There have been many waves of thrash metal in the course of the past three decades. The whole scene started in the early ‘80s with the Big Four—Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax—and the numerous American and German thrash bands that followed them. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, as thrash started to fade, the second wave began, with less-prominent American thrash bands and German bands attempting to keep the scene alive while the Big Four stagnated or lost relevance. In the late ‘90s, a new wave of thrash bands from Europe, led by the Haunted and Darkane, took on the mantle of thrash revivalists, helping to bring the scene back.
Now, in the last five years, a whole new group of young American thrash bands have attempted to bring back the old-school thrash style of the ‘80s with their fast, technical play and raw production. Bonded by Blood is one of the bands in this fourth wave of thrash, and its debut Feed the Beast showed a lot of promise. The band’s sophomore effort, Exiled to Earth, upholds the high standard Bonded by Blood set for itself and even sees the group surpass it in some ways.
Exiled to Earth is unique in that it’s a concept album, which is incredibly rare to see in thrash. The album tells the story of an alien race known as the Crong, who come to Earth intent on conquest. A group of warriors must fight back against the Crong to regain control of the planet and save the human race. Almost none of the veteran thrash bands ever attempted to create a concept album, so seeing one of the young bands do that shows a lot of maturity and inventiveness. The concept only exists in the lyrics, so it doesn’t distract from the music in any way. However, it also makes the lyrics even more interesting to read and memorize, for those who enjoy doing such things.
Musically, Exiled to Earth is a throwback to the glory days of thrash in the early ‘80s with just enough young energy added to make it sound fresh. This will make the album a big hit among both diehard thrash veterans and newcomers to the genre. Guitarists Alex Lee and Juan Juarez channel the best parts of Slayer from Reign in Blood and Seasons in the Abyss, from the lightning-fast solos to the impossibly tight riffing. Vocalist Jose Barrales is a dead ringer for Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth of Overkill, using the same high-pitched, urgent delivery of the veteran. Drummer Carlos Regalado and bassist Jerry Garcia keep the rhythm section together from start to finish, reminding listeners simultaneously of Ton Hunting from Exodus and David Ellefson of Megadeth.
In short, Bonded by Blood has created a titanic record that raises the bar for all of its contemporaries. The other young thrash bands have held their own up until this point, but Bonded by Blood is now the first one to step out and make a statement. Exiled to Earth shows all doubters that this band is the real deal, capable of playing with the veterans as well as its peers. Expect to hear more great things from Bonded by Blood in the future.