Review Summary: The Power of Growl compels you.
If “Christian metal” and “Christian hardcore” have always been a bit of an ambiguous label, with many bands torn on whether to emphasise or de-emphasise their faith, Victory Records debutantes With Blood Comes Cleansing leave no room for interpretation. The lyrics to their second full-length Horror
, posted in full on their MySpace profile weeks before the album’s official release replete with scriptural directions, deal explicitly and unambiguously with Christ’s holy sacrifice.
Fans are invited to study the words and sing along at live performances. They’ll have no shortage of opportunities to be sure- one of metal’s hardest working bands quite literally sweat blood to reach every corner of North America several times over- but one has to imagine singing along is a task that’s easier said than done. Frontman Dean Atkinson, taking over from Mike Sasser, who left shortly after the recording of Golgotha
, tirelessly trades low guttural moans, high-pitched squeals and brutal hardcore chants with only the occasional melodic moment. And while his bestial growls occasionally tip the balance beyond the point of ridicule, his dynamic recycling of styles keeps his delivery fresh, even if it’s more often than not impossible to make out what he’s saying.
The twin-guitar (Jeremy Sims and Scott Erickson) and bass (Dennis Frazier) attack is as an important feature of the band’s sound, as the three eschew typical “heaviness” in favour of a combined sludge effect that echoes Atkinson’s doomy low-end. And while they cycle between droning Sabbath-esque effects, harmonised leads and thrash-infused horse-trot riffage, the main stylistic impetus behind the music is drummer Matt Fidler for it is he above all else who influences which style each track can be said to fit into. ‘Blood And Fire’ boasts throat-shredding death growls and harmonised riffing, but more than anything it’s a hardcore track, mainly as a result of Fidler’s furious 2/2 pounding, and this is acknowledged with two distinct breakdowns as the track progresses.
Yet for all their attempts to vary the sound, Horror
just sounds a little too same-ish in parts. Although only thirty minutes long, over twelve tracks there are too few standout moments to warrant an over-the-top reaction. The lyrics are thoughtful, evocative and well-written, particularly when they shed light upon the human side of Christ on the cross, but they’re lamentably difficult to make out in real-time, and the task isn’t made an awful lot easier when presented with the lyrics in written form. If With Blood Comes Cleansing were able to pull together a few more tracks like the thrilling ‘Carnivorous Consumption’ (the longest track on the album at 3:41 and Matt Fidler’s most expressive performance), Horror
might be worthy of a higher grade, but as is their Victory Records debut is merely a creditable update of the transcendence hinted at with Golgotha
Full album stream: http://www.victorstream.com/