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Hatross Overlord

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:04 am    Post subject: EXODUS - BONDED BY BLOOD Reply with quote


(Combat Records, 1985)

My first introduction to thrash metal was back in early '85 when a school friend of mine (Dylan McG, who later painted all of our denim jackets with band logos and assorted pics of demons) presented a tape cassette that an acquaintance of his had made for him. This tape featured, among others several songs from Show No Mercy, Kill 'em All, Killing is my Business, Black Metal, the first Helloween EP and Fast as a Shark by Accept. And certainly the ominous and memorable intro to Bonded by Blood was on there too, for who could forget the incoming, thunderous roar of an airplane about to hit your roof?
We played the tape to death during lunchtimes in an English classroom, just me, Dylan, and then other metal heads, over time. I borrowed it and copied it on my dad's stereo and played it continuously at home on a battered Walkman which had nearly worn out my copied Powerslave tape. Considering I was still at school with a part-time job at my father's petrol (gas) station that funded my sudden craze for anything and all thrash I sold a bunch of non-thrash metal albums, EPs and picture discs I had collected up to that point (Twisted Sister, Maiden, Motley Crue, Diamond Head, Sabbath, etc). Yes, the collector that I am now regrets selling some of what I had - an original Maiden Japan 12inch single, if I recall correctly - but first order of the day back then was to pick up the albums that had so impressed on that compilation tape. I can't remember which album I picked up first - maybe Metallica? - but I had Kill 'em All and Show No Mercy before I eventually got my hands on Bonded by Blood. Later on I picked up the famous Speed Kills compilation and discovered even more bands, but where this could sprout into a fully fledged essay regarding 'Ye Olde School Days of Thrash' lets focus on the album at hand.

If you know your metal history then you'll know that Bay Area based Exodus was formed by drummer Tom Hunting and one Kirk Hammett. The first Exodus line-up was Hammett, Hunting (on vocals as well as playing drums), Jeff Andrews on bass, with Gary Holt and then vocalist Paul Baloff joining soon after. When Hammett jumped ship to join a little known band called Metallica - Kerry King of Slayer later pointed out on Holt's behalf that James & Lars 'poached the wrong guitarist' - his replacement was Rick Hunolt, and soon after bassist Rob McKillop stepped in after the departure of Andrews. The classic Exodus line-up was now formed.

I have a Kerrang interview with Gary Holt from 1985 conducted by Xavier Russell, in an article entitled Profession of Violence. Recalling the early days when Hammett was still in the band, he says this: "We originally put a demo out which contained two killer songs, Death & Domination and Warlord, both of which have yet to appear on vinyl by the way. Listening to 'em now, it amazes me how wimpy we were back in those days. I suppose this has something to do with the fact that we were influenced by the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Hell, there was nothing else around at that time, and the majority of metalheads here were still into AC/DC and Ted Nugent. Yeah, I guess our stuff was a lot slower back in the early days ..."
Once Hammett was out of the picture, and they replaced long-time friend and bassist Andrews Exodus found a new pace to their song writing. Hammett and Holt "... used to have bitter conflicts over guitar breaks and riffs; it was kinda dumb. But as soon as Kirk quit we moved up a gear and our songs began to get faster. The first two songs I wrote after Kirk went to Metallica were Strike of the Beast and No Love ..."

Exodus entered the Prairie Sun studios in July 1984 with producer Mark Whitaker to record what would be a defining classic of thrash metal. I needn't give you a track-by-track breakdown, for really, if you consider yourself a metal fan in any shape or form then you *should* know this album. Each song, be it the aural assault of the title track, Piranha (it ain't no goldfish), the double whammy of A Lesson in Violence and Metal Command, the cutting Deliver Us From Evil (all 7-minutes of it) is brilliant in its own right, beautifully produced which still sounds fresh and vibrant today as it did back then. A violent record despite its warmth (sonically, at least) considering BBB was recorded two years before Slayer's Reign in Blood it was by far one of the most vicious, face-shredding and visceral albums of the 1980's. From the pounding (literally) drumming of Hunting, the esquisite soloing of Holt and Hunolt, the rumbling bass lines of McKillop ... and let us not forget the sheer demonic roaring of vocalist Paul Baloff. Here was a frontman one could not ignore, a force to be reckoned with, his vocals as searing as his presence. This was a man who ordered the death of poseurs from the stage, who decried anything wimpy; if it wasn't heavy it wasn't worth shit. His vocal preformance on BBB is legendary simply because it has never been matched. Pity the poor-substitute of Steve Souza and current vocalist Rob Dukes, for Baloff was definitive. His sudden and tragic passing in 2002 aged 41 was an irreplaceable loss for metal.

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.

Recorded in the summer of 1984 BBB was originally slated for release in November. However a series of mishaps delayed the album until April 1985, a near full year later.

"Well, first off we had an accident with the company who did our master plates. The plates broke and the whole album needed remixing and re-mastering, so that caused a three week delay. The next problem we had was the sleeve artwork. The LP was originally called 'A Lesson in Violence' and the cover depicted the band walking down a darkened street and at the end of the street there was, like, all these mutilated women. It was a putrid cover; the women had their legs cut off and stuff. But we had to change it. We don't want to talk about the new cover, we were happy with the first one."

Considering that BBB's cover of two Siamese twins, one good, one evil, the evil twin trying to break free is now iconic (albeit cheesy), painted by Richard A. Ferrano, one can only imagine what the original album cover looked like. In today's age where gore grind/so-called brutal death metal albums depicts the most graphic, misogynistic violence towards women, perhaps this change of events did Exodus a favour.

Though not as influential as Reign in Blood or Master of Puppets, nevertheless BBB has made its mark on history. Robb Flynn of Vio-Lence/Machine Head fame claims that if it wasn't for Exodus there would be no MH. There is also a nu-thrash band called Bonded by Blood, which vocalist Jose Barrales states that Exodus' debut had a 'profound affect' on him. According to Barrales, beyond the name, Bonded by Blood borrowed from Exodus inspiration for everything. "From the guitars being razor-sharp to the drums, the speed. We wanted to do something that resemble that. Something that is gonna be fast and in-your-face. And what better band than Exodus to be inspired by?" Exodus' lead guitarist Gary Holt says that is a compliment that the band has named themselves after Bonded by Blood. "Could I have imagined that all these years later a band was going to name themselves after our first album? Probably not. It is not like that convention - naming bands after songs - is something new, but I think it is great." (1)

With all the recent knickers-in-a-twist over the 'Big 4' gigs, whether there should be a 'Big 5' with Exodus as that fifth band is subject to debate. My opinion is that a great miscarriage of justice has done by not recognising Exodus as such. Gary Holt shrugs this off, but the man is being too modest. What would have happened if the debut album had been released in 1984 instead of '85 is one of the greatest 'what if's' in metal circles. Granted subsequent albums are below par, but then again there are some questionable records from the Big 4. But let's not name names, shall we ...?

Whether you buy into this or not the fact remains that Bonded by Blood rules. Period.


Exodus - Piranha (live 1985):


Last edited by Bacteria13 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Who'sGOD Who'sDOG?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome review of one of the best thrash metal albums EVER.
"I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but hostility, chaos and murder." -Werner Herzog
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