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Bleeding Through: The Great Fire

Contrary to popular belief of magazines and less experienced fans, American metal is generally a cesspool of the quality the rest of the metal world shares, and so when bands that come out of America are actually good, it's a big deal. That's why the 80s Florida scene was huge, that's why the hardcore scene was huge with Black Flag and Integrity and such, that's why today's folk metal from the west is still impacting, and that's also why Orange County's only good export, Bleeding Through, was notable back in the day. Bleeding Through epitomized what bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Atreyu and many other ripoffs wanted to be, which was metal with color. Up through Declaration the band had a knack for standing out from their contemporaries, and it was enough to speak for regardless of the reception of their records. Today is a different story for them.

The Great Fire is essentially pulling itself apart. It wants to be an atmospheric record but also a trigger-happy assault, it wants to revert back to shorter, hardcore-esque tracks but also use more keyboards, but it never thinks these mixtures through to the point where any of the elements amount to something substantial. The problem actually isn't the higher prominence of keyboards, but rather that the keyboards are derivative for two reasons: they don't experiment with sounds and they usually mimic the guitar chords. In other words, 75% of the time they add nothing to the song, which is ridiculous to use a classically-trained pianist like that. Marta is at least able to show a little sonic and technical flair here and there, like on "Starving Vultures" or "Walking Dead", but further implementing keys should imply more counterpoint and more goings on.. but oh well.

Atmosphere is something the band used to actualize pretty well up to Declaration, and actually it never hurt their shorter songs so that is not the problem with the shorter tracks here even. The most obvious issue is that the guitars don't utilize the whole guitar; two guitarists can cover lots of audial realms alone but here they generally stay low-end. The drum sound is also too mechanized, especially the double bass, which hurts this even more. There is a happy medium between echoey bass and toms and still having them be powerful at high speeds. The choruses, such as the generic harmonies and progression of "Trail of Seclusion" or "The Devil and Self Doubt", seem rather rushed and less inspiring than anything in their past. Strangely enough, the movement to short songs can symbolize how the band seemingly rushed through this whole process. Besides all aforesaid as evidence, why would "Deaf Ear" and "One by One" end exactly the same way?

While nonetheless a stronger record than the instantly forgettable self-titled record, Bleeding Through have to start thinking about who they want to be and what they want their music to say because right now it's not saying much of anything. They don't need to focus so much on their heaviness; they've covered that in their past and can surely incorporate it in different ways. Lyrically, it's their most "hardcore-credo" record, which is the best positive I can give it next to using diverse keyboard sounds. They also don't need to simplify their material as seen here; allow the different layers to play apart, make their own statements, and come together. If they're happy with this lack of direction than that's their prerogative but I will arrogantly project that they would be a stronger band the more they step away from the same old.

Track Listing
1. The March
2. Faith in Fire
3. Goodbye to Death
4. Final Hours
5. Starving Vultures
6. Everything You Love Is Gone
7. Walking Dead
8. The Devil and Self Doubt
9. Step Back in Line
10. Trail of Seclusion
11. Deaf Ears
12. One by One
13. Entrenched
14. Back to Life

Added: April 2nd 2012
Reviewer: Danny Heater
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 961
Language: english

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