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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!