In the past couple of years, Bonded By Blood has taken a few huge blows. Vocalist Jose Barrales left in 2010, and was followed by lead guitar player Alex Lee in 2011. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Barrales’ style. He has one of the more unique voices from any newer thrash band and his delivery really took the band to the next level. Likewise, Alex Lee was a fantastic shredder. In songs like “Episodes of Aggression” and “Necropsy”, he proved to be a worthwhile asset to the band. With that in mind, it’s quite clear why many fans (myself included) were extremely skeptical of a new Bonded By Blood record. The bad news is that Barrales proved to be irreplaceable, but the good news is that “The Aftermath” is still a killer record.
Bonded By Blood has always been about quality riffs, and “The Aftermath” follows suit. Right from the beginning, you are pummeled with a seemingly endless number of crunchy, fast, riffs. These riffs aren’t as memorable as those found on the previous albums, but that might be because there are so many of them. As if Juan Juarez’ rhythm playing wasn’t punishing enough, he delivers one of the most impressive lead performances I've heard in a long time. Any skepticism I had about this becoming a one guitar band is now gone. In fact, the lack of rhythm guitars underneath the solos actually makes for a unique sound in thrash. During songs like “I Can’t Hear You” and “Repulsive”, Juarez shreds non-stop, and does so with some unique melodies.
My other concern with this record was the vocals. In any other circumstance, Mauro Gonzles is more than a competent thrash vocalist. He has a harsh raspy attack, not unlike his predecessor; however, it is this slight similarity that makes me thing what could have been if Barrales was still on vocals. Still, he gets the job done, and I do see a lot of potential in his voice. I think he’ll make an even bigger impact on the next Bonded By Blood album. The drumming on “The Aftermath” is seriously tight. The snare is similar to that high-pitched sound found on the “Feed The Beast”, but doesn’t suffer from the common “tinny” sound. The bass pops out more often than on other thrash records, though it’s mainly used for adding some creepy sounding bass lines (such as on the title track).
The songs themselves are fairly similar. With the exception of the strange, but well-covered Rage Against The Machine song, “Killing In The Name”, every track is an assault of rhythm and speed. Sometimes, the band interjects half time chugging, but they are often thrashing with full force. The opening of “The Aftermath” hearkens back to the title track from Exiled To Earth”, but everything else is relatively straightforward. If you enjoyed the previous two albums, “The Aftermath” is an enjoyable follow-up. Like most bands with lineup changes, Bonded By Blood may need a bit of time to get back to their best, but this album is still going to be hovering around my top 10 this year.
"I Can't Hear You"
"Shepherds of Rot"
4.25/5 or 85%.
Written by Scott