REVIEW: BLEED FROM WITHIN – “Era”
Since their initial inception in the mid-2000s, the Scottish metal band Bleed from Within have become one of the most equally underappreciated yet critically acclaimed acts in contemporary heavy music, being associated with the likes of Pantera, Machine Head and Lamb of God as well as going out on the road with Carcass, Amon Amarth, Megadeth, Suicide Silence and various other bands. After a five-year wait since the release of their last album ‘Uprising’ in 2013, Bleed from Within are back with their new record ‘Era’ scheduled for release in April.
The album opens with “Clarity” – a ferocious barrage of metalcore guitar riffage paired with the typical usage of heavy vocals in the verses and cleans in the choruses. While this approach has been the norm in this genre of music for quite some time now, Bleed from Within are still capable of making it sound relatively fresh despite the amount of bands taking advantage of it in their own music. “Crown of Misery” – which comes immediately next – applies plenty of thrash-influenced instrumentation right after its brutally violent opening growl from vocalist Scott Kennedy, while “Cast Down” settles for a slightly more mellow approach but is nonetheless still fairly full-throttle for the most part.
“Afterlife” with its opening emphasis on percussion as the lead instrument as opposed to guitar paves the way for the vocals to take the reigns and be in control of where the song goes. Lyricism is one of the areas in which this album, in my opinion at least, particularly excels, with Kennedy roaring “we need actions, we need them now!” before kicking into a breakdown section. In general though, “Afterlife” definitely comes across as one of the album’s weaker songs. Fortunately though, “Shiver” picks the momentum right back up with a bounce to the whole rhythm of the song that is built for the track’s live performances as opposed to hearing its recorded counterpart. Incorporating more clean vocals back into this song is also one of the best weapons in Bleed from Within’s musical arsenal, as they always improve the quality of the song whenever they are used.
A song called “Bed of Snakes” is hardly going to be a soft ballad, and fortunately this track does not disappoint one bit. Flying out of the gates right from the very beginning with memorable work from guitarists Martyn Evans and Craig Gowans as well as the rhythm section of bassist Davie Provan and drummer Ali Richardson – the whole composition speeds along in such a way that it feels like the band are almost playing too fast but are still remarkably tight as musicians both individually and as a collective force.
Only a handful more songs left to go at this point until the album reaches its conclusion. “I Am Oblivion, Pt II” and “Alone in the Sun” explore different musical territory, with the former being one of the most ‘listener-friendly’ songs on the album despite its industrial nature and the back and forth approach between various levels of musical heaviness. The latter song “Alone in a Room”, however, is essentially another example of Bleed from Within’s ability to deliver crushingly fast and exciting metal, in every possible sense. “Gatekeeper”, “Ruina” and the closing track “Alive” all bring their own individually unique touches to the final moments of the album, with the stomping riffs of “Gatekeeper”, the emphasized role of the drums on “Ruina” in addition to its savagely delivered vocals, and finally “Alive” which as the album’s only promotional single is a good idea of what the rest of the record’s 10 songs are like.
Metalcore is one of those genres that can quite easily become musically stagnant, as there isn’t much room to experiment within the established conventions of what makes metalcore the style of heavy and aggressive music that it is. The positive of that is that when you stumble across a band that excels at this type of music, you’ve hit gold. Bleed from Within are a brilliant example of this type of thing happening, as ‘Era’ is without doubt one of the year’s best showings of metalcore done right. Everyone will be anticipating the new Parkway Drive album, but try your best not to let this one slip under your radar. You won’t regret it.