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The Exodus Attack - 45%

Juno_A, January 13th, 2021

For years, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the fervor behind this album. Bonded By Blood represents one of heavy metal’s most iconic records, a thrash classic beloved by many, and for the life of me, I cannot fathom why. Is it because thrash metal only had a handful of releases when this album dropped, thereby augmenting its status in heavy metal history by virtue of being one of the first thrash metal releases? Do fans consider the instrumentation on this album superior to many other bands at the time? Were there plenty of critics at the time praising it, inadvertently molding popular opinion in its favor? Granted, the album isn’t without merit, but judging by its highly revered nature amongst metalheads, I genuinely thought this album would match the quality, intensity, and complexity of Judas Priest’s Painkiller or even Megadeth’s Rust In Peace.

To begin, my biggest grievance with Bonded By Blood lies with its unremarkable nature. That’s right, I said it: This album sounds mundane to me thanks to a few elements. First, the melodies have little range – the riffing almost never leaves its mid-pitched station, creating a bunch of songs that sound similar even when listening closely. Second, average riff complexity also suffers due to many mid-tempo shifts in speed, and because Exodus doesn’t possess the melodic talent to differentiate the riffs better, the slower sections feel lazy compared to the faster parts. Third, even the faster riffs fail to raise my excitement because they sound lazy, too – Why does the opening riff to the title track have a short, but noticeable chunk dedicated to playing one note in between the other melodies? Like, that one note stands out so much because the melodies surrounding that note reach a complexity the rest of the riff doesn’t attain, and this problem appears many times on the album. I’m reminded of Metallica’s opener to Kill ‘Em All, “Hit the Lights,” where the riff structure and song composition resemble Exodus’ attempts on Bonded By Blood, except Metallica have more melodic range than Exodus, making for a more fun and interesting song in “Hit the Lights.”

Another issue I have with this album lies with its status as sacred cow. This is probably an unfair criterion with which to judge this album, but I’d be lying if I said my expectations didn’t play a major role in my reception to Bonded By Blood. Going into this album, I had expected thrash metal so technical, melodic, and substantial, I assumed I would renounce The Big Four in favor of Exodus. Instead, I received a bunch of music that all blends together in one humdrum package – I’ve heard brutal death metal and ambient stuff with more sonic variety than this album. I would chalk this up to a millennial failing to comprehend a past innovation, except just about every other major thrash band in the early 1980’s exhibited a unique quality throughout their debut releases: Metallica’s strength in Kill ‘Em All lies with interesting songwriting, Megadeth’s Killing Is My Business… contained technical ferocity, Show No Mercy from Slayer probably exhibited more melody than the rest of their career while still maintaining an aggressive sound, and Overkill’s Feel The Fire assumes a solid form meshing most of these elements together in one cohesive package. Bonded By Blood has little of anything for me. I don’t know if this counts as sacrilege, but I consider Feel The Fire superior to Bonded By Blood by having more melodic range and dynamic songwriting – at least Overkill doesn’t give me the impression they’re regularly dumbing down their abilities just to play easier riffs.

Tired yet of the pretense and cynicism of this review? You are? Sorry, I have some more criticisms, anyway: I’m not a fan of the soft acoustic guitar introducing “No Love” because it suggests a song with more melody and substance will follow, not to mention how the title doesn’t match the lyrics at all, even from a poetic standpoint. Speaking of lyrics, I understand I wasn’t a poetic master earlier in my life, but none of the lyrics seem inventive for a group of men in their 20’s (“Exodus” strikes me as especially sloppy with its lyrics because of its immature atmosphere regarding both content and construction). The final two notes of “Metal Command” do not match the melody that came before those notes, making for a incongruous and bizarre-sounding song finale. This next complaint could be my specific pressing of the CD I have, but “Strike of the Beast” cuts off a half-second after the final note, so it sounds as if the engineer sliced off the rest of the song to finish this album for release ASAP. No, seriously, my CD pressing of this album had the same issue as Metallica’s closer to … And Justice For All, “Dyers’ Eve,” where the album ends immediately after the final note, except Exodus’ own closing track ends even sooner, it feels like. I secretly hope my CD pressing is responsible for this issue, because the notion of someone sleeping on their job – or God forbid, approving this decision – seems unprofessional and/or woefully misguided to me.

Even the positive aspects of this album come accompanied with more elements that detract from my listening experience. For example, while I commend the technicality on display for most of the album, the music feels insubstantial somehow, as if the completed product doesn’t match the sum of its thrashing parts – I blame this on the lackluster melodies and compositions when compared to other major metal acts at the time. As a result of the underwhelming instrumentation, Paul Baloff stands out as the most effective member of the band on here thanks to his legendarily excitable performance, but as mentioned before, even I can’t ignore the poetic weakness of the lyrics. The riff arriving nearly 3 minutes into “And Then There Were None” has cemented a place in my long-term memory as the most enjoyable part of the album, but it has little edge typical of thrash metal and its pace means the album’s best part is non-representative of the end product. Finally – who approved that cover? I don’t mean the red-background cover my pressing came with, I mean the two-baby cover – I understand the concept, I guess, but I feel like this idea could have been conveyed more artistically, even for a debut record.

Even after all this, I have to give this album some credit for its technicality and production value: The instrumentation on Bonded By Blood comes across clear and showcases some decent talent, especially the guitar solos, percussion, and vocals. It’s just a shame that all the pieces don’t connect into a cohesive whole for me, as the musical elements on this album have been done better by other bands. Don’t get me wrong, the album is far from a disaster, but the best description I can give to Bonded By Blood is okay. This album is okay, if only because I’ve heard this kind of stuff done before and better – this album may have the benefit of releasing during the prime era for metal domination, but I can’t deny this album turned me off of Exodus. With music becoming more accessible, I may yet check out the rest of their discography someday, but for now, I’m gonna chalk this up as another album I just don’t get. You may like it, as many others did, but I sure didn’t.

A Thrash Essential - 85%

DanielG06, August 31st, 2020
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Century Media Records (Reissue, Remastered, Repress)

Where to start with this cornerstone of thrash. First of all, this album has went down in history as one of the most legendary albums in heavy metal history. Now, looking back on it 35 years after its release, it's clear to see why. Honestly, for its time, this record showcased the raw, pure intensity that thrash metal had to offer, and Exodus were the leaders of thrash at this time. While later on in the 80', bands such as Metallica and Slayer would take the throne as the thrash kings, Exodus was certainly top dog in the early-mid 80's. Often renowned as the first and most respected band in the Bay Area, Exodus were a forced to be reckoned with, as was proven in their live shows and studio material alike.

The production on this album is gritty and raw. The vocals have a ton of reverb and are kind of poorly mixed, but Paul Baloff more than makes up for it with his sheer energy whilst performing. You can certainly tell on tracks such as "and then there were none" that he really puts his heart and soul into it. The guitars are very stripped down in terms of tone, they do sound thin, but once again, the performance from Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt more than makes up for it. The bass is also very notable, as it presents itself as the backbone of the album's production, it is especially prominent on tracks like "Exodus" and "No Love". Rob Mckillop certainly knew how to cause havoc with his chunky basslines that give the songs some oomph. Tom Hunting's drum performance here is also some of his best work; I find it impressive that a band based in such a poor area, with such little potential and primitive materia can learn and make good music with tight precision, but that can be said for the entire 80's thrash scene, the guys were just mental.

The title track on this album is iconic, an example of the impressive songwriting that Exodus can boast, it is a short, but strong song overall, the solos are great, the main riff is catchy as all hell, and the thunderous drum beat makes you headbang like a mad man. Now, with that being said, this is sustained throughout the whole album, which I think is certainly respectable, as it gave Exodus a definitive sound right from the word "go". Most songs follow this formula of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-outro, but it works damn well, and the chemistry on this record is on-point, all of the guys are playing their hearts out and you can tell that they put effort into these songs.

The lyrics are fun and contain typical thrash subject matter, but they are very samey, as most of the songs have the same "kill you, murder you, beat you up, end of the world blah blah blah," and it does get on your nerves after a while, which is the only real con with this album. Although to be fair, it really does fit Baloff's style of singing, along with the pure evil riffs of songs like "Piranha" and "Strike of the Beast" which are iconic riffs of the entire Metal genre, and the perfect recipe for a good old no-karate pit, complete with empty beer bottles and sweat-sodden battle jackets. But, enough with the silly metaphors, the riffs in these songs are honestly great, and yet another reason to give this record a spin.

Another of the many impressive things about this album is the technicality. For instance, in the chorus of "And Then There Were None" have Baloff harmonising vocal notes with Gary Holt's guitar riff. This is the done in the second part of the chorus where the notes are dropped by a few octaves. They even pull this off perfectly live, so that gives the song some seasoning and in my opinion, really ups its musical value. There is also an acoustic intro in "No Love" which is a nice contrast to the rest of the song, as it instantly transitions from soft, legato arpeggios into an evil staccato riff, and one of the best riffs on the album at that.I think these little technical and well thought-out parts to the songs really shows the listener that Exodus do care about their songwriting and want to get creative in order to further boost the quality of the songs.

To conclude, Bonded By Blood has its drawbacks, but that doesn't make it any less of an essential classic. Come on, why are you still reading this review? Buy it already!


