Joined: 30 Jan 2003
|Posted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:53 am Post subject: BLESSED DEATH - DESTINED FOR EXTINCTION
|BLESSED DEATH - DESTINED FOR EXTINCTION
(Roadrunner/Roadracer Records, 1987)
Take a glut of Black Sabbath. Add loads and loads of Slayer, combine with the cast of Easy Rider and you have Blessed Death, a 5-piece of bearded, hairy metal-heads from New Jersey that released one of the wildest thrash/speed metal albums in the late 1980's.
Destined for Extinction was their second album, their debut Kill or be Killed released in 1985 a furious albeit messy affair, heavy on Sabbath and Venom. Destined �, produced by Alex Perialas and recorded live at the famous Pyramid Studio was fresher, crisper and a far more ferocious beast than Kill ...; indeed, the album still holds up today amid the Pro-Tools generation.
There was a small feature on BD in one of the first issues of Mega Metal Kerrang! Written by one Dante Bonutto on the release of their debut album he gave a brief history of the band as well as speaking with vocalist Larry Portelli. BD came together as the �final product of two groups, Death (obviously not Chuck�s Death) and Chrome Locust. A member of one of those outfits killed himself and it was a case of "forgetting music or getting the strongest of the people who were left and moving on. So we decided to form Blessed Death. We felt that there were no limits to what we could do ..."
'Neither Death nor Chrome Locust had made it as far as the recording studio, continued Bonutto, 'but "this new line-up was able to capture the BD sound on vinyl - the aforementioned Kill or be Killed - though the band feel that the album doesn't really do justice to the 'ripping energy' of their live show ..."
Despite the positive write-up Bonutto made one unforgivable error - comparing Blessed Death to SOD. Granted, Scott Ian's Stormtroopers of Death were flavour of the month back then but Christ, Blessed Death, their feet planted in the murky soil of Sabbath and 70's Rock sounded nothing like the Hardcore trappings of Sgt. D, and was hardly influenced by them, either.
Introducing the band - Larry Portelli on vocals, guitarists Jeff Anderson and Nick Fiorentino, and identical twin rhythm section Kevin & Chris Powelson on bass and drums respectively - these are the collected individuals who came up with the opening riff to Digital War. It is not *just* a riff - it's a riff of monstrous proportions, an end-of-the-world riff that churns and grinds its way into the lunatic noise that is their brand of thrash metal. Portelli's vocals range from deep growling to high pitched screaming - not your average Glam band screeching, I mean SCREAMING - have you ever heard a vocal performance more disturbing than Pain Killer?
Yet it wasn't all shouting and wailing guitar solos - occasionally the band came back down to earth to let the listener breathe; witness the sombre moments of Incoming Wounded, one of two songs about the Vietnam War. The track starts with a roar, blood-soaked lyrics decrying the senselessness of young men sent off as cannon fodder: War machine just keeps turning/Incoming wounded/Men are dying on this killing floor/Incoming wounded/Take us out, stop the bleeding/Incoming wounded/Bring us back to feed the war before a deceiving calm descends, the word 'No' harmoniously sung over an ominous quiet. And then, inevitably, back to the fray, the listener bombarded with noise once more.
In 1987 a few thrash bands, bored with the silliness of Satan and songs about getting drunk joined their hardcore brethren by writing about contemporary issues, such as the Reagan sponsored Star Wars program and the futility of war (see Voivod's Killing Technology). Blessed Death was no exception, and though they were never a Satanic band to begin with their subject matter was based in gritty realism; Death in the Sky, 10,000 Days of Bloodshed and Destruction�s Eve realized this.
"I like to expose the evil that man is capable of," said Portelli, "to show that we only care for our lust, greed and survival. We don't want to die or kill ourselves, but to us death is something that is gonna relieve the pain of living. The whole concept of Blessed Death comes from that last breath."
Reviews were mixed, and the one I have on hand was from Xavier Russell, he reviewing a non-Noise Records release (must have been a slow month). In a 3-K review Russell points out the band's appearance - ' ... the members of BD look like anything but a Frash band. Nope, these guys look like they could be sons of Grateful Dead, and I'm sure if the Dead were starting out today, this is the sorta music they would be playing - SPACED-OUT DEATH HATE-METAL!" Though he seems to enjoy the album Russell does have one complaint; "The material is just a wee bit samey," "but that said, 'Destined ... is still worth an earful - if you can stomach it, that is!" He did love his exclamation marks, did Russell.
Yet regrettably, BD were another faceless band on the Roadrunner label, who signed anything and (seemingly) everything connected with first thrash metal and later death metal. With zero promotion the band was left to their own devices to sell their album; unfortunately, as was the case for many bands if you didn�t sell (and how could you without that all-important record label push and a place on a popular tour?) you were forgotten in favour of more popular/commercial bands and then inevitably dropped. Gotta love the music business.
The band did go on to record one more album, Hour of Pain, which finally saw release several years ago. Though not as chaotic as Destined ... it is a fine addition to a much lauded albeit short discography. If the band had kept it together one can't help wondering what gems could have been but ... c'est la vie.
Nevertheless, for those in the know (and I'm hopeful that some of you reading this will discover Blessed Death for the first time & be in awe of them as I first was and, it must be said still am) they were a highpoint in 1980's thrash, and Destined ... remains a heavy, psychedelic slab of insane thrash/speed metal to this day.
10,000 Days of Bloodshed live:
Digital War, Incoming Wounded & Pray for Death:
Last edited by Bacteria13 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:32 am; edited 1 time in total