Review Summary: A Solid Return To Form For The O.C Metalcore Sextet.
Since their last release ‘The Truth’, Bleeding Through has gone through a slight upheaval. One of the founding members of the band, guitarist Scott Danough, was fired from the band, and the band split from their record label.
Despite these setbacks, the band recruited a new guitarist (Jona Weinhofen. ex-I Killed The Prom Queen) and began working on new their fourth full length, ‘Declaration’.
The album as a whole is a step backward musically by the band. Aiming for a rawer and heavier sound, as opposed to the polished riffs and harmonies seen on The Truth. Having said this there are still moments where harmonies are used to great effect.
The album begins with a harmonic keyboard intro which then transcends into a choir “aaahhs”/chanting section performed by keyboardist Marta.
This basically serves as setting the scene for the album and gives an anticipatory air. The intro ends with a sample from the movie 300 “Tonight, We Dine In Hell!” and lurches straight in to first proper track which also happens to be the title track.
From the first riff in the track it is clear that the band is trying to be heavier. The riff mixed with the blast beat drumming and keyboards give the song a black metal-ish feel. The band still utilises breakdowns. The one used in ‘Declaration’ fits very well and isn’t overused.
During the title track the listener is made aware of the improvement vocalist Brandon Schieppati has made. Both his heavy vocals and clean singing voice have been improved.
However the album does suffer from his mediocre lyric writing. The songs all cover aspects of living on the road and being away from loved ones etc. These lyrics do suit the band’s style but it would benefit the band if they branched out.
'Decalaration' gives a good idea of what to expect from this album.
The second track ‘Orange County Blonde And Blue’ is a quick paced track which only lasts just over two minutes and is similar in style to the track ‘Sweet Vampirous’ on the band’s second album ‘This Is Love, This Is Murderous’. Overall this track is good but has nothing that really stands out, however it follows the style of older Bleeding through material so is an easy listen.
The next track ‘Germany’ is a combination of the two previous tracks. Similar riffing and drums patterns with little vocal variation. However there is a short solo halfway through the song which hints at Jona’s part in the band. There isn’t really much to say about this track. It is solid but offers nothing new apart from the solo, but it does show that the new guitarist features a prominent role in the writing of the album.
‘There Was A Flood’ is where some variation is brought to the album.
It begins with a slow fade in which leads to a melodic clean strumming riff. This goes on for about 30 seconds then transfers to a distorted version. The stand out point of this intro is the keyboards that Marta adds. They really help to emphasise the intro and makes it interesting due to the lack of vocals.
Unfortunately after the intro the track turns into standard Bleeding Through riffs and vocals. The midsection chorus helps to showcase fully Brandon’s improvement in clean singing. The track follows the same pattern of heavy riffs then going into the clean vocals and ends on a held note.
This track has both positive and negative aspects. It has some variation in its structure and also helps to show the improvement in the bands vocals, but it suffers from other sections which rely on standard metalcore riffs and is therefore not as good as it could be if it had been given more thought.
The next two tracks ‘French Inquisition’ and ‘Reborn From Isolation’ follow the same pattern as previous tracks so there is nothing really new shown. However they are very quick, dense and give no space for the listener to relax. Of the two tracks the latter is the most memorable as it again features a solo by Jona. The solo is pretty well constructed and features some good technique and helps to break up the song.
Track eight ‘Death Anxiety’ is another highlight of the album and the lyrics focus on Brandon’s fear of death. This track again features some of BT’s heavier riffing and is backed up by decent drumming. The reduced use of keyboards in this track help to make it more intense and heavier feeling. Again there are some clean vocals in which Brandon performs well and is backed by the return of Marta’s keyboards. These two aspects of the band work well when combined together.
The following track ‘The Loving Memory Of England’ is short and mainly instrumental. There are some clean vocals by Brandon but they are mixed to fade in and out. This track is very much an interlude used to break up the album and give the listener a break and something different to listen to. It really isn’t a very worthwhile track and could have been left off the album.
After the interlude track the album heads into its last three tracks.
The first of these, ‘Beneath The Grey’ again reminds the listener of Bleeding Through’s ability to write mediocre and forgettable songs. Whilst being decent it really has nothing that hasn’t been heard before and this lets it down.
The main standout of the track is the solo section which closing the song. A combination of tapping and sweeping and scale runs helps to produce a solo that livens up an otherwise dull song. If there was no solo added at the end of the song I really the track would have been better left off the album.
This is the action that should been taken with the following track ‘Seller’s Market’ which at just over two and a half minutes is a carbon copy of the previous track but devoid of any redeeming features. The breakdowns used are nothing that hasn’t already been used countless times by other bands; overall this song is one of the weakest on the album and should have been left as a demo in the studio.
The album’s final track ‘Sister Charlatan’ really is its redemption.
The intro is one of the best moments on the album. It starts with a clean riff and some pained violin strains and comes to a climax with orchestra strains and some chorus “ahhs”. It then drops into a fast tremolo-ish riff teamed with some ride bell blasts. Brandon’s vocals sound vicious and he is clearly on the attack.
This track sounds much more alive and focused than the two previous ones and is refreshing to hear. At nearly nine minutes it is intended to be the epic of the album and this is perfectly complimented by the chorus singing by Brandon, which while not flawless is very impressive and much better than seen on ‘Line In The Sand’ on ‘The Truth’. The midsection of the track is also very good, it features a breakdown in the background, whilst over the top is some very good keyboard playing by Marta which is unexpected and brings new life to the song.
The following solo section is very well executed and the band clearly benefit from the addition of the new guitarist. The rest of the song follows the same structure as before the mid section and the end of the track closes the album with the sound of rain falling and some sombre piano playing.
Overall Bleeding through have produced a very good follow up to their last album, considering the problems they were faced with prior to recording. The addition of Jona has clearly bough a new side to the band’s sound yet still maintains the band’s signature style. All of the instruments are performed and mix well.
The most notable performances being Brandon’s vocals, Marta’s keyboards and Derek Youngsma’s drums, which while whilst providing nothing innovative. fit perfectly and when combined with the bass provide a very good rhythm back for the vocals
However there are still some weak points on the album where tracks suffer from mediocre riffs which suggest that the band were to as committed to them as they could have been. It is a definite improvement from the previous release and promises great things for the band’s future work.