ThrashFanatic, January 23rd, 2018
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Century Media Records (Reissue, Remastered, Repress)

So Exodus was formed in 1979 by then 16 year old Kirk Hammett. The group released a few demos, before being signed to Torrid Records. The and recorded Bonded By Blood in the summer of 1984. Due to a dispute with the record label over the artwork however, the album was held back from release. The album didn't release until April 25th, 1985. Now that the history is out of the way, let's get down to the musical content...

The thrash classic title track opens the record. Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt's violent riffs are fucking insane! The riffs are fast and most of all, it's THRASH! Rob McKillop is a good bass player but he's hard to hear due to the less than perfect production. Tom Hunting is a monster on drums, his performance is right up there along with Gene Hoglan's performance on Darkness Descends and Nick Menza's on Rust In Peace. He is a master drummer! Now the moment you've all waited for, the star of the show PAUL BALOFF!!! Baloff is the best thrash vocalist ever! His unhinged performance is unforgettable. He is constantly barking the lyrics out with sheer force, he is an absolute fucking legend!

"No Love" is one of the highlights, the acoustic intro is fantastic. Gary Holt shows just how creative and talented he is. The main riff is one of the best, and Baloff is amazing as usual. Another highlight is "Piranha" with it's violent main riff which will make you want to mosh violently and uncontrollably! The solos are downright INSANE!!! This is just the start however...

"Deliver Us To Evil" is the album's epic, clocking in at 7 minutes! This song is more mid paced but the riffs here are mindblowing! Baloff's vocal performance on this track is amazing, especially when he barks out these lines...

"Incubus in the sky, pentagram held high
Hell's filth hounds begin to bark, the bells begin to tone
Virgin lies in blood, the blood was once her own
The redness and the horror of blood, swept across the land I stood!"

I highly recommend this album to those who may only have heard of only the Big Four. Unfortunately, Exodus never topped this album, after Baloff left and eventually passed in 2002, Exodus wasn't and isn't the same. Zetro doesn't hold a candle to Baloff. This is THE Exodus album, Bonded By Blood is a thrash masterpiece!

R.I.P. Paul Baloff (Apr 25th, 1960 - FOREVER!)

Highlights: "Bonded By Blood", "No Love", "Piranha", and "Deliver Us To Evil"


TrooperEd, September 17th, 2017

Released 6 months before Spreading The Disease, 5 months before Hell Awaits and 2 months before Killing Is My Business, Exodus put out a ransom note to the metal world, “Get in our way, and we’re going to TAKE YOUR LIFE!” Yea folks, there’s a reason metal remembers the coming out of thrash and not the efforts of Bon Jovi, Dokken and Twisted Sister in 1985. These poser assassinations kept the masses in fucking line. Unfortunately that more or less changed in the years afterwords as like most second tier bands, they just couldn’t come up with two masterpieces in a row.

It is solely because of Paul Balloff that I came to respect so-called "harsh" vocals in metal. Balloff’s vocals aren’t guttural, screechy, or even barky (certainly not in the modern Hatebreed style of today), but they are destruction manifested in a single agent. But despite Balloff being a larger than life giant in metal, both musically and otherwise, no one is bigger than the group. Part of what most modern metal bands fail to understand (both proper singer and otherwise) is that the vocals are not the center stage of the band. It should be a friendly competitive tension between vocals and distinctive heavy riffs. It doesn’t matter if your vocalist is a guttural extremer roaring his pain or a master soprano displaying skill hitting a difficult note, if you’re just strumming on a ho-hum chord in the background, your band sucks. And that’s where metal’s most underrated guitar duo, the H-team comes in. Yes folks, Hunolt and Holt, not Hammett and Hetfield, are the H-team. Anyone who says otherwise is to be stabbed in front of their loved ones.

This album is beginning to end thrash. Like a slightly more angry, more violent Kill Em All. I'd imagine this was how most of the supposed "purists" Lars Ulrich always whines about (Anybody else starting to think he's making that up and the actual reaction to Fade To Black was more indifference) wanted Ride The Lightning to be. Well, maybe except with Fight Fire With Fire tacked on. What's strange is, as fast and thrashy and violent as this album is, nothing on this album quite reaches that speed. When I hear "if only this album had come out in 84 like it was supposed to Ride The Lightning wouldn't have gotten all the credit," I don't quite believe it because that song in particular is what makes speed-thrash speed-thrash.

The only moment on Bonded By Blood that's out of place is the little acoustic intro ( not even this album could escape it) at the beginning of No Love. Granted if you listen to MP3's like I do it's nothing iTunes can't edit out but seriously, why was that even there? It's one thing if you can make those little moments organic and grow into a natural song like Merciless Death, Good Mourning/Black Friday and even Fade To Black. But its like why even have stuff like that just for nothing? They can't even use the "start the vinyl side off smoothly" argument considering side B of this album starts out with the pounding drums of Piranha.

Regardless, if it's a flaw, it's a minuscule "gun to your head- pick out a problem" complaint than anything serious. A one point penalty at the most. Bonded By Blood is the most essential post big four thrash album to own. I would actually place this much higher than a hefty amount of that prestigious group's catalog. Crank up the stereo and batten down the hatches. On second thought, fuck the hatches. Hatches are for wimps and posers.

Recommended Songs:
Strike of The Beast
Deliver Us To Evil

This is as good as it gets - 100%

ExodusAttack666, December 4th, 2016

If you don't like this album, Paul Baloff is gonna come into your house and kick your face and rape and murder your wife. This is the best album in all of fucking music.

The best part of this album is Paul fucking Baloff. Paul Baloff had a fucking aggressive voice, and he was such a fun frontman live. Paul Baloff's homicidal shrieks make the album a hell of a lot more aggressive. On every song Paul Baloff fucking shrieks his heart out, like he's ripping apart some poser's corpse! Nobody was ever as energetic as Baloff on Bonded by Blood. Paul Baloff had the most intense fucking voice on this album, shredding anything into smithereens in songs like "Piranha" and "Deliver Us to Evil". The riffs on this album kick multiple levels of ass, like in "A Lesson in Violence" and "Piranha". Gary Holt is the master of riffing, even beating out Slayer with their hellish second full length Hell Awaits. Holt and Hunolt's solos are absolutely chaotic, with legendary solo after legendary solo at the end of many songs including "And Then There Were None" and "A Lesson in Violence". The drumming of Tom fucking Hunting defined brutality up to that point, with Dave Lombardo's drumming on Hell Awaits.

Every song is a highlight reel of thrash metal. The best tracks on here are the hellish fast ones like "A Lesson in Violence", "Exodus", and "Strike of the Beast". Strike of the Beast is the ultimate mosher with brutal fucking drumming, chaotic solos, and homicidal riffs which kicks 666 levels of ass. The violent middle section disembowels your skin and disintegrates your fucking skull. "A Lesson in Violence" is fucking brutal as hell, and annihilates all in its path. It starts with a brutal main riff that makes you wanna fucking beat up the next person you see. The brutal drumming on this song proves that Tom Hunting beats the living shit out of Igor Cavalera. Paul Baloff screams like a fucking maniac in this song and the solos are chaotic. "Exodus" is a fucking beast, shooting everything that walks with a fucking machine gun and leaving in a pool of blood. Paul Baloff's shriek at the end is fucking legendary. The riffs are insane, the lyrics are fucking brutal, and the dynamic solos by Holt and Hunolt basically shit on anything before or after this. There's no stopping the Exodus Attack! Other amazing tracks include the mid tempo crusher "No Love", which starts with a classical acoustic bit, before going into a kickass riff written by the master Gary Holt, the hellish shrieks by Paul Baloff, and technical drumming. The demonic solos when the tempo speeds up are extreme doses of pure pissed off fucking energy! "Piranha" has 3000 crushing riffs that fucking grind everything to the fucking bone, along with the uncontrollable screaming of Paul Baloff, and some chaotic soloing at the end. And of course nobody could ever forget the classic title track, with its legendary riffs and homicidal solos.

Murder in the front row, crowd begins to bang, and there's blood upon the stage, bang your head against the stage, and metal takes its price! Bonded by Blood!

VIOLENT! - 97%

BlackMetal213, September 6th, 2016

It's no secret that Exodus is a legendary band within the thrash metal genre. "Bonded by Blood" was the band's debut full-length, released in 1985. Unfortunately, it was supposed to be released in 1984. Due to issues with the band's record label at the time, the release was delayed by almost a year. This album still is highly influential and one of the most important albums to come out of the Bay Area thrash scene but it could have been so much more if it was released when it should have been, and due to this, Exodus was even more overshadowed by some of the bigger names in the game, most notably Metallica. Even so, "Bonded by Blood" proves to be just as important as "Kill 'Em All", and maybe even "Ride the Lightning".

This album relies mainly on speed, intensity, and aggression to get the point across. The guitar riffs are razor sharp and some of the most aggressive to come out of 1980s thrash. Melody is surely existent, such as with the acoustic intro to "No Love" and the melodic yet aggressive riffing in songs such as "Strike of the Beast" and "And Then There Were None", which is insanely catchy. This album really shines when things are fast and furious. The title track serves as the album's opener and proves to be one of the band's most memorable songs. The main riff is solid and the trade-off soloing from Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt became a staple for Exodus, as well as a huge inspiration for thrash metal bands that would come after the band, as well as a great deal of death metal bands. There is a lot of this through the album's 40-minute duration, but this track, and especially "Deliver Us to Evil", milk the heck out of this. This album is definitely a riff-fest.

