Part of San Francisco’s famous Bay Area thrash scene, Blind Illusion may have only produced one full-length studio album during their initial eleven-year existence but that record, The Sane Asylum (Combat Records) still remains an undisputed classic of its time. Not only famous for adding more technicality, diversity, and flavour to a scene that ran predominantly on speed and aggression, Blind Illusion also ended up being responsible for the creation of alternative funk metal act Primus, the band at the time featuring former Possessed guitarist Larry LaLonde and batshit bass wizard Les Claypool.
Splitting up after the release of their debut, vocalist Mark Biedermann returned in 2010 with a new album, a different sound, and a changed line-up which failed to last. Ex Heathen guitarist Doug Piercy and bassist Tom Gears were hired in 2017, a four track EP followed and now with Wrath of the Gods (Hammerheart Records) Blind Illusion finally find themselves enjoying a degree of stability. A much more settled unit, the only change in the last couple of years has been the addition of former Death Angel drummer Andy Galeon.
Big riffs, an instantly prominent bass guitar and Biedermann’s distinctive rasp lead the way on the pleasingly familiar opening cut ‘Straight as the Crowbar Flies’. ‘Slow Death’ follows, a pacey thrasher with some particularly adept lead work from Piercy while ‘Protomolecule’ is like stepping back into the mid-eighties with shades of Testament and Exodus combining seamlessly with the band’s own inimitable style.
‘Spaced’ delivers a funky but hard-edged groove while the title track is a moodier affair with bursts of energy. The upbeat metal funk of ‘Behemoth’ creates a jaunty but aggressive ride with a splash of Black Sabbath and a guitar solo which definitely crosses the border into Brian May country while ‘Lucifer’s Awakening’ closes the album with a combination of classic gallop riffs, jazz, funk and blues.
The CD version continues with ‘Amazing Maniacal Monolith’ and ‘No Rest ‘til Budapest’, two highly enjoyable bonus cuts which could have been rescued from the seventirs and eighties respectively, both serving as fun little encores to a tremendous comeback.
All good things come to those who wait and while three decades is a hell of a long time to remain patient, Wrath of the Gods is definitely worth it. Finally delivering a true natural successor to The Sane Asylum, this might not be the classic line-up any more but with its mood swings and gear shifts, tremendous individual performances and a vintage production with just the right amount of modern polish, it certainly feels like it.
8 / 10