Review Summary: An album that borders on excellence; held back by some errors they made in their choice of style this time around.
"Found in the Flood" is an album that borders on excellence; sometimes making it there in leaps and bounds and sometimes straying too far from their roots to be dignified as the same band.
From their debut entitled "Pass the Flask" one could say they have come a long way. In terms of originality? Found in the Flood is an album that puts intriguing spins on some old, heavier song archetypes. I believe the album to be unique; the vocals, the guitar, the eclectic transitions? It's all there; but to achieve a name that was not to be thrown amongst the 'normal' crowd, it had to sacrifice a few of the things that made me love The Bled in the first place.
Often times reviews are made to bash a band for straying from its roots or to commend it for finding its sound. My opinion on the change from "Pass the Flask" to "Found in the Flood" is almost at a neutral balance because of the changes they made which I am adamant about, and the things they set aside which sadden me.
What did this band do right the first time? "Pass the Flask" was a technical monster of drop chords and banshee shrieks. There are people to this day that consider "Red Wedding" (track 1 off of "Pass the Flask") to have one of the most rewarding breakdowns in metal/hardcore/whatever bloody genre history. "Pass the Flask" was noisy, witty, and genuinely ridiculous. It was played from stereos at full volume. Pillow fights ensued because of it; and songs like "Sound of Sulfur" found a place in my memory. And then came "Found in the Flood," my immediate reaction was ecstatic. I heard "Hotel Coral Essex" (track one) and noted first of all that they had broadened their chord horizons. They certainly were not limited to breakdowns and there are songs on the album such as the bland (to some, not so bland) "Antarctica" which builds up to nothing at all.
The album was then viewed as a typical sophomore release. All too common is it that bands start of heavy and then take a spin and showcasing the more delicate aspects of their music. However, what makes "Found in the Flood" differ from most sophomore released of the same general category is that this time; softening up in some places made the breakdowns all more rewarding.
"Daylight Bombings" is a song that takes its time; but once reaching the last forty-five seconds it scrutinizes all previous harmony and melody in exchange for what I believe to be the band's most brutal breakdown to date. Songs like "Millionaires" and "With an Urgency" hit you in the face so fast with chord progressions much more unexpected and thrash-oriented than the majority of "Pass the Flask" material (which was heavy, sure, but nothing to gawk at in terms of straying the boundaries of the genre).
And then there were songs like "My Assassin" (my least favorite song because of its almost pop-like melody, too big of a stretch for me personally) and "The Last American Cowboy," which featured little to no screaming although still bringing in the low chords to put a spin on what could otherwise be categorized as...Well, something not very good. And yet, throughout all the new ingenuity they faceted, through all the chances they had to completely rock my face off, there was and is one factor that ruined "Found in the Flood"'s chances for lasting success.
It's happened before; it will continue to happen. Bands 'evolve' and decide that they want to not only increase their horizons instrumentally, but vocally as well. All too often this is a mistake, and in most (most is the key word, since there are the selection of songs that make the vocals shine brightly) cases the vocals are what turn a heavy song into a 'kind of sort of heavy' song.
The vocals just feel lackluster here. Sometimes they make sense with the melodies and sometimes the vocalist returns to the shrieking cries (much higher pitched this time around) of their former record which make me smile. The majority of the time? They're 'good' for what they are, but they aren't 'good' for the music. Really, beyond the obvious displacement of some vocal-melody combinations, the record is not at all a digression from evolution; and I believe that with vocals that harp back to their former shrillness, and perhaps not toying with pop riffs so much? The next record could very well be perfect. "Found in the Flood" is not. It is a prototype of what they could sound like later on. With any luck, patching up their errors and remembering where they started, they could indeed be among the best for times to come.
Not yet my friends.