Paul Baloff's vocals give the word "unique" an entirely new meaning. He uses a style that takes obvious influence from punk and his shrieks are almost bone-chilling at times. I wouldn't say he's the best vocalist to come out of the thrash genre but he's surely up there in the list. "A Lesson in Violence" and the previously discussed title track showcase his shrieks of madness the best in my opinion. I'm aware that vocals are technically an instrument but here, they are even more highlighted as one. Without this man's pure hatred in vocal form, "Bonded by Blood" would probably not be nearly as maniacal an album.

The album's only real disappointing feature is the bass. Unfortunately, it's not loud enough. It's not that the playing is sub-par, because when you can actually hear it, it sounds pretty damn sick. It's just too quiet. It wouldn't bother me so much if it was totally inaudible. There are times you can hear it louder and clearer, but this just teases. It offers a taste of what should be more. The drums are fairly standard and I guess simple but I'm no drummer. So, in this case, I'm not too good a judge of character. The punk influence in the drumming, like the vocals, is fairly standard and lives up to the thrash sound. That seems to be the overall goal here. It fits the sound, and that's perfect!

Overall, aside from the slight issue I have with bass volume, this album is top notch thrash. Exodus has produced many great albums but this was their first and also their best. Bang you head as if up from the dead, intense metal is all that you need!

The glory of 1985 - 100%

Felix 1666, April 3rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 1985, 12" vinyl, Music for Nations

Some years ago, the editors of the German magazine Rock Hard published their ranking of the best thrash metal albums of all times. Of course, these rankings are always dubious. But be that as it may, the winner was "Bonded by Blood". (Second place went - surprise, surprise - to "Reign in Blood".) With regard to this selection, there is not much that can go wrong. No doubt that the debut of Exodus is definitely at least one of the best thrash records in the history of the phenomenal genre. It will remain a reference work for every musician who wants to create thrash compositions which are free from external influences. Even 30 years after its release, "Bonded by Blood" offers an unconsumed aura of ferocity and malignancy. This aura is inter alia based on the performance of a man who left the band much too soon. I do not want to use superlatives in an inflationary way. But from my point of view, Paul Baloff - rest in peace - had the most malicious voice of all thrash vocalists. He expressed all that is evil. It seemed as if he was constantly in danger of losing his self-control. But in reality, he followed a clear line, at least on the here presented work. "Bonded by Blood" features the vocals of a man who remains concentrated and his emphasis of the single lines matches perfectly with the atmosphere of each and every sonic frontal assault. Commuting between a cynical approach and sheer aggression, his singing ennobles the superb riffs of the "H-Team", the guitarists Hunolt and Holt. Additionally, the rarely occuring pinpoint background vocals further increase the dynamic of the tunes.

Speaking of the riffs: they sound sharp, rapid and harsh. At the same time, and this is the crucial factor, they were innovative, groundbreaking and irresistible. Back in 1985, the same applied to the whole thrashing genre and I guess this is the decisive reason why all these glorious albums of the mid-eighties will never lose their status. Never ever! They document the omnipresent pioneering spirit of this time. It inspired talented bands like Exodus, Slayer and Possessed - to name only some of the most important - in a very significant manner. But this spirit cannot be preserved for a long time. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the stimulating effect of "Bonded by Blood" is rarely matched. In my opinion, its nine tracks form the best thrash debut of all times and the album belongs to the most energizing records of the genre. And this energy is evoked by the riffs - and so the cycle closes.

By taking into consideration the compactness of every single song, the whole album has the sustainable effect of a well-considered slap in the face. "Exodus" (the track) marks the prime example in terms of directness and aggression. Its brutal lyrics are completely stupid; nevertheless, they cannot affect the joy of listening to this straightforward torpedo. Despite its raging violence, it shines with the right amount of catchiness, not only because of its conservative verse-chorus-verse pattern. But "Exodus" is just the king of kings. The similarly configured tracks, for example "Piranha" or the final crusher "Strike of the Beast", as well as the more interlaced songs such as "Deliver Us to Evil", can compete with the perfect band anthem. But also the maliciously creeping "No Love", which speeds up during the homicidal solos, hits the bull´s eye. Despite these slightly differentiated song structures, "Bonded by Blood" possesses a very good flow. Furthermore, it fascinates with its homogeneity. But it goes without saying that the homogeneous overall impression constitutes only one of the many advantages of this milestone. In particular due to the excellent sound of the guitars, the perfect production is no less important. Finally, the great number of divine moments - for instance, listen to the fast-paced chorus of "Deliver Us to Evil" which contrasts with the other parts of the song in an outstanding manner - puts the album in a class of its own. During the last three decades, its liveliness has not faded. Due to this situation, it does not matter that the lyrical content is either naive ("fists are in the air, banging everywhere") or sick ("we rape and murder your wife").

Well, from my point of view, the comparatively lame "Master of Puppets" does not fall under the thrash category. But some might say that Metallica´s first two full-lengths are the most important thrash albums of all times. I disagree. Quite apart from my personal favorite "Hell Awaits", I think that the blood brothers "Bonded By Blood" and "Reign in Blood" had the greatest influence on the worldwide scene. While Slayer´s third full-length glitters with sheer aggression, the neckbreaking debut of Exodus kills with style. To sum up, its weapons are the cruel yet memorable melodies which are formed by the sensational riffs, the howling guitars (especially during the fantastic solos), the nifty tempo variations and, of course, Baloff´s performance. It is therefore a matter of personal taste which one you prefer. I am undecided.

Murder in the front row! - 99%

Brainded Binky, December 8th, 2014

The Big 4 this, the Big 4 that, we've heard it all before. Some of us have also heard of the significance of one of the first Bay Area thrash metal bands, Exodus, which originally had Kirk Hammett as their lead guitar player. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be with the band long enough for him to be a part of their smashing debut, "Bonded by Blood", one of the finest thrash metal albums ever created that also set the standards for many thrash albums to come in the following decades.

Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt are very talented guitarists, but rather than create a complex musical masterpiece worthy of making the band the next Iron Maiden, they decided to cut some corners in order to make the songs more aggressive. That's just fine by me, 'cos when it comes to thrash metal, the more aggressive, the better. Much of their riffs are somewhat simple, consisting of chugging e-note rhythms and a few basic power chords. Those were all the band needed to put more of an intimidating and powerful sound. It is proof that you don't really need to be that intricate in order to please a crowd, sometimes a simple riff could be all that would be necessary to get a circle pit going. Unfortunately, this simple formula would be ripped of by band after band, wannabe after wannabe, in the years that followed, particularly in the 21st century, when retro-thrash bands became all the rage, no pun intended.

Exodus has more than their fair share of stellar material, but "Bonded by Blood" has to be my all-time favorite, particularly 'cos of the vocal performance of singer Paul Baloff. His voice features the gruff and aggressive growls that is common among thrash metal bands as well as some high-pitched barks and squeals that often go along with it. Those barks, squeals and growls give the voice more energy and make it more powerful and heavy. I think it fits the music better, rather than the gruff, nasally vocal delivery of Baloff's successor, Steve "Zetro" Souza, which can get a little annoying at times. Zetro's voice also doesn't have as much power as Baloff's does, as Zetro's sounds a little wimpy and whiny (not that he's a terrible vocalist, though, he does metal screams well). Baloff's voice conveys the rage and aggression of the music even further while Zetro's merely supplants the music itself. Even if the lyrics are a little uncreative and unintentionally hilarious at times, Baloff delivers them quite nicely.

Also a signature of thrash metal, and particularly of Exodus, is the fact that some of the music seems to display a sense of humor. "No Love" is a sort of bait-and-switch song in the sense that it tricks the uninitiated listener into believing that it's a sweet breakup song using a somewhat passionate-sounding song title and a light, acoustic guitar solo that sounds so pleasant and pristine. Then, after a minute, the song strikes at full force playing Exodus' signature thrash metal sound and occult-related lyrics, shocking the listener. In later years, their sense of humor would be more obvious, as they did a cover of the infamous War song "Low Rider" on their "Fabulous Disaster" album. That kind of humor would also be ripped off by many retro-thrash bands, leading a lot of people to criticize the genre as dishonest and silly. The subgenre was meant to convey a sense of anger towards the oppressing authority and only a slight touch of humor, but sometimes with many retro-thrash bands, that humor got quite out of hand. The band only used humor at most only once or twice throughout each of their albums, keeping their usage light, and the same could be said for this album.

When the aggression of any of the Big 4 isn't enough to please you, "Bonded by Blood" should do the trick. The album is to thrash metal as "To Kill a Mockingbird" is to American literature, 'cos it's an unspoken rule that all thrashers should have this album in their collection along with any of the material released by the Big 4. It's an excellent example of Bay Area thrash that many "pizza thrash" bands would rip off in the new millennium, which is a shame, since now this brilliant sound is made cliche because of them. Nonetheless, it still stands as one of the greatest thrash albums ever created, if not the number one thrash metal album of all time.

Bay Area Thrash Monsters - 96%

metalstormimpaler, May 22nd, 2012

"This song ain't about no goldfish, and it ain't about no tuna fish, and it ain't about no trout! This song is called Piranha!!!"

Words spoken by the biggest metalhead ever. Exodus are originally from the good old Bay Area thrash movement along with bands like Possessed and Forbidden. What sticks out for me on this album is that the lyrics mainly talk about Lucifer, black magic, the occult, and the usual kind of stuff, but when I listen to the music and vocals, it doesn't seem Satanic. No, in fact it just seems like getting out aggression. I think Paul's vocal style fits superbly with this album, a true master at metal (R.I.P.)

