Originally reviewed here.
When a band names themselves after a famous album, you would expect that band to try to live up to the name. Bonded by Blood is named after the amazing debut album from thrash metal pioneers Exodus. It is one of the better, if not the best, thrash metal albums in history. So Bonded by Blood already has their work cut out for them to try to not be "that band named after the Exodus album" and forge their own identity.
On their prior album, Exiled to Earth, Bonded by Blood appeared as if they had discovered their own sound, stepping out of the shadow for a little while of their namesake. They had crafted a rather impressive concept album about a dystopian future. The album was well-received and appeared to set the band up for success in the future. Bonded by Blood had joined the ranks of Skeletonwitch, Vektor, and other newer thrash metal bands to truly find their own voice instead of just copying the music that had come before them.
Which brings us to Bonded by Blood's third album. The third album is often an important album in a band's catalogue. It usually lays the foundation for how the band is going to proceed. Will they grow or will they stagnate? Well it appears from this album that Bonded by Blood will stagnate. Bonded by Blood has not taken a step forward after their impressive sophomore album. This is more of a lateral step. They did not really take a step back, but this is basically indistinguishable from any other thrash metal album.
There are two big problems here. The first one is the vocals. Bonded by Blood features a new singer this time around, Mauro Gonzales. Their previous singer Jose Barrales was a very good thrash metal vocalist, exhibiting a similar style to Exodus screamers Paul Baloff and Steve Souza. Gonzales's style is cleaner and not as raw. It is less a thrash metal style and more of a classic heavy metal style. It's fine for what it is, but their last vocalist captured the genre a little bit more.
The other issue is the production. This is way too clean. Thrash metal is supposed to be raw and dirty. This is too sterile.
Now Bonded by Blood still put together some decent songs and the riffs are still razor-sharp. The band obviously knows how to thrash. It is a little unfortunate that they were unable to take that step forward again after a terrific second album. I am a thrash metal fan and will likely continue to listen to Bonded by Blood because they do a lot of things very well. Unfortunately this album will likely not win them many new fans.
One more note, the Rage Against the Machine cover is terrible.
Bonded by Blood still craft some good moments, but this is not a step forward from their last album.