Here comes another entry into the retro-thrash movement, for better or worse. Exiled to Earth is the second album by California thrashers Bonded by Blood and much like their debut, it’s firmly rooted in the 80’s thrash movement. Back in the days of the original thrash invasion, for every top-notch band like Slayer or Exodus, there were ten sub-par, generic clones like Atrophy, Devastation and Gothic Slam. Sadly, this release falls closer to the latter category.
Across all eleven tracks on Exiled to Earth you get straight-forward, simplistic 80’s thrash with few frills. The delivery at times reminds of Faith or Fear (if anyone remembers them), Vio-lence, and at times, Nasty Savage but not nearly as good. Thinking man’s metal this ain’t but that’s fine. It’s thrash and supposed to be ugly and fast, both of which are achieved here. However, where Exiled to Earth goes wrong immediately is the vocals of Aladdin. While his vocals didn’t bother me on their debut Feed the Beast, he seems to have changed his style here and while his heart is in the right place and he’s doing his best to capture the style and sound of great thrash vocalists of the past, this was a mistake. His new sound is an odd mixture of Sean Killian from Vio-lence and Schmier from Destruction. While that may sound good on paper, it really ends up being annoying across the length of Exiled to Earth. Many times, he comes across like the crazy cartoon mascot for Coco Puffs cereal and his chirping and shrieking ends up being distracting and bothersome rather quickly. Making matters worse, he is way up front in the mix and overpowers the guitars which should be the driving force of any thrash album.
The guitar work itself, though taking a backseat to Aladdin’s screaming, is solid enough and effective if somewhat generic. The thrash riffs are basic but they do the job of driving the material. On “Prototype: Death Machine” and “Genetic Encryption,” the riffs are energetic and dynamic, while on “Prison Planet” and “Cross-Insemination” the soloing is interesting. However, none of this raises the level of the material much past average and at best this is just passable thrash metal. Even the standout tracks have a feeling of “eh, so what?” to them that I couldn’t overcome through repeated listens. That is saying something given my track record of defending retro thrash bands in the past.
As much as I loved the original thrash invasion and have enjoyed the current retro thrash movement, Exiled to Earth doesn’t do much for me at all. While it may illicit a smile from thrash old timers like myself or awaken some vague sense of 80s nostalgia, it doesn’t have much going for it beyond that and nostalgia alone won’t get the job done. Without better material, Bonded by Blood will quickly be relegated to the ranks of an also ran in the retro movement and too many of such acts bring a movement to a quick end. Track down their far superior debut instead of this.
On a personal note, I would like to add that this promo was heavily beeped to protect against copyright infringement and illegal downloading. While I fully appreciate the need to protect the artist’s work from theft, having high pitched, ear drum bursting beeps placed throughout a thrash album that must be listened to loudly to be appreciated is not good policy. There, I got that off my chest. Now off the ear doctor.