The band's guitar solos aren't as fast and hardcore like Slayer's or Possessed's, but they have their own quality and are just right for this album. Now let's get down to the songs. Like other metal albums, this one has a title track, and a great one at that, too. Next we have the title track for the band. Not too bad, but nothing to get excited about. Alright, now were getting to the goods with songs like "And Then There Were None," which I think at one part the guitars sound really evil, but is kind of spoiled by Baloff's vocals. "A Lesson in Violence" takes me on a headbanging thrill ride of just wanting to thrash around in a mosh (don't they all though?). "Metal Command" tells about obeying your metal rights and fighting for them. Now here's an interesting track for you: "Piranha", a song not about aggression or Satanism, but about piranha. My favorite track on the album. To speed things up we ave other great tracks like "No Love", the long and evil "Deliver Us to Evil", and the fast "Strike of the Beast".

Now, you can't go wrong with this album if you love metal, but why wouldn't you if you're on this website? This was Exodus at their finest, thrashiest, and pure and simply evil. Now they did release other greats like "Fabulous Disaster" and "Impact is Imminent", but for me you have to choose "Bonded By Blood", a gem that will forever glow for eternity in the ever-growing thrash metal world. You can be certain of yourself that this album has influenced tons of soon-to-come metal bands and has brought years of joyful headbanging.

A Band Without Its Rabies Shots. - 92%

Metal_Jaw, March 26th, 2012

I'll just add my two cents. This is one of those albums that everyone has already said absolutley everything about. I just wanna sing my praises for this mean motherfucker as well. That said...BONDED BY BLOOD!

You heard everything right, folks. This IS one of the original thrash albums (nearly neck and neck with "Feel The Fire"). It IS one of the most ferocious and positively evil metal experiences you'll ever get ear-raped by. The late, great Paul Baloff will fucking shred your mortal physical husk down to the last atom with his homicidal, uncontrollable vocals. From a technical standpoint, he can't actually sing, but who cares when this great man is tearing your brain a new one with little more than his voice! Yes, Gary Holt and fellow cohort Rick Hunolt will obliterate your unready ass with their combined weight of uncontrollable, yet eerily technical guitar shredding. Think the guitars from "Kill 'Em All", but 666 times more vicious. Tom Hunting comes in on a fast attack with his unholy drumming; basically just double bass jackhammering, but man can this guy make it sound putrid and perfect. To be fair though, he does have some okay technical fills himself. Rob McKillop is on bass, or maybe not; you can't really hear it in this mix like many metal records in those days, but if he were more audible, I'm damn sure he'd add to the madness, too!

The songs are split into unhinged speeders and crushing mid-paced numbers. Good crushers include the epic "Deliver Us To Evil", its guitars ongoing in riff after riff in a frenzy of a long solo. HAHAHAHA! "And Then There Were None" is great too, with some of Baloff's more "mellow" (tee-hee, yeah right) vocals and some odd gang vox, but it's these speeders ya gotta love. The screeching "Metal Command" and the similar, slightly less aggressive title track come at ya with a flurry of guitars and drumming, truly commanding the listener to bang until nothing but blood and teeth remain. The classic "A Lesson In Violence" hurts all haters with its big, mean chorus and loud, evil solo. Then we have the legendary..."PIRANHA!"..."if you think you can live, you're a fool!". This is maybe the best song on here, having a simple, headbangable main riff, completely out of control screaming, and best off all, the entire second half of the song is Gary Holt going ape shit!

Overall, if you don't own this, you are NO metal fan! It's that simple. Get it now.

Cover your head, it's raining praise again - 95%

Gutterscream, April 21st, 2011
Written based on this version: 1985, 12" vinyl, Torrid Records

"...if you've got something to say, then come my way..."

Got time for a little story?

Like GasGiant (whose review has apparently left the building), my first innocuous flirt with Exodus was an edge-of-night metal radio show (they were out there, conservatively, this one The Metal Shop, I think), one of those good semi-undergrounders where platters by Hawaii, Loudness, Tokyo Blade, and Raven actually attained regular rotation. I was a diligent listener 'cos even if something obscurely '81 got a spin, it was still freshly baked and steaming to me and a lot of others. The deejay plugged the debut of this unknown CA band with a full-throttle taste - "A Lesson in Violence" - which held my attention prisoner while the scathingly extroverted vocals of a cannibal allied with riffs of unhinged thrash malevolence. The bands that played before and after suddenly seemed underwhelming to me. If it wasn't around midnight I would've tried to get a ride over to the indie record store in town.

Some weeks later the store gets the damn thing in and with great satisfaction I fork over the moolah I had been saving for such a joyous occasion. Mom, my ride, sees the cover and says, "oh lovely". Now I'm home, my poor stereo blind and deaf to what's in store for it, and Bonded by Blood fills every nook and cranny, bounces off every metal poster.

Twenty six years later and I still have a hard time finding albums that can stand stiff-kneed in the ring with this. It's not only the album's fierce conveyance that keeps it on the heavy-hitters list, but its Twinkie-like shelf life, its ode to the cantankerous mid-'80s style, and the metallic promise that the common above ground devotee of general music will feign death to get out of its path. By '85, thrash's soldiers were lining up, some already battle-scarred and breathing heavy, and the primordial Bay Area sound was about as realized and developed as a corn field. Sure, it's fairly common knowledge nowadays that BBB was complete and ready for destruction in the hot months of '84, but that didn't do anyone any good. I don't even know if it would've mattered. If anything it probably would've been more affiliated with the crumbling Euro borderland (because they sound so much like Grim Reaper) most early critics were still clinging to like the 25th story ledge of a building.

As a fan, though, it would've been cool.

BBB's biggest asset may be its actual dividing of its assets. The Kill 'em All-ish crossfade of hot-headed riffery and full-on toothy aggression does wonders for about half the album. B-side pounders like "Piranha", "No Love", "And Then There Were None", and the especially tempestuous journey of "Deliver Us To Evil" find their path to a birthpool of changeful (but not everchanging) rhythms and structural mutations that aren't meaninglessly absorbed, but set a balance for those sections that are fleet-fingered and remorseless. These songs revel in this demiurgic margin that make them the most interesting, circumvented tracks on the disk.

Crowd killers "Strike of the Beast", "Exodus", chorus-heavy "A Lesson in Violence", and to a lesser degree, the rather colorless title cut and audience-pleasing "Metal Command" are the fervent wallopers of the post-British movement. Full of violence, virility, and vehemence, it makes me sleep better at night knowing they exist, especially the first three. As for the playful "Metal Command", like most anthems it doesn't really fluff my pillow, the song pretty moderate to me in all traits except the metal-coded message that always seemed obvious enough that I didn't need pop-up book images to show me what metal is.

But as far as the Kill 'em All coincidence goes, there's a contradistinctive attitude toward it not so much in musical tone, but in rows of lyrics that are much more impiously vocal as well as bloodthirsty (which is where my 'ol lady who, unbeknownst to me, was listening beyond my door, storms in and hollers over the music, "Is this that new album you bought?! Gimme that!", and rips the lyric sheet from my hands while telling me to turn the record off). Talk of Satan, Baphomet, black magic, princes of hell, Master Lucifer - are we calling this black metal as well or can we just finally admit (and grasp) that subjects of a wicked, occult nature were just par for the course, par for the times - scary, localized, and extreme to match the music ingesting it?

Then there's the membership that's surprisingly accomplished in its unanimity, all pulled together by a superb Prairie Sun production. Tasmanian devil Paul Baloff spews liquid flame into "the redness and the horror of blood swept across the land I stood", a shearing anti-talent who sent vocal coaches running for their lives. Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt trade solos with Hanneman/King-level chaos, perhaps even a bit better, while cinnabar-maned Tom Hunting looks possessed in his white-eyed field goal pose on the back cover. Yeah, Rob McKillop's there, too.

Celebrated a hundred ways to Tuesday, up-down-right-left to stand squarely in the winner's circle, BBB maintains its stellar average that's seldom in dispute. It was almost a waste of time writing this review.

So anyway, my frazzled worry wart of an 'ol lady, inner sleeve in hand, feverishly phones her brother, my uncle (R.I.P. 6/26/17), and starts reading the pick of the lyrical litter - "I love to stab my victims until they're dead..." - to him. "He shouldn't be listening to this..." she says into the receiver. He, being about 30 at this time, had sparring matches with my grandparents about Hendrix, Zappa, and The Grateful Dead, so he's receptive to my plight and calms her worried ass down. Needless to say, I haven't pulled a Howard Unruh...yet.

"...if you think you can live, you're a fool..."

Boned By Blood - 92%

torment159, July 7th, 2010

I surprisingly found this on cd at Buy Best brand new, bought it and immediately listened to the whole through. When the first riff of Bonded by Blood started, I felt a little sorry for my neck for it was about to go through a thrashing unlike it had ever felt before. The rest of the album held me down and penetrated me repetitively, and you know what? I liked it. Any fan of thrash metal cannot help but to enjoy this album start to finish, there is not a bad song on it.

Let us start with the vocals of the great and late Paul Baloff. From the start, you can tell he isn’t the greatest singer, in fact what he does on this album can barely be called singing at all. When I first listened to the album I thought his voice was terrible and could barely enjoy it. It wasn’t until a few times listening that I realized, who cares if he can sing he’s the most metal guy there is. Paul Baloff isn’t a good singer and anyone who says he is can’t be telling the truth but that doesn’t matter on this album because although his voice isn’t pretty the songs aren’t either and his voice suits them very well.

