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Functional but useless - 30%

Napalm_Satan, August 21st, 2015

Let there be Blood is a much maligned effort from Exodus, and with good reason. It is a re-recording of their seminal and beloved debut album Bonded by Blood, as the cover art and title suggest. It is by no means their worst release on a musical level, but that doesn't take too much effort as the hard work has already been done and a lot of Exodus' latter day output is terrible. It is also one of the more redundant and pointless examples of re-recording old songs. It isn't as thoroughly useless as Testament's First Strike Still Deadly as the entire thing features a new vocalist, and it does turn out a lot better musically than Anthrax's The Greater of Two Evils as the band stick much closer to the originals here. Nevertheless, this is rather skip-worthy whether or not you're familiar with the original album.

The main reason for this re-recording's existence according to the band is to give the material the benefit of modern recording techniques and production. This is the one positive these versions have over the originals; the songs sound notably heavier and punchier than the old songs. The issue however is that despite sounding heavier, clearer and louder than before the music is nowhere near as violent as it once was. The instrumentation on this album is delivered with a lot of faithfulness to the originals but it all sounds very tired and forced, somehow. Not helping this is that the production is so slick and the guitars are so chunky and muddy that it strips the riffs of a lot of the abrasion and nimbleness they once had; they don't sound nearly as aggressive as they once were. The guitar is also tuned a lot lower than before, making the riffs sound not quite right (the first few seconds of 'A Lesson In Violence' are a prime example.) Other songs here are played more slowly than the originals, most notably 'And Then there Were None' which turns the song into a boring groove metal chugger and makes it sound off and wrong. The solos are mostly faithful to the originals and serve as the bright spots here, but they aren't enough to save the songs.

Of course, much worse affected than the instrumentation is the vocal performance. In place of the dearly departed icon Paul Baloff, Exodus' then current vocalist Rob Dukes takes the helm. I'll admit that I prefer him to Zetro (but that's more because I find Zetro to be a comically bad sounding vocalist) but he is certainly not the one to fill in for Paul. In place of the original album's totally unhinged, unbelievably aggressive shrieks and shouts we get a very generic metalcore/groove metal/hardcore yell. He is by no means bad and does fit the modern-sounding music well but it's not as if his approach shoots for a different feel than Paul's - he goes straight for aggression and volume, meaning he has to be compared directly to Paul's performance as he did the same thing; and in every regard Rob delivers an inferior performance.

And that is the critical flaw of this release; even with modern production this is an entirely inferior facsimile of the original that doesn't offer anything but decayed remains of what Bonded by Blood did. Had this music been novel this would be a pretty decent if unspectacular modern thrash album that showed a lot of promise, but instead it sits in the shadow of what it copies and offers very little that's new, and what it does do differently harms the music a lot. The only real bright spot here is 'Hell's Breath', a song that never made it onto the original album; this version does sound considerably better than the rough demo from 1983. Downloading that song and skipping out on the rest of this is the way to go, as nothing else here is worth listening to - just find the original album instead.