggling personal identity, the band's main flaw seems to be imitating their idols a little closely. The slower moments on songs such as "The Evil Within" do come a little close to sounding like something from "South of Heaven" and "Mind Pollution" features a main riff that sounds eerily similar to the chorus riff of GWAR's "Gor-Gor." I'm guessing it's not plaigarism so much as the consequences of a somewhat limited genre...

Being the child of the last 80's/early 90's that I am, I must also say that I found the cover of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song to be rather amusing. It kinda makes me wonder if there are any bands out there that tried covering the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers theme...

Overall, this album is definitely worth checking out for thrash die-hards even if it doesn't reach match up with some of their more successful peers. Unfortunately, everyone else might not be missing too much...

Pros:
1) The music itself is energetic and fun
2) The production is pretty clear and modern

Cons:
1) Slightly unoriginal songwriting approach and cues from other bands
2) The vocals are an acquired taste

My Current Favorites:
"Immortal Life," "Psychotic Pulse," "Mind Pollution," "Another Disease," and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme Song"

One of the better 21st century retro thrash acts - 85%

morbert, April 2nd, 2009

I know, I wasn’t too fond about their first EP because of the inconsistency of the material but boy did this band prove me wrong on their full length debut!

Being associated with Exodus. Something that will probably hunt this band for years to come. Yet it’s their own fault obviously. Why on earth name your band after a well known classic. It’s stupid, it’s lame even. But nevertheless, this album makes me forget their name and earlier ‘Extinguish the Weak’ EP.

To make this even more obvious, I recall finding "The Evil Within" a lesser song on the EP since the slow and mid paced parts were simply not convincing and sounding rather unnatural. Well, it’s either the production of this album or the band has truly found a way during rehearsals and gigs to make these moments sound more fluent and cohesive. Here on “Feed The Beast” this song actually reveals its true potential!

What about the over all sound of their music? Just saying ‘retro thrash’ doesn’t narrow it down enough for me. There are obvious Exodus ideas. But on top of it plenty of inspirations drawn from Forbidden, Vio-Lence, Death Angel, Devastation and thrash-era Sepultura. Is vocalist Jose "Aladdin" Barrales a screamer or an actual vocalist? What he’s doing here makes one think of Steve Souza singing old Overkill songs but with twice the amount of lyrics.

Bonded By Blood cleverly combines the melody and catchiness of ancient Bay Area thrash with the more violent intensity of other newcomers such as Violator, Dekapitator and Magnetron but without succumbing to death-thrash temptations. Yet as said this time the band also manages to make their slower songs (there are only a few) sound energetic.

At times the band is so energetic they almost have crossover in sight but never do cross that border. They’re on the edge. “Self Immolation” rolls over you like Wasted Youth’s “Good Day For A Hanging” but without the hardcore atmosphere. “Civil Servant” is the embodiment of catchy thrash metal. Listen to it twice and you’ll probably never forget the chorus.

Yes, I really like this album. A bunch of young kids? That does not bother an ‘older’ thrasher like me. If it takes this new generation to show Exodus and Testament thrash metal should be energetic, in your face, never pedantic, never pretentious and preferably fast at least half the time on an album, then they’re welcome by me.

This should have been what Exodus just released - 86%

The_Boss, October 1st, 2008

Retro-thrash metal is becoming quite popular nowadays, with loads of bands all over the world taking in the grand style of the legendary 80's bands that created some of the best music ever to be conjured. Bands like Evile playing that semi-progressive, thickly produced thrash metal like ...And Justice For All or Heathen's sophomore album, Fueled by Fire playing a largely old school Bay Area worship, Avenger of Blood sucking Kreator's dick, Municipal Waste trying to be the next Hirax, Merciless Death worshipping the song they stole their name from, Toxic Holocaust bringing in the older style of early thrash metal that later influenced extreme metal, and Violator heralding the vibe of pure thrash back. There are bands in this retro-thrash wave that cover every form and every style of thrash that's ever been done before. So when someone holds a physical copy of Bonded by Blood's debut album, Feed the Beast any true thrasher will automatically jump to conculsions and think of classics like Another Lesson in Violence or Piranha and denim and leather. Any true thrasher's mind will automatically be lead to Exodus's legendary debut album, Bonded by Blood. Any true thrasher will also be happy, because with all these hints to Exodus worship they will want to throw this CD in right away and start headbanging. So now the big question is, is this excellent Exodus worship?