One downfall to the album is that although the riffs are great there isn’t very many of them. Every song seems to be focused around one or two riffs and doesn’t change much from there. The songs are simple, going through a simple structure and using simple riffs but they are catchy as hell and thrash like no other. The songs on Bonded by Blood can be arranged into three categories, the great, the good, and the average. No song is bad but a couple are pretty average compared to the others.

The songs No Love and Metal Command are pretty average songs. They are the weakest on the album. The riffing on No love isn’t nearly as good as the rest of the album. The song does not stay in your head as much as the other songs on the album. No Love starts with a acoustic guitar intro which is nice but doesn’t fit in with the rest of the song. It sounds like it should be a separate track but inside got mixed into this song as an intro that does not fit in. Metal Command is equally average as No Love. There isn’t much of a riff on this song that isn’t generic. The solo section and the riff after the solo sound very nice but the rest of the song isn’t anything special. That being said it isn’t a bad song at all but if you’re going to listen to this album it isn’t a necessary part of the experience.

The majority of the album can be put classified as good songs, not great but still very good. Songs like Piranha, Exodus, And Then There Were None, and Strike Of The Beast are good songs, but not quite the best on the album. These four songs have some great riffage and some great vocals done by Paul Baloff, not to mention the fantastic drumming of Tom Hunting. The biggest problem these songs have is they get repetitive towards the end. They are focused around two or three good riffs that sound good for a while but eventually after a whole song of switching between them, they can get old. The songs thrash as hard as anything and most people won’t even realize that they been listening to two riffs for an entire song but it is happening whether you realize it or not.

The remaining songs Bonded by Blood, A Lesson In Violence, and Deliver us to Evil are great. They have nearly no flaws. Just like the previous songs the riff count in them is low but you can barely tell because you’re too busy head banging to listen to the songs hard enough to realize. Out of these three songs Deliver us to Evil stands out for it slower tempo. It is the only song on the album that is mid paced and that makes it unique from the rest of the album. Bonded by Blood and A Lesson In Violence are more of the albums style, two extremely good thrash metal songs that start fast and never slow down. Great solos and riffs make them stand above the rest of the songs on the album.

Other than great songs, this album also has almost perfect production. For a debut of a thrash metal band at this time it has a very clean recording quality. The guitars never sound muddy, the drums are clear and coherent, and the vocals aren’t drowned out and they don’t over power everything else. Sometimes the production can take away the power of the songs but not on this album all the punch and crunch the songs were intended to have is still there. You can’t ask for much more from a bands first release.

This could be the perfect thrash metal album if it weren’t for the repetitive riffing. You can tell Exodus had fun making it and that they didn’t care what anyone thought of it as long as it was metal. They sacrificed nothing from their sound to make this album and it is exactly how they meant it to be. Other than a few repetitive songs the album is nearly perfect from start to finish.

Good Friendly Violent Thrash - 85%

DawnoftheShred, February 26th, 2010

Bonded by Blood is legendary in thrash circles because it is from the old-guard of thrash albums, back when things like technicality, accessibility, and eclecticism were of little importance in the wake of rampant speed, aggression, and pure musical extremity, not to mention hordes of riffs. It is one of the first true “thrash” albums, having shed enough NWOBHM and speed metal influence to stand on its own as something new and distinct and, with the help of several other key albums from this period, outline the style as a whole. It and its immediate sequels are also among the most widely plagiarized albums among new millennium thrashers, whose attempts to imitate the raging, painfully raw, poseur-hunting anthems pioneered here are pale at best. It is also a load of fun; an ideal album to party to, drink heavily to, piss on your neighbor’s porch and fistfight his dog to. You get the idea. It’s good stuff.

Generally speaking, this is as no-nonsense as thrash metal gets. Edgy guitars deliver heavy riffs at maximum volume and tempo with furious percussive accompaniment. There’s that ominous intro, and the random classical guitar prelude to “No Love,” but otherwise it’s all riffs, all the time. It’s a dash primitive, what with a certain sloppiness in the production and delivery, but it’s so chock full of memorable bits that you can’t help but love it anyway. Gary Holt has thrash songwriting down to a winning formula: “two parts riffs to no parts bullshit. Solo frequently and serve immediately.” Speed is a key factor, and overt melody is all but excised like the innocent victims so ruthlessly splattered in the lyrics, with the triumphant chorus of “Metal Command” being an unexpected exception. Kind of a holdover from their earlier, less brutal incarnation, it is songs like the title track and “A Lesson in Violence” that really pushed thrash in a more lethal direction, somehow being incredibly anthemic all the while. “I’ll teach you a lesson in violence you won’t soon forget, the pleasure of watching you die is what I will get!” Yeah, you’ll be howling along with that one for sure. “Strike of the Beast” goes even further still, singeing the ear hair of anyone within range with its furious riff onslaught.

However it is when speed is restrained that Exodus truly reign supreme. “And Then There Were None” and “Piranha” are mid-paced thrash defined, while tracks like “No Love” and “Deliver Us to Evil” position slower passages more evenly against speedy ones to create more involved compositions. These latter two are the template for the types of songs that would come to dominate during the Souza years. Speaking of individual songs, one random neat thing about the album is that the songs are in a variety of keys: “Piranha” is in G, “Metal Command” is in A, “A Lesson in Violence” is in B, “Strike of the Beast” is in F (I think), etc. A little thing, but it might just be one of the reasons these songs are a bit more memorable than your run-of-the-mill, E-til-death bands. Just saying. Other things worth mentioning are the emphasis on gang vocals, which seem like they’re in every song and would come to be a trademark of this band.

But while it is not uncommon for Bonded by Blood to be heralded as one of the greatest thrash albums ever, I’m usually not too quick to join in the refrain. There’s the certain matter of one Paul Baloff at the mic that dethrones this album in my book. Kicked out of the band shortly after this release for his inability to deliver his lines on time, his shrieking, rabid dog growl is both a perfect vehicle for the lyrical violence and an impediment to the band functioning as a cohesive whole. His vocal energy is contagious in a live setting, but in a studio, bathed with a ridiculous amount of reverb, his efforts are relegated to the weaker end of the spectrum. And with the wit and savagery of Steve Souza right around the corner, Baloff’s performance could easily be forgotten. Additionally, while Rick Hunolt and Gary Holt shred all over this thing, none of the lead guitar moments are particularly memorable either. And while I’m in a wishing mood, I guess I’d prefer a more polished production too.

But faults aside, Bonded by Blood is still packed with classics and anyone interested in thrash metal should have the opportunity to hear it. It’s not one of my favorites, but most of this site’s reviewers would think me mad for saying so. But I’m saying it anyway, so take it as you will.

My Picks: “And Then There Were None,” “Piranha,” “Strike of the Beast”

A classic, yes, but not perfect - 82%

Metalcoholic, August 21st, 2008

Exodus, one of the ''big four'' of thrash. What, they're not one of them?! Why? Because Anthrax got the fame for their ''humour'' and introduction of rap into thrash metal. Because Slayer caught the public eye due to their overtly satanic output. Because Mustaine, after being kicked out of Metallica, had ''set the world afire'' so loudly that his band was one of the big four even before he had started out to begin with.Why is this band so overlooked? They were around exactly at the same time as those aforementioned bands, if not earlier. These guys were kicking asses in Frisco while Metallica were still struggling in the Sunset Boulevard of L.A. with the hairspray-filled ''metal'' audience (ever wondered why there's so much smog in L.A?).

From what I've understood, the album was delayed for almost a year after it was initially finished. It's easy to make a conclusion that Exodus would've been rightfully regarded as one of ''the big four'' of thrash had this album been released in 1984. (Don't worry, I don't use the term ''big four'' very often. When it's about old-school thrash, I use the term ''big fifty'' or hundred to describe all the good bands of that era).

The cover artwork is cool, it's that eternal evil vs. good scenario, something world will never cease to wonder about. That's about all I can (or will) say about it, because overanalyzing art is for cynics and fools.

Production? Solid. While a bit muffled (in the vein of 80's thrash standards), every instrument stands out pretty well and, thank god, you don't have to turn the volume button all the way to the south-east, because this will kick your ass anyway (unlike Testament's ''The Legacy'', god, I can't listen to that album with a ''shuffle playlist'' -option on. Each time their song ends, another one, by some other band, comes out intolerably loud because of the shitty production).

The pacing on this album is very well though out. Between the fast neckbreakers, we have slow-paced, bouncy punishers, and it adds to the music's variety greatly. I hope they would've included some variety in the songs themselves, too. Sometimes it feels like that those mid-tempo grooves last for the entire song (which for me is a bit too long) and the fast tracks feel like you're continuously driving 30 mph over the speed limit. It's nice to do speeding for a while and show off to your buddies, but you grow tired of it soon. Same applies to the songs here.

There's no problem about songs themselves. Every one of them is filled with great riffs and drumwork. And that pacing, like I said: when the title track has massacred the entire club, including the bartender, it's time to take a deserved beer and relax with the mid-tempo grooves of ''And Then There Were None'' (see, even the name suits the situation). But then it's time to fight again, with the faster ''A Lesson in Violence'' and the time to relax comes again after those bastards have begun to obey ''The Metal Command''. The enemies are up to you to decide. I like to think them of as emos (yeah, I know, not very original, but still necessary) while listening to this album. Back then Exodus guys probably regarded hair bands as their mortal enemies. There's not much doubt about it actually, there are pretty straightforward capital punishment, they don't hide anything. Not any ''backwards-hidden-satanic-message'' bullshit either.

