Band members departing is all part and parcel of the game of writing music in a collective. Sure, there are a number of bands out there that are fortunate to stay the course with original members throughout the entirety of their career (the lucky ducks). But for the rest of us, members will come and go. Sadly, for Bloodshot Dawn’s Josh McMorran, the progression of members since the band’s self-titled debut has seen him as the sole founding member remaining in the Brit melodic death metallers. So it’s testament to the man’s resilience and drive to make blistering death metal that he’s strengthened the ranks and gone for broke with the band’s third album. The title of “Reanimation” could not be more of an appropriate title.
If there was any suggestion that there’d be a change of approach from the band with their new members, the way with which Bloodshot Dawn attack the listener is nothing short of breathtaking. “Seared Earth” rages with the sort of fire to leave more than a slight blackened tinge to the ground, with the opening sweep arpeggios sounding almost absurdly chaotic atop a pumping blast beat flurry – if that doesn’t get the blood coursing, you’ll need to seek medical advice. It’s gloriously heavy, and the band’s three-pronged vocal attack has not diminished none, with “Controlled Conscious” and “Survival Evolved” offering a punishing, visceral one-two-three assault. But it’s the latter where one of the band’s biggest virtues shines the most.
It takes a certain skill level in order to write death metal (and even more to write good death metal, at that). But the lead guitar work ought to be top-notch, or else. Fans of Bloodshot Dawn will rightly laud the band’s seven-stringers for their prowess across the fretboard, but it takes a certain mastery to not only shred the hind legs off a donkey, but to do it tastefully, too (seasoning). McMorran and fellow axe-slinger Morgan Reid can rip it up with the best of them, but their tasteful leadwork (and harmonies) on cuts like the aforementioned “Survival Evolved” and “Shackled” really stand out – they sing beautifully. It’s the sort the ensures that you’ll be humming the melodies hours later.
While all this goes on, it is all sat atop an unrelenting riff-fest. There’s a little of everything for everyone: tech riffs, melodic riffs, tremolo, groove-laden riffs and whatever else you’d care to mention. With so much variation, it’s guaranteed that there’s no room to slack, however the uncompromising nature of “Reanimation” can feel somewhat exhausting after extensive listens. Imagine the album being performed live and moshing to it: a whirlwind of energy over forty-five minutes where moshing is furiously intense. You’ll want a drink and a sit-down after, for sure (unless you’re a glutton for punishment). The fractionally-slower piece “DNA Reacquisition” provides a welcome respite to the onslaught and offers ample time to gear up for the final sonic storm in the crushing title track. Use the brief pause wisely, because you’ll need it!
The change in rank could have provided a stumbling block to Bloodshot Dawn as they went about producing “Reanimation”. By the same token, it could have also affected the band’s sound which, in turn, could have had a detrimental effect on the outcome of their third effort. Thankfully, any disturbance was dealt with admirably as the resulting product is every bit Bloodshot Dawn as their debut and second album, “Demons”. The melodies that soar throughout atop positively filthy death metal make for an exhilarating listen, whilst the sci-fi touches add an extra intrigue that is befitting the, frankly, astounding artwork. “Reanimation” may not be a comeback, per se, but it represents the band’s return to the fray: refreshed, revived and ravenous for blood.