By Blood Alone - Thunderbirds
Jericho Hill Records
Gothic Progressive Thrash
7 songs (56'19")
Release year: 2011
By Blood Alone
Reviewed by Alex

The new release by Portland, Maine non-conformists By Blood Alone allowed me to have a new experience. For the first time I have had a chance to contribute financially to the production, mastering and release of the album. As much as this may create an appearance for a “conflict of interests” with me writing this review, I see nothing wrong with that as A – I hope my review is objective in the end and B – my profit is exactly zero from this “investment”. In fact, my contribution to the release of Thunderbirds is really not an investment (those who want to get a return on their $$ putting money into independent metal bands are much better off looking for other ventures), but more a statement of support for the band known for its free spirit, but beset with a personal tragedy. And it does not matter whether I was a die-hard fan of the band’s style or a mere supporter (I am more of the latter actually).

Right after the release of their previous album Seas of Blood By Blood Alone vocalist Cruella was diagnosed with breast cancer. From what I know, she took on the fight bravely and is cancer free at the moment. This harrowing experience made for a big break between Seas of Blood and Thunderbirds, but also called for even more poignant and passionate approach to the album. With Thunderbirds, at least with its opening half, the band seems to be more focused, determined, and a bit more fiery and harsher with their music. Powered by the songwriting of the guitarist John Graveside, By Blood Alone still play difficult to categorize, their own brand of keyboard supported, gothic tinged, female-fronted, meditative thrash. You would not call the cuts like Drive All Night and Night Terrors (two of my favorites on the album) headbanging experiences. If anything, they are more headnodding contemplative songs which inevitably capture your attention. No matter a few garbled drum rolls in the beginning, the two opening tracks set out with a nice tempo, provide Cruella with a definitive galloping support, make room for a logical solo and piano/string break or a symphonic arrangement, when needed.

Mid-album, with I Bleed and Having Tea, By Blood Alone showcased their more involved progressive side. Beginning with bass intro on I Bleed, keyboard/guitars interplay pick up the same riff and develop it further into a convoluted tough struggle. Having Tea somehow reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. Don’t know if it is the mentioning of tea, but the whole song alternates between falling down the rabbit hole and pretentious dancing on a chessboard marked floor. While Stalking gets back more to the gothic thrash beginning of the album with its creepier acoustic theme and Irish sounding strings, from there on out it felt that Thunderbirds ran out of steam a little bit. Misfit is an emotional track, but fails to deliver the same punch as I Bleed and 10+ min of the title track were a bit repetitive.

As a contributor to this release I would allow myself to criticize the band for not finding the resources to have a booklet inserted in their digipack. Cruella’s texts seem to be a very important part of By Blood Alone, yet they are missing from the fray. In the absence of the lyrics booklet one has to rely on gathering the meaning just by listening to the songs. While full of female sensibility and courageous spirit at the same time, Cruella is not blessed with the most powerful set of pipes. Her shtick is not bellowing words from the top of her lungs, but, instead, making them weave into the song’s fabric, although she is good for an explosion when needed (I Bleed). As a result, being able to read the lyrics would have made the encounter complete. If the band needed more funds to include the booklet, they should have asked for more and I am sure those who already contributed would have funded the release with a booklet option.

In the end, I am really pleased to have my name associated with Thunderbirds. While definitely not a band for everyone, By Blood Alone are a good fit for an artsier crowd, who are not afraid of harsher guitar riffs. My personal tastes definitely lie with the more extreme sounds, but I would be very much interested in attending a By Blood Alone live show to take in the experience.

Killing Songs :
Drive All Night, Night Terrors
Alex quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by By Blood Alone that we have reviewed:
By Blood Alone - Seas of Blood reviewed by Alex and quoted 77 / 100
By Blood Alone - Eternally (EP) reviewed by Ken and quoted 90 / 100
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