Most of the solos are a bit reminiscent of Kirk Hammett's work on ''Kill 'em all''. Not surprising, considering Kirk was one of the founding members of Exodus and probably a big influence in the start.

Lyrics? Like I said, they're pretty violent, although in a good way. I'm glad to see no trace of any Satanismus here, this is the real thing. Some years later, when grunge hit the spotlight, Kurt ''I-swear-I-don't-have-a-gun'' Cobain obtained the status of a teenage icon with his ''rape and kill me'' lyrics, but this is the real deal. When you're mad, desperate, frustrated and disillusioned, alt-rock says: kill yourself. Thrash says: kill EVERYONE ELSE! See the difference between metal and alt-rock?

I remember one interview where Gary Holt was asked about the meaning of the lyrics for ''Piranha'', probably by those PMRC-buttheads. He said something like: ''why can't we write about piranhas? should we sing of trout, salmon, or tuna fish''?

Needless to say, the vocal delivery by late Mr. Paul Baloff is amazing. He's certainly not the best singer out there, let alone the best thrash singer, but when it comes down to how well the vocals suit the lyrics, Baloff is the man to pick. What annoys me at times is the excessive amount of reverb in his vocals, although I understand that they were looking for a bit more intimitating approach than usual, to match the powerful lyrics. But at times it makes me feel like that the rest of the band recorded their instruments in the studio proper, while Paul just kicked the vocal booth down and recorded the vocals in a bathroom.

Overall, we have a very solid, classic release here, although I must say that in my book this is not Exodus' best album. Songs are awesome, there are some flaws in the pacing and in the production, but overall, a classic of early Bay area -thrash. If you wanna get a good taste of how the REAL pioneers of thrash metal sounded like, put this on your shopping cart.

Greatest. Thrash. Album. Ever! - 97%

HexDemon666, June 2nd, 2008

As it stands, Exodus is pretty much my favorite thrash metal band to date, and this album is all to blame. With razor-sharp and wickedly aggressive guitar riffs, gut busting drumming, and the legend that is Paul mother-fucking Ballof, this album pretty much destroys every other thrash classic. Kill 'Em All? Reign in Blood? Among the Living? Get the fuck outta here!

First off, Paul Ballof has some of the most unique vocals I've ever heard. He delivers a superb performance, but I wish the reverb sound on his vocals wasn't so high. But hey, that's 80's thrash for ya, so I'm not complaining. He can still wail like a banshee and it sounds beautiful.

Next up, the guitars. The riffs are amazingly intense. With high distortion, the duo unleashes both fast, furious riffing as well as some slower, ballsier riffs, such as in And Then There Were None. The solos are godly. They're not breathtakingly technical or anything, but they're fast as fuck and almost too loud. For example, on Piranha, the song is pounding along and when the first solo kicks in, I thought my ears were gonna bleed (in a good way).

Bass. I don't know. Seriously, I don't listen for it, so I don't really care.

And finally, the drums. Most of the songs are augmented by the traditional off-beat drum style usually associated with thrash metal. They're quick and in your face and they're not too loud or too quiet which is often a problem. Tom Hunting has some chops, there's no denying that.

This album is just full of awesome tracks. "All killer and no filler" as they say. I won't go into much detail about them, but some of the real highlights are Bonded by Blood, Exodus, And Then There Were None, A Lesson in Violence, Metal Command, Piranha, No Love, Deliver Us to Evil, and Strike of the Beast.

...shit, that's the whole album. Well fuck, it's just that good! I was listening through thinking "Well, this riff doesn't feel like I'm being raped by a tree branch, so I'll leave that one out", but then some other badass riff is introduced or the most vicious solo on the album so far kicks in and it's like, god damn, this song is amazing, too!

I feel like I haven't said ANYTHING about this album other than that it's abso-fucking-lutely amazing. But really, what is wrong with this album? The vocal performance is quite varied and intelligent, unlike a lot of thrash. It's not brilliant, but it's more than just screaming the whole way through. The guitars are simply godly and the drumming is technical and solid. The only thing keeping this from a 100% rating is the production value. It kills me that it doesn't get better than this, because I think this would be my favorite album ever if the quality wasn't so lacking. It's not so bad that you can't enjoy it, but it's definitely the weakest part of the entire album by far.

Needless to say, buy this. Even if you hate thrash, or metal, or music in general. Buy this or kill yourself.

The Exodus' Classic - 98%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, May 12th, 2008

We cannot live with the “ifs” or “buts”, but can you imagine if this album had been released in 1983 or 1984? Already in 1985, it was welcome as one of the milestones in the very first wave of thrash metal in the first magic period but it was scheduled to be released at least one year before if Kirk Hammett hadn’t gone to Metallica, depriving the band of a great guitarist that later would have been replaced by Rick Hunolt.
Anyway, the year 1985 was not so bad to release the debut because it was a year of a small relax before the magic 1986. The debuts of Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer were out and the follows up were just released or about to be on this year. Let’s think to “Hell Awaits” or the Megadeth’s debut and, on the other hand, we had a step further with Possessed’s “Seven Churches”.

Exodus didn’t care about this being ready to emerge with lots of great songs and a classic album. The title track, with a small intro, is pure thrash metal up tempo with fast palm muting riffs and schizophrenic vocals. Exactly these vocals by Paul Baloff were the Exodus trademark, being one of the most important characteristics in their fast sound. The axe men’s work is awesome and restless in destroying anything on their way with raw, incisive and powerful riffs and angry, violent solos.

“Exodus” is the hymn for any old school thrash metal fan. Here the band is pure energy through fast tempos and the solos that run after each other in a crescendo of intensity and impact. It’s awesome to hear how each riff is definitely catchy even if it’s played under the mid paced influence like in “And There Were None”. The simplicity of that riff and the chorus cannot be forgotten because you can remember them very well from the first listening, as the sudden speed restart with lots of solos.

“A Lesson In Violence” is all about the title. Here Exodus, once again, take no prisoners thanks to a song that could simply be considered one of the most violent ones in their entire career. The poor production doesn’t help the impact very much, being quite essential, but the group on its side, joins together all their strength and passion for this genre to create some bombastic frontal assaults as the following “Metal Command” (very speed metal oriented on the refrain) and the trashtacular “Piranha”. This last one is truly awesome and none can be indifferent in front of its unmistakable, galloping, schizophrenic guitars riff.

Surprisingly “No Love” features an acoustic guitars intro to end in a massive, destructive mid paced riff that will lead the entire song ‘till the fast part in the middle that marks quite melodic solos too and more impulsive riffs. “Deliver Us To Evil” is mostly mid paced but with a thrash load inside that can easily destroy the most violent black metal song ever, and what can be said for the last, total impact song that brings the name of “Strike of The Beast”? This is pure energy to bang and mosh in a live gig or in your room.

It’s useless to remark that anyone should own this album, because listening to it once or twice is not enough to me. This is one of he purest examples of how a thrash metal album should sound back in the 80s and it’s the classic supremacy demonstration by a band that unfortunately put out only one masterpiece in their unlucky career. Thrash on.

Classic Don't Mean You Gotta Love It - 66%

OlympicSharpshooter, April 26th, 2008

You know, you’ve gotta be careful when you start treading around (and upon) the Classics. You know, the ones with the capital C at the beginning of the word. You don’t just blow into a film studies class and start taking potshots at The Godfather, you don’t get on your soapbox and stand in front of a painting by Monet. Some shit, you just don’t do. The attitude is similar when you get into the realms of popular music, including everybody’s most favouritest irascible misanthrope heavy metal. Obviously Bonded by Blood lacks the artistic merit of say, Petrarch’s sonnets, but there is something to be said for treating the old girl with respect if not reverence. The appreciation of art is subjective, yes, but it is also to some degree objective. It’s when you get to something like Bonded by Blood, which is both objectively hard to take seriously and objectively one of the holiest grails of thrash that problems often set in.

Objectively for instance, Paul Baloff can’t sing worth a goddamn. Subjectively, I find it a very lovely thing that he’s a frothing maniac at the mic. Best thing about the album in fact. I’ve heard him described as being a hardcore vocalist, and in abstract, this is true. Like the most successful hardcore ‘singers’ he has attitude for miles, throwing himself into every line and leaving vocal technique a steaming carcass on the side of the highway for the less-than-true vultures to worry at. It’s really no wonder the poor fuck died of a stroke, because I can imagine him popping the blood vessels in his eyes after each take. I say he’s hardcore in abstract, because in a literal sense he doesn’t sound like one at all; there’s absolutely no way a Proper Hardcore Punk vocalist like Henry Rollins would have the balls to sound this ridiculous. Baloff wanders in and out of key like a vocal version of Kerry King’s solos, randomly squeaking and cawing without much regard for his surroundings. It’s so metal you half expect him to vomit up a bullet belt or one of Blackie Lawless’ buzzsaw codpieces in mid-sentence. Punk is supposed to have a devil-may-care attitude, but with the possible exception of The Ramones and The Dictators, they’re all obsessed with image to the same degree as any other pop musicians. Paul Baloff sounds like a drunken punter who improbably found his way to the stage and made it his own.

