The Great Fire
It isn’t often you come across bands whose sixth album is the hungriest and perhaps most intense of their career, but with The Great Fire, that’s exactly what Bleeding Through have delivered. With shorter, tighter songs (just one breaks the four-minute mark, while four clock in at under two) the album embraces the band’s hardcore roots in volatile style, scaling back on the overt black-metal influence that dominated 2010’s Bleeding Through. It’s one hell of a ride.
“Faith In Fire,” “One By One” and “Deaf Ear” are as ruthless as it gets: short, sharp bursts of metallic noise which spit in the face of those who would get in their way, before charging right through them. Brandan Schieppati’s roar has never sounded so formidable, and the contempt that saturates his lyrics remains at the forefront of every track. Despite moving away from the epic song structures of their previous releases, the album still sounds huge, the armor-plated production of Mick Kenney (of U.K. electro-grinders Anaal Nathrakh) ensuring every edge is as hard as possible.
While the emphasis is very much placed on aggression, this does not mean Bleeding Through have abandoned the gothic-flavored melodies and accents that have long stood as one of the most compelling components of their sound. Drenched in funereal organ, the melodrama and rich melodies running through “Trail Of Seclusion” blend with titanic riffing to form a near-perfect distillation of their sound at its most anthemic, while the haunting keyboards woven into the tumultuous blasting of “Walking Dead” provide a chilling edge to its violence. Elsewhere, these elements cohere with Schieppati’s clean vocals to provide the likes of “The Devil And Self Doubt” and closer “Back To Life” with grandiose, fist-in-the-air choruses, or add extra depth to proceedings. At no time are they shoehorned into the mix for the sake of it.
It’s heartening to hear a band still sounding so vital 12 years into their career, and The Great Fire also gives the upstarts hanging onto Bleeding Through’s coattails a reality check, reminding them of how much they will have to give if they hope to compete.