Well the short answer is no. This isn't exactly early Exodus worship, there certainly is Bay Area influence and it's more along the lines of "modernized retro-thrash", if that makes sense. There is a lot of what makes up newer Exodus' sound in here, from albums like Shovel Headed Killing Machine and the most recent Atrocity Exhibition Exhibit A. With Bonded by Blood's debut, you could basically take Exodus' newest album, subtract the groove influences, add more thrash and you will have Extinguish the Weak. The lead guitar work is very similar to Gary Holt's amazing solos and leads and is more of the old school style brought in with the modernized production sound. The drumming is almost a similar style of Tom Hunting's double bass pummelling and intense drum fills as well as the powerful bass thundering in at times when called for. The rhythm guitar work here, as in the heavy and crunchy riffing is a lot like new Exodus as well, but instead of playing washed up and used groove riffs, there are loads of older school Bay Area worship style riffing here, which is in no way original or unique, but it's fresher and and faster. Bonded by Blood's vocalist Jose "Aladdin" Baralles is an excellent thrash vocalist, in fact, I wish most thrash vocalists sounded as awesome as him, instead of a monotonous, boring thrash attack. The unique and high pitched yet nasally vocals of Aladdin here are fucking wicked. I can only imagine this is what Kai Hansen would sound like if he did thrash metal.

The songs on here range from really fucking good, to good listening, to simple filler. The kickass songs are compiled early on with the fast and intense Immortal Life, with the heavy and insane drumming and Psychotic Pulse, the amazing yelled chorus and headbang worthy lead riff that kicks in at about 20 seconds. The "gang" yelled vocals are present here and at times throughout the album, which is something I love in thrash metal, so those who enjoy good backing vocals should check this out as well. Self Immolation has another cool drum solo opening, leading into fast riffing and more great lead work; something that is also a highlight on the album. There are a few songs that justify as filler, that remind me of songs that are simply more of just the same song with main riff then the chorus and blah blah solo/drum solo and end song, but still it's quite an enjoyable listen, even if they count as filler and don't live up to the rest of the good songs on the album.

Bonded by Blood are really not breaking boundaries and really have a knack for creating some decent riffs, heavy drumming and top notch vocals. Their debut is a decent listen, especially for those who enjoy Bay Area type thrash and retro-thrash worship; the only drawback I find that a lot of thrashers might fall back on is the crispy production, like Evile's production on steroids. Well not really, but it's clean and has a modern guitar tone, but still playing some sweet riffing, it might be hard for some to get used to. But still, I highly recommend this to anyone enjoying this wave of retro-thrash, Bonded by Blood have loads of fun on this release and I suggest you checking it out for a good listen. There are some boring songs and yeah there are a few drawbacks, but in the end Feed the Beast is a fun listen. Plus, these guys throw in a funny as hell thrash cover of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song because god dammit, they love pizza.

Edited for factual mistake.

Bonded by Pure 80s Thrash - 95%

darkreif, September 17th, 2008

So it wasn’t enough that a band felt like it was necessary they need to play 80s style Bay Area thrash metal but they felt it necessary to name their band Bonded by Blood. And as much caution as that normally throws into the air for me – I had already had a previous experience with this band with their debut EP, “Extinguish the Weak” and I knew that the band lived up to their name. But having a great EP doesn’t mean a debut album can live up to the hype.

Luckily, with Bonded by Blood their debut album, “Feed the Beast” is an exercise in great old school thrash. From start to finish these young Californians harness the awesome energy of thrash metal into a solid 42 minutes of fun. In fact, its because this album feels so fun and energetic that Bonded by Blood are able to sell their style so well when they seem to be one of a hundred bands that are playing old school thrash metal right now.

It helps that the performances are pretty damn impressive too considering how young these guys are. The depth of the music is enough that every time I listen to it I hear a new little lead in the layers or another very subtle drum fill. Fast, technical, and over the top all describe every performance on this album. Tons of group chants, loads of solos, and monster rhythms all make “Feed the Beast” something worth listening too.

Match the awesome performances and beastly song writing with a very good thrash metal production and it just seems like things couldn’t go wrong at all. And even though I love this debut album there is some things one should know going into this album. The vocalist, Jose "Aladdin" Barrales, does have a very punky sound to his vocals (more along the lines of Crossover giants Municipal Waste) and that seems to turn off a lot of listeners. I find it fun and catchy but it’s just a forewarning. Also almost all the songs from their EP are also on this album, and I really wanted to hear some more new stuff from Bonded by Blood, but the new recordings are also very awesome.

This is a great debut album from these young thrashers and any fan of Bay Area thrash is going to love this fun and energetic release. Although I could have done with a few less songs that were repeated from their first EP but this is just one great release that makes the Thrash Revival Movement worth following.

Songs to check out: “Immortal Life”, “Civil Servant”, “Vengeance”.

Originally written for http://www.metal-observer.com

Immediate Thrash Satisfaction - 70%

Shirt_Guy, July 23rd, 2008

A throwback 80’s thrash band named after the most famous Exodus album? The band name could be worn well, as Bonded By Blood is one of the better examples of bands in the genre.