The problem is that Exodus as a band never live up to his alcoholic enthusiasm. His incoherence is unearned. Bonded by Blood has already reached the kind of locked-in, stock violence that renders so many thrash records inert and formulaic. Sure it moves along at a good clip, though not so fast as some would have you believe, but it’s too workmanlike and systematic for my tastes. Voivod was the kind of band Baloff should have been in. Can’t you just see him piss drunk, dog-piling into a jeep with those wild Quebecois and off-roading in the snow dunes? The man was born to shriek garbled nonsense like “GO SHIT! I’M NOT A FISH!” I mean, Voivod already had the inimitable Snake so the position was filled, but the point remains. Baloff needed a band as manic as he was. Dave Mustaine was crazy too, and it’s the redeeming factor of the Megadeth records before he learned how to write. Mustaine’s in complete control of his band, and thus they’re scatterbrained disasters/masterpieces. Exodus lack the requisite inspired madness necessary to back up Baloff. It shouldn’t be all that hard either. “A Lesson in Violence” is one of the most unhinged vocals you’re ever likely to hear. Baloff is almost literally barking mad. Can we get a little shock value from the instruments then? Some feedback perhaps? One of the solos is fast enough to raise blisters, but so what? Christ, Pete Townshend had more authentic intensity when he stabbed his guitar into his Marshall stack in Tommy, and that was a major Hollywood musical co-starring Oliver ‘My Fair Fucking Lady’ Reed!

I’ve heard that Kirk Hammett taught Gary Holt how to play guitar, and that certainly jibes with the competent-yet-ever-so-slightly-behaved nature of his riffing. Although I think Hammett’s a more creative musician than Holt is, Bonded by Blood would probably have sounded much the same had Kirk stayed in place of Hunolt. The H-Team can write a mean riff (see the impossibly catchy one under the impressive solo trade-offs of the otherwise interminable “Deliver Us to Evil”), but they don’t know quite how to bring them to life. Say what you will about James Hetfield, but the man’s swaggering lust for rock stardom electrifies Kill ‘Em All in ways Bonded by Blood can only grasp at. Look no further than “Metal Command”, which definitely nicks a bit of the main riff from “Motorbreath”. “Motorbreath” is the perfect example of Metallica’s trademark NWOBHM upratchet, everything breathless with enthusiasm and catchy as all get-out. “Metal Command” by comparison comes off a little flat, Baloff shrieking way above his natural range while the band trot along under him, unable to really get going because they’re looking around for a doctor to deal with the blood squirting out of their front man’s eyes. It’s not that Exodus do a bad job, and “Metal Command” is a song that could definitely get the moshes going. It’s just that it lacks the fun, the giddy-up that makes the best of the early thrash outfits endearing. They’re craftsmen, not visionaries.

I guess it makes sense then that, for my money, the album’s best songs are the two mid-tempo efforts “And Then There Were None” and “No Love”. Cornerstone 80’s demon wax, sullen stones piled cathedral thick, masonry laid with leaden conviction. There’s a reason people seldom refer to the fastest thrash songs as ‘solid’, and Exodus are at their best when they are solid. Even though this album’s attempts at being sinister generally come off about as authentically as thrift-shop Halloween decorations, the slower pace allows the riffs to grind their way into you, those chintzy trimmings revealing finger-pricking steel hooks. This isn’t exactly Trouble’s soul-searing anguish, but Witchfinder General is not out of the question. Lots of nifty multi-tracking effects abound on “No Love”, and the evil’s thick enough you can almost understand why parents briefly thought this shit would push their kids from the straight and narrow down the short and easy road that leads from Heaven down to the flames. And if that allusion-heavy babble meant nothing to you, I’ll let my balls do the talking (no invasive surgery required!). The band’s undeniable way with tasty riffs is accentuated by the dynamic opportunities the variation in tempos provides. Certainly the blazing conclusion to “And Then There Were None” strikes the skull with a force few other riffs on the album manage.

It’s that paucity of impact that I find to be the principle flaw of the work, which is a grievous one considering its nature. The album isn’t by any means bad. Even if a lot of is just kinda there, it does occasionally cough up a real gem of a riff or a lick to keep you from completely zoning out. But highlights aside, the fact of the matter is, Bonded by Blood is the work of an opening band, not a headliner. People love to talk your ear off about how Exodus ended up being a second-tier band due to sheer bad luck. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if Bonded by Blood had been released in 1984 as planned they still almost certainly wouldn’t be part of the Big Four. It wasn’t a matter of getting there first, as if any old speedster would’ve mesmerized the metal public for all time if they’d shipped out before Slayer’s brand got burned into the masses. As I see it, this is an objective fact. What Exodus had to sell was not something that captured the imagination of people at large to the same degree as the Big Four, even within the underground. Subjectively, you can prefer whoever you damn well please. I can’t prove to you Metallica were a better band, though I can illustrate why I think they are and perhaps sway your opinion. Subjectively, I think Exodus became an infinitely more entertaining band when they morphed into a poor man’s Anthrax on Fabulous Disaster.

But I won’t deny this about Bonded by Blood. It is a part of the canon. It has exerted influence that time cannot diminish. Some kid was probably pretending to be Paul Baloff when he set his mother’s underwear drawer on fire while throwing the horns. It’s in the Hall, in the foundations of grim ol’ Mt. Metal. Shit like this is critic-resistant, regardless of my qualms about its actual quality. That last bit? Well I guess that’s as good a definition of a metal Classic as any.

Stand-Outs: “No Love”, “And Then There Were None”, “A Lesson in Violence”

Paul Baloff is more metal than you. - 98%

PriestofSadWings, June 24th, 2007

This is a public service message to those of you kvlt kiddies who think you’re evil because you know who Ildjarn is: Paul Baloff is more metal than you. And if you don’t acknowledge this proven fact, you run the risk of having your wife being raped and murdered, your town plundered, your home burned to the ground, and your bare flesh cut to the bone with a rusty knife. He will teach you a lesson in violence you won’t soon forget, and the pleasure of watching you die is what he will get. He loves to stab his victims until they’re dead – a knife to the throat or a smashing blow to the head. If you don’t surrender, you’ll breathe your final breath. You won’t hear a sound ‘til the knife is in your back. Thank you.

It doesn’t really matter that he’s dead – he’s metal’s version of Chuck Norris, a guy who would bleed metal if that was at all possible. His vocals played a very large role in shaping this thrash classic into what it is. Can you spell “badass”? It’s spelled B-A-L-O-F-F.

The other instruments all seem mashed into one giant speeding ball of thrash – not that that’s a bad thing, but Baloff’s vocals stand out, just for their sheer hysteria. Awesome/ridiculous vocals notwithstanding, what Exodus have created here is one of the best thrash debut albums in the business.

Musically, it’s very similar Metallica’s first (Metal Command = Motorbreath, A Lesson in Violence = Phantom Lord, etc.), but Bonded by Blood is a little more vicious, a little meaner, and has a rare sense of what exactly causes people’s heads to bang. It sounds like Kill ‘Em All’s big, mean, red-headed half-sister went out and drank a few shots.

Another similarity between the two is the production. Kill ‘Em All’s energy-pumped twin guitars are replicated here, along with the same smashing drums. It has a very raw, live feel, almost as if these guys were pounding it out in a very nice garage.

The last similarity between these two seminal albums is the solos. Maybe we should have expected that, because Kirk taught Gary Holt how to play, but it still sounds like Kirk is playing these solos – and I’m sure he wrote some of them. Most of the solos on here ape his fast and frantic hammer-on style, and do so competently enough, I guess. But the main attraction here, as with Metallica, is the riffs, not the solos.

The rhythm section is competent, not bad, but Araya and Lombardo aren’t exactly quivering in their boots either. Rob McKillop’s bass gets buried, and while it still provides the rhythmic backbone that it’s supposed to be, it’s not a feature. And Hunting isn’t exactly a genius, simply a solid drummer.

The thing about this album is that, at its metal heart, it’s just a bunch of San Francisco teens having a good time. And those good times they had 22 years ago, still translate to the listener.

Has some decent moments, but it's pretty overrated - 61%

Human666, April 9th, 2007

I could never understand the hype and the fervency that surrounds this album.
It has some decent moments, some killer parts, but a shitload of poor riffs and uninteresting vocals and lead guitars. I don't hate this album, I like half of it but not really so much that I consider it to be "one of the best albums ever". It's really not such dominant or outstanding, I don't feel anything special when I put this cd or when I play the riffs on my guitar. It's just has some nice riffs here and there but really nothing more.

The title track begins with unnecessary silent wind, or something which sounds close. Then the guitar comes in and the main riff repeat himself for TOO LONG. It's quite boring to hear the same riff over and over again for almost the whole song. There are maybe three riffs in all this song, the main one drags almost all the song, there is another one under the solo which sounds improvised and uninteresting and the riff in the chorus is average, but nothing more. The vocals sounds dirty and tough, but they just fits well the songs and doesn't increase something outstanding, they kinda average. All in all it could be much better song if they were trying to develop it a bit, it's becoming repetitive and dull when you stuck with the same riff for the whole song.

"Exodus" is a better track. The chorus is catchy and raw, the vocals more biting, the riffs aren't boring and the lead guitar sounds fresh and intensive. "A Lesson In Violence" is a decent one. It sounds a bit repetitive but it has a brutal mood in it and the track name really describes well how the song sounds. What ruins it are the lame solos which sounds like they were improvising some randomly notes on high speed and tried to break the speed of sound sounds so lame! Whats the point with writing a cool rhythm and then to fuck up the whole song with a goofy solos which sounds like 7 years old wrote by himself?

