Bonded  by Blood

Bonded by Blood - Feed the Beast (Earache Records) 2008

1.    Immortal Life    (2:55)
2.    Feed the Beast    (4:52)
3.    Psychotic Pulse    (4:28)
4.    Necropsy    (3:18)
5.    Mind Pollution    (3:26)
6.    Another Disease    (3:23)
7.    The Evil Within    (4:48)
8.    Tormenting Voices    (2:50)
9.    Civil Servant    (3:48)
10.   Self Immolation   (3:26)
11.   Vengeance    (3:25)
12.   Theme From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles   (1:13)
1. Severe Violation (4:23)
2. Unusual Punishment (3:45)

Bonded by Blood are yet another band of young thrashers coming out of California. There seems to be quite an underground scene coming out of Southern California with band's donning their patch clad denim vests and horns held high. Suprisingly, heavyweight record label Earache has come to support the the fledgling thrash metal scene by giving some fairly unknown and very young thrash bands some much needed exposure. Bonded by Blood are one such band as well as Evile, Municipal Waste and Gamma Bomb.

"Feed the Beast" is Bonded by Blood’s first full length CD and is a fairly inspired piece of speed metal. Contrary to the band's name, they are not trying to recreate the classic Exodus' debut album. Rather, Bonded by Blood have more in common with Forbidden, Vio-lence, Death Angel and even some Overkill. What really set them apart are the vocals of Jose "Aladdin" Barrales, which are not the typical barked out Paul Balloff wannabe vocals. Instead, his voice is aggressive yet offers some melody sounding more like Steve Souza's high pitched yelp.

As would be expected, Bonded by Blood offer galloping riffs, fast song tempos, shred-metal guitar solos accentuated with wah pedals and whammy dives, and plenty of shout along gang vocals. As well, the production is thick and slightly modern, yet not so much that it distracts from the classic thrash metal sound. What Bonded by Blood excels at is catchy songs. Where many retro-thrash bands are thrash for thrash sake, these guys seem to have a knack for songwriting. The speed and fury is there, but never forsaking a good hook.

Artwork designed by Tom Martin of Lich King. Limited edition CD comes with a two song bonus disc, though I am not sure how “limited” the edition is since I’ve never seen a single disc version of this CD.

Exiled to Earth Bonded by Blood - Exiled to Earth (Earache Records) 2010

1.   600 A.B. (After the Bomb) (5:02)
2.   Episodes of Aggression (3:39)
3.   Prototype: Death Machine (5:55)
4.   Prison Planet (3:09)
5.   Genetic Encryption (3:43)
6.   Blood Spilled Offerings (3:07)
7.   Exiled to Earth (3:08)
8.   Parasitic Infection (:53)
9.   Desolate Future (4:43)
10. Sector 87 (3:20)
11. Cross-Insemination (5:35)

Bonded by Blood are one of the more well known and respected neo-thrash metal bands, mostly due to the fact that they along with Gama Bomb are Earache Records fraction of the thrash metal revival. As such they are receiving plenty of exposure, and well deserved exposure at that. Bonded by Blood are quality thrash metal, regardless of the fact that their style hearkens back to another era. There are plenty of retro-thrash bands out now, but the problem with many of them is that it's just thrash for thrash sake. The songwriting lacks memorable riffs, hooks or song distinction. That is not the case with Bonded by Blood for the most part. With their sophomore release they managed to pull together an intense, riff-tastic and fun thrash album that also incorporates fun, inventive lyrics. "Exiled to Earth" is a concept album that tells a sci-fi story of a race called the Crong who are in battle with human warriors for domination of Earth. With that storyline the band basically channel a spastic energy and ride it through forty-five minutes of speed and intensity. The album’s concept is not overstated, neither interfering with the music nor becoming a silly gimmick. The whole album flows with ease and doesn't get boring. Adding to the band's sound is vocalist Jose "Aladdin" Barrales, who doesn't go for the same old growly Tom Araya wannabe vocals. Rather, he takes an approach that I would describe as a high pitched snarl; perhaps a sing-songy version of Dave Mustaine. A good album from Bonded by Blood. Perhaps the next album will be their "Master of Puppets" or "Rust in Peace".

Aftermath Bonded by Blood - The Aftermath (Earache) 2012

1.   I Can’t Hear You (3:40)
2.   Shepherds of Rot (5:05)
3.   The Aftermath (5:13)
4.   Crawling in the Shadows (3:08)
5.   In a Wake (3:28)
6.   Repulsive (3:09)
7.   Among the Vultures (2:11)
8.   Show No Fear (5:19)
9.   Restless Mind (4:10)
10. Left Behind (5:10)
11. Killing in the Name (5:00)

The third full length album from Bonded by Blood has the band recording with yet another new line-up. Original members, Juan Juarez (guitars) and Carlos Regalado (drums) are joined by new members Jessie Sanchez (bass) and screamer Mauro Gonzalez. Thus, the appropriately titled "The Aftermath" is the result of an upheaval in the Bonded by Blood camp.

The Aftermath keeps the band’s Exodus infatuation intact but adds in healthy doses of Forbidden, Vio-lence and even a slice of Annihilator. "Crawling in the Shadows" and "Restless Mind" in particular remind me of Forbidden with vocalist Mauro Gonzalez doing his best Russ Anderson impression. For the most part, thrash metal fanatics will find much to like about "The Aftermath". However, in an attempt to not sound dated Bonded by Blood manage to keep it fresh with a modern production and a few surprises. The album is produced by ex-Machine Head guitarist Logan Mader who has also produced Fear Factory and Soulfly, among others. Logan may not be the most obvious choice for a producer for a retro-thrash band, but he handles the reigns well here. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the inclusion of a cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name". However, the odd choice of a cover is not the only surprise thrown into the thrash metal mix. For example, there's a jazzy guitar solo/bass break built into the middle of album opener "I Can’t Hear You". The song itself is a full-throttle thrasher and the break definitely adds some interest to the song. The song ends with a healthy scream from Gonzalez! "Left Behind" actually reminded me of the audible assault of 90's monster Nevermore with a big Jeff Loomis-style riff and a beefy mix.

"The Aftermath" is closed out with the previously mentioned cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name". Thrash purists will most likely balk at the choice of covers, being far removed from the band's thrash metal sound. Though I am sure the song is meant to be a fun parody, and Bonded By Blood do a admirable job covering the song, I think it destroys the momentum of the album and is a letdown at the end of an otherwise solid CD.

The aftermath of losing some key band members wasn't the death knell that it could have been for Bonded by Blood. In fact,  "The Aftermath" may be Bonded by Blood's best release yet.

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