Released: 2008, Zaentz Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Exodus’ 1985 album, BONDED BY BLOOD, is a seminal release of the thrash metal genre. For over twenty years, it has stood the test of time, not only as the Bay Area band’s career pinnacle, but also through its massive influence on other bands. The latest resurgence of Bay Area-influenced thrash metal is testament (no pun intended) to just how important BONDED BY BLOOD is to heavy metal as a whole.
This brings us to a most curious release, LET THERE BE BLOOD, a re-recording of BONDED BY BLOOD with the current lineup of Exodus cranking out the tunes. Only guitarist Gary Holt and drummer Tom Hunting remain from the BONDED BY BLOOD lineup but that doesn’t stop LET THERE BE BLOOD from sounding like a note-for-note copy (albeit with superior production, thanks to Andy Sneap) of the original. So the question that begs to be asked is, what is the point of this record and why should anyone bother with LET THERE BE BLOOD?
There is no denying the quality of the music found on LET THERE BE BLOOD, as the original record is flawless from start to finish with each song being a bona fide classic. The music is pure, unbridled aggression, with the title track and “Metal Command” being odes to thrash metal maniacs everywhere, the murderous “Exodus” and the self-explanatory “A Lesson In Violence.” At the time, Exodus was the bad apple among the likes of Metallica and Testament. Even while Slayer was drifting further into extreme territory with HELL AWAITS, Exodus’ rampant calls to arms from vocalist Paul Baloff left little to the imagination that you simply did not get in the way of this band. While Rob Dukes does his best interpretation of the songs, Baloff’s insidious snarl is missed. Holt nails the solos perfectly and “Piranha” and the classical guitar intro to “No Love” really benefit from the updated production touches, but overall, I’m left wondering if I will ever play this record again after reviewing it.
Holt has come out and stated that LET THERE BE BLOOD was recorded as a tribute to Baloff’s legacy and should only be taken as such, but part of BONDED BY BLOOD’s appeal is the raw sound that incites fans to “bang your head against the stage.” Yes, LET THERE BE BLOOD sounds real good but as Gus Van Sant found out when filming a shot-for-shot remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic, PSYCHO, you cannot improve upon a piece of art that has etched its place into the collective memory just for the sake of trying to modernize it. Along with MASTER OF PUPPETS, REIGN IN BLOOD, BRITISH STEEL and POWERSLAVE, BONDED BY BLOOD is a hallowed gem in the canon of heavy metal. Despite their obvious flaws, fans have grown to cherish and worship those albums for what they are and what they represent at that point in time. On that basis and despite the good intentions of all involved, it is difficult to recommend LET THERE BE BLOOD based solely on the merit of modern “improvements.” The songs are lovingly re-crafted and stick to the originals but there just echoes a mantra-like sentiment of “why bother” that cannot be shaken.
Bottom line: Do yourself a favor by skipping this and buy BONDED BY BLOOD instead.