Reviews Exodus Let There be Blood

Exodus

Let There be Blood

Why re-record your own album almost twenty-five years later? Some, including this reviewer, find the redundancy almost laughable, but yet it appears to be more and more common, crossing across all genres – everyone from Dimmu Borgir to the Cowboy Junkies is doing it. The more mainstream of bands could certainly be accused of doing it solely for financial gain. After all, new material, old material, re-recorded, re-imagined, compiled into a “greatest hits” collection, it’s usually all the same shit when you’re working with that brand name recognition. Just slap the band’s name on the front and the sheep will loosen the purse strings.

But when it’s a thousand times cheaper to release the ubiquitous “hits” album, be it remastered or not, the question again becomes why? Why re-record your own stuff? If you’re legendary thrash band Exodus, you re-record as an homage to deceased former singer Paul Baloff, who died of complications from a stroke in 2002.

Let There be Blood is the 2008 version of the band’s debut, Bonded by Blood, recorded in 1985 with Baloff. The album is considered by many to be a forgotten classic. “Forgotten” only in the sense that it was lost in the formidable shadow of thrash metal’s Big 4 at the time: Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Metallica. The original is still a classic, with Baloff’s growl slicing and dicing through Gary Holt and (then guitarist) Rich Hunolt’s freight-train riffage.

The new version plays out very faithful to the original. There’s no “re-imaginings” here. The production is better to be sure but the riffs are the same. Holt’s solos are more flashy than the originals but the guy’s been practicing these songs for over twenty years – he’s entitled. Even the tempos remain by and large the same – no use speeding things up to show the kids you can still thrash with the young’uns. They heard the last two albums and know the band has nothing to prove. The speed serves the songs, period. Vocalist Rob Dukes handles himself just as strong as on previous albums. He was never the expendable punk to fill the vocal slot – he took the gig back in 2005 and immediately choked the life out of all the naysayers. Considering he never even met Baloff, the amount of reverence and respect he shows on this recording could only come from a man who, and rightfully so, is very secure with his station in life.

But look, Let There be Blood is not as good as the original. Fans will know this upon listening just as the band knew this upon re-recording. In the liner notes, founding member Holt concedes that this in no way is an attempt to usurp the original but to serve as more of a companion piece, an aperitif, if you will. This is a fair and accurate assessment. So did it need to be made? No, not really. Is this an essential album? Nah. But hold on there, cynics - what makes Let There be Blood stand out from the other reworkings of their peers (are you listening, Anthrax?) is that clearly every ounce of this album was made with absolute love and respect for a fallen comrade, and that, at the very least makes it worth the time to listen.

7.3 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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2008

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