You probably know the drill by now for retro thrash although there are some slight variations. Here are a few things to expect -
- Galloping pedal and quick moving power chords for the mid-paced./quick songs, with more Slayer like tremolo picking for the pre-death metal style fast songs.
- Shred-em-up guitar solos accented with sharp whammy dives.
- Yelled vocals and gang chants to go right along with Suicidal Tendencies.

Bonded By Blood add mostly a slight technical flare with a few guitar runs between those quick simple riffs, coupled with slick production and a tight attack which is tweaked just right to prevent them from sounding like inhuman robots. These same production levels allow the band to come out and pour off that good-time vibe that goes when a young bunch that drink a lot on tour and talk about horror movie shlock in their spare time. That Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song goes right along with that same vibe, and takes you right back to ‘87.

As far as executing retro 80’s goes, “Feed the Beast” is perfect, and for the summer of ‘08, it provides immediate satisfaction. The future however might not be so kind…

Originally posted at www.waytooloud.com

Brilliant. - 87%

duncang, June 10th, 2008

Thrash metal is not a sound that will be new to most people. The world is filled with fans of '80s heavyweights such as Slayer, Exodus and Metallica, but since its heyday, thrash has been a dying breed. However, in recent years more and more bands have been popping up around the world laying down ass kicking thrash in the vein of their '80s heroes. Bonded By Blood are just one of them. Aside from the clear Exodus tribute in their name, what’s so special about these guys?

You don’t need to be special to thrash like a madman.

Bonded By Blood hail from Los Angeles, USA and like some of their fellow California residents, they play no-nonsense thrash metal, clearly in worship of those icons we should all be familiar with. The order of the day is, of course, fast paced riffs with drumming to match, excessive soloing and the frantic rambling of a madman on vocals. The vocals are very much in the ‘Peace Sells’ frame of mind, and much like Mustaine the voice of Jose "Aladdin" Barrales is a love-or-hate affair. If you love it, then the thick accent and very ‘hyuk’ inflection will simply raise the intensity that much more, but if you hate it I imagine it will annoy you to no end. I, thankfully, fit the former criteria but even if you hate Bonded By Blood’s vocals, there’s plenty more to enjoy.

The guitar work on ‘Feed The Beast’ is impressive, with guitar duo Alex Lee and Juan Juarez assembling several billion riffs and recording them all in the space of 40 minutes. The riff style has obviously been done before, but it’s not broken and we should all be glad that these guys aren’t trying to fix it. One thing which does stand out about these riffs though is the fact that they don’t rely on thrashing out on that low E string as much as quite a lot of these Earache-led ‘new wave of thrash metal’ bands do. In that way ‘Feed The Beast’ seems more like a crossover record, but I think the lead guitar work leaves that significant punk influence just short of making it a true crossover album. The leads on this album are fantastic, with solos that are blindingly fast and yet retain some quality melodic value. There are still those chromatic runs and solos that seem to be mostly comprised of the whammy bar for the Kerry King fans out there but even if Slayer-esque madness isn’t your thing, these solos are still very enjoyable parts of the songs.

The balance of instruments on this mix is near perfect for a modern thrash sound; there’s a fantastic bass presence supporting biting guitars and pounding drums. The one problem I find with the sound is with the snare which, while as tight as a thrash metal snare probably should be, just cuts through a little too much. This is no real complaint though, as the drums are performed to a high standard. In fact, most things about this album attain this standard with relative ease.

The lyrics are your standard fare gritty thrash affair, and while there’s no poetic genius going on here, you’d certainly be listening to the wrong genre if that’s what you’re expecting from this album. The one thing that does matter is the application of those very punk-tinged chants that will whip up a fury with a live crowd, which Bonded By Blood really exceed at. The subject matter involves monsters, insanity and... civil servants, apparently. The aforementioned civil service aside, the lyrics are cliche, yet serve their purpose excellently. With song titles like ‘Self Immolation’, ‘Mind Pollution’ and ‘Psychotic Pulse’, these are lyrics that can be nonsensical and brainless as they like, because they are in the end f--king metal.

Thrash has been done. Hell, it’s been done by bands that formed after 2000 and even they got in there faster than Bonded By Blood, but really time is irrelevant, as ‘Feed The Beast’ is a good thrash metal album, played like it’s 1986 but recorded as it should be in 2008. Of course, it’s been 20 years since the golden age of thrash, and if that period was all you ever needed then you’re not going to be missing much by not listening to this band or indeed any other band that’s part of this ‘thrash revival’ that label executives across the world have been salivating over. However, ‘Feed The Beast’ is still a good thrash album. It’s got quality riffs (‘Mind Pollution’), it’s got style (‘Immortal Life’) but most importantly of all, it closes with a crossover thrash cover of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme. Cowabunga, dude.

Originally written for www.ultimate-guitar.com review team.