Bonded By Blood – ‘Exiled to Earth’ Album Review

Respect the sheer ballsiness of Bonded by Blood. If you name yourselves after your prime influence: a classic album by one of your genres’ most respected bands…… well, unless you’re ‘GREAT’, you’re in for a world of trouble. Masters of Reality, for example ARE Great.

Actually, I’m now waiting for Dr. Feelgood. They’ll rule.

Bonded by Blood are a thrash band, and when I say THRASH, I mean THRASH. The good stuff – vintage thrash like you used to be able to get in the eighties, before Reagan banned it and Exodus and Death Angel set up their secret stills in the California hills to get us all through the dark times. The stuff that makes you want to wear stupidly tight jeans and grow a questionable moustache. Maybe even wear a wristband.

You can feel Bonded by Blood’s love of thrash (just look at that logo!), and, refreshingly, they’ve worshipped somewhere other than the altar of ‘THE BIG FOUR’. Yeah, you can hear early Slayer or Megadeth in some of the riffs and solo’s, but it’s an occasional nod, rather than a flat-out steal. The drums are lightning fast, and utterly brutal. And as a musical package, it’s ‘fun’.  Put it this way: when was the last time you chuckled at a Slayer song? Well, without looking like a total psychopath anyway.

But: Jose’s voice…man…. the closest I can get it is Overkill’s Blitz Ellsworth singing Sweets ‘Ballroom Blitz’ (huh….. is THAT where it comes from?). It’s a little odd, but who said ‘unconventional’ was a bad thing?

But, on to ‘Exiled to Earth’.

I’m in no way ashamed to admit geeky tendencies – and this album is the mother-lode. It’s a concept album. A Sci-Fi concept album. Actually, I’ll take that back – ALL the good concept albums are Sci-Fi concept albums, although, some of the worst ones are too.

THIS is a story of a dystopian future where mankind is no longer free. Which we’ve ALL heard  SOOOOO many times before. Here, we’ve not been enslaved by the culmination of a series of poor voting choices (like, say, Queensryches ‘Operation Mindcrime’, Fear Factory’s ‘Obsolete’ or Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Year Zero’), but by the CRONG, an alien race bent on our enslavement.

So, a bit ‘War of the Worlds’ then?

No. Not really. This is WAY more fun, as well it should do: it’s an old-school  thrash metal album. I’ll tell you what – the video for ‘Prototype Death Machine’ can be found here. Fun wasn’t it?

That’s a pretty good sampler for the album: The Crong are here, the Crong kinda suck, but Bonded by Blood will save our future selves through the power of THRASH.

Actually, you know what I said about Jose’s voice being a little odd? Well, in the context of ‘the world’s been taken over and only my band of merry thrashers and I can save humanity’, it really works. With the possibility of impending doom, for not just for him, but for the rest of us too, it adds a sense of ‘all or nothing’ desperation.

Some editions come with a sew on patch, and there’s also a comic strip to read along to – if that doesn’t strike you as cool, seriously, lighten up a bit, it’ll do you some good in the long run.

The album has one serious failing though – it simply doesn’t work as a collection of single tracks. Well, apart from ‘Prototype Death Machine’. This means you really have to listen to it all in one sitting. In the days of records and tape trading this wouldn’t be a problem, but nowadays we have MP3’s and pretty much no attention span.

I REALLY want to say this is an amazing album, which will come out in twenty years time as a super special deluxe packaged pentaphonic super spectacular edition.

On holographic lime vinyl.

But, I can’t – the fact that the storyline is SO thickly woven throughout, means it’s only a REALLY GOOD album. You can’t pull a track from here or there, or even put it on ‘random’, because they’ll sound weird when taken out of context, which is a shame, because the whole concept behind the album is such a bold move, and they’ve executed it perfectly.

Given time, Bonded by Blood will probably make something that WILL be remembered by tubby men with grey ponytails: they’ve got the unique hooks, imagination and they can play your face right off your skull, but this isn’t quite it. Not quite.

You won’t have long to wait though.

And it the meantime, you’ll have a blast listening to this.

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