"Deliver Us To Evil" is a longer and more varied song, maybe the best one in this album. It has some sudden notes which sounds pretty good and some tempo changes here and there. It has a lot more riffs then the other songs and it has a nice groove and it's a really enjoyable track. The rest of the songs sounds average in the better case, and repetitive and boring in the worst case.

So, is it such a perfect album? Hell no! As I said there is a shitload of futile riffs which doesn't makes you feel anything and these lead guitars sounds like they wrote it two days before recording the album, saying the least ...
The vocals average, doesn't exciting or too much aggressive, the drumming sounds ok, the production is alright...actually I couldn't find anything which makes this album to become more than average. While listening to this album I can't fell something outstanding that never done before [or after] the album came out.
It isn't mind-blowing, groundbreaking nor special in any way. I often thinks here and there that "Hey! that's a nice kicking ass riff!" but nothing more. So it has some better tracks but some boring tracks, that's would have been 50 or so, but I decided to give it 61 because it was only 1983 or 1984 when they wrote most of the songs here, that's means they still did something different and weren't just imitation of their favorite bands. But seriously, this is what people calls perfection? Give me a break...

Thrash the way Satan intended it. - 100%

MurderNArson, August 23rd, 2006

Thrash is genre that lately seems to be giving people some trouble, for reasons I cannot fathom. All manner of bands (mostly of the mainstream metalcorish variety) get that label just because they have fast songs. This is, I think, mostly because somebody told the VH1 crew that Metalica's old stuff was called thrash and since we all know that the best way to get a band some credibility is to call them the next Metallica, thrash began to be just another word for "this band is totally heavier that Slipknot and will be the defining metal band for decades to come or at least until next week when when we find a new band to hype."

If any of you have found yourselves confused by this new (and mistaken) definition of thrash, allow me to point you to Bonded By Blood, which is the textbook example of what thrash was, is, and ever will be. Harsh, fast, abrasive, violent - in short, everything thrash is supposed to sound like. Listen and weep, Shadows Fall kiddies - because this shit is PERFECT.

There is absolutely nothing to fault this album for. You might make the case that there are better vocalists than Paul - and this is true - but I can't think of anyone whose voice would have worked nearly as well with this music. Sure there are more talented and showy bassists than Rob, but he and Hunting provide the perfect backing for the guitarwork. And WHAT guitarwork! You will find some of the most amazing riffs on this album including the opening riff of the title track, which I will go so far as to call the greatest riff of all time. Yep, folks, that's it - the pinnacle of riff-writing achievement. In 21 years as of this review, nobody has come up with a riff that slays quite like that one does.

Aside from song tempos, which range from fast to blisteringly fast, here's not much variety on this album, but there doesn't need to be. After all, why bother fucking around when you've already achieved perfection? It's all brutal, mean, catchy riffs, unforgettable choruses ("And Then There Were None" and "Piranha" come to mind), blazing solos, and of course Paul Baloff's frenzied shrieks, which, by the way, waste no time on the teen-angst that seems to be so popular in modern "thrash" lyrics (*cough*Slayer'sGodHatesUsAll*cough*), and instead focus on such things as raping and murdering your wife. We do get a brief respite in the acoustic intro to "No Love," but other than that, it's more or less a 40+ minute-long skullfucking that you'll never forget.

If you do not worship this album, there is something wrong with you.

The exodus attack! - 91%

Demon_of_the_Fall, January 21st, 2005

Bonded by Blood for it's time was the best thrash metal album around, and still to this day people can relate with it’s speed, constant riffery, and violence. Being a total thrash onslaught that I love Exodus for, this contains some of the best songs metal has to offer. How can every true fucking metal-head not have this peace of raw brutality? Songs that punch your face in like "And then there were none", A Lesson in Violence", or Strike of the Beast are unrelenting riff fests, also some guts/gore filled lyrics about hacking up people, and shanking predators with a switchblade. Paul Baloff’s departure after this album left much sorrow among fans, although they did get together again in 1997 for their Another Lesson in Violence album. Much has already been mentioned about this album, and I figured I should also put my opinion in the pool. Bonded by Blood although perhaps more simple in song composure than what would follow in Exodus's career, are quite well executed by all members.

BBB shows us that Exodus were determined to be the utmost furious thrash band in the SF bay area. Hearing Holt and Hunolt rip through some ultra fast solos and riffery always puts a grin of satisfaction on my face. The drumming is also fucking intense and punishing, Hunting pushing the boundaries of speed. The vocals by Baloff are one of a kind and can never be replaced, although abit on the punkish side, I quite enjoy his vocals. The bass could use a bit of tweaking in the mix job, but sounds great for thrash. Killing is my business...and business is good! Comes to mind when I listen to Bonded, because that was easily Megadeth’s finest and most speed oriented album, released at nearly the same time (listen to the remaster for further proof). A metalheads cherished album, BBB is a bold statement of the brutality they unleash and in their lives. Even some people who don’t like this album say they have respect for it. Those who don’t like this album still hold respect for the weight of influence it had on metal, but they’re ignorant and can’t understand it. I shall no close with some of Baloffs words (R.I.P.) Paul
"Lead us into temptation
A reign of terror will begin deliver us to evil we promise death, world's end!”

Best Tracks: Bonded By Blood, And then there were None, Exodus, A Lesson in Violence, Deliver Us to Evil, Strike of the Beast


Nightcrawler, February 20th, 2004

Okay, let me get this out of the way: If you don't own this and call yourself a thrash fan, Satan will come down for your soul and drink your blood and have his demons rape you until you die. "Bonded By Blood" is thrash at it's very fucking best- it's brutal, aggressive, intense, catchy as hell, and features lyrics about headbanging, drinking blood and the almighty Satan himself. It doesn't get better than this.
The music on here is absolutely insane. Most of the songs are just fast-as-hell headbanging monsters. Imagine the fastest songs from Metallica - "Kill 'Em All" ("Hit The Lights", "Motorbreath", or better yet, the final section of "No Remorse"!), and then multiply the intensity by a hundred times, and add an attitude more evil and in-your-face than Kreator's "Pleasure To Kill" and Slayer's "Seasons In The Abyss" combined. That's pretty much what's to be found here.

But it's not a sheer speed-machine. These guys also whip out some vicious midtempo crushers, namely "And Then There Were None", "No Love" and "Deliver Us To Evil". The first is pretty interesting, and features a very nice and somewhat melodic bridge and chorus, which adds up for some interesting variety. The later two are arguably the most evil sounding songs on the album (with strong competition from pretty much all the other songs on here...), and the vicious riffs will certainly have you headbanging shortly. And as if these three songs didn't own enough already, they all speed up towards the middle/end sections with some awesome riffage all over.

And believe it or not, but I'd say these three are probably the weakest songs on here. The really good shit, is the fast stuff. We start right off with the demonic title track "Bonded By Blood". Fast, intense riffs, brutal attitude and lyrics from hell. "Taste the sweet blood of one another, sharing without any greed. Bang your head as if up from the dead, intense metal is all that you need!"
And check out the fucking solo! This also is pretty similar to "Kill 'Em All", though again viciously intensified.

And the raging thrash just continues, it never lets up. "Exodus", "A Lesson In Violence", "Metal Command", "Piranha" and "Strike of the Beast" - they're all just as fucking awesome as the title track. "Metal Command", "A Lesson In Violence" and "Piranha" stand out, but I could say the same about all songs. "Exodus" has the most brutal lyrics on here ("Kick in your face and rape and murder your wife!!") and some awesome riffage, "Piranha" has that ferocious verse riff, and "Strike of the Beast" has the most evil-sounding moment on the album, right on the middle section... "Black as night, he begins his flight, wings outstretched in the cold..." That part is so damn evil, it probably gives me goosebumps, though I'm headbanging too much to notice.

Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, metal doesn't get much better than this. "Bonded By Blood" is one of those albums that from first listen will have you headbanging while screaming along and cutting your palm to drink your blood.
The blood-drinking process has been turned into a really lame goth procedure lately, and the Satanic lyric subject has been done to death. But these guys handle both these subjects with style, and manages to totally get you into it.
What you really need to know is that Exodus' debut album is essential thrash, and an all-time classic of metal.

Bang your head against the stage!!! - 94%

UltraBoris, August 18th, 2002

Oh my fucking goodness, if they had released this album as they had planned in 1984, this would have been so fucking lethal. Exodus would be universally recognised as the GODS of thrash metal, and Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" would've been an afterthought.

Even for 1985, when albums like "Hell Awaits" and "Seven Churches" were setting new standards, this album is a lethal dose of fucking brutality. The songs here are just sick - especially when heard live, but even on the studio album they come out sounding very sharp and very heavy. Some really good production here, that accents the riff work of Holt and Hunolt, and Baloff's fucking destructive vocal style.

What's lost in many reviews, though, is the melodic sense that this album has. Especially Gary Holt's work, which includes lots of really nice guitar leads, and also a general idea of how to make songs catchy. Witness "And then There Were None" for example, which has a very memorable melody under the chorus.

Highlights: the title track, because any band that encourages banging your head INTO physical objects is just too fucking great for words. Also, "Piranha", and "No Love" and "Exodus" - Hell, they're all really fucking solid. No ballads, not even the occasional silly midpaced moment, this is balls-out brutal thrash metal.