Due to popular demand, I'm changing the first paragraph of this review. The term "hardcore" is still being used throughout, mainly because I'm not a fan of putting bands in sub-sub-sub-genres. Also, the Purevolume link works at the bottom now, so you can check out this band. in action.
The Bled may not be a standout band from the next heavy and angsty band, but they have certainly gained fans and respect over the past few years thanks to impressive slots on tours, including the Warped Tour, and previous albums and EP's. Progressive, chaotic and melodic rhythms flowed through the speakers in their debut album Pass The Flask
, which can easily be labelled as one of the best albums of 2003 in my eyes. Now, 2 years on, The Bled are set to unleash their Vagrant debut on the world with this beauty.
"Hotel Coral Essex" slowly sucks you into the album, with a quickly-changing pace and heavy vibe to the music. James' voice roars into your ears, and the combination of dual vocals works incredibly against the ever-changing mood of music. "Guttershark" is a more aggressive song, quite simply pounding metallic melodies out with vicious screams. Not my favourite song, but for a song of this nature, it works very well.
We move onto "My Assassin", demonstrating The Bled's melodic side more as James sings the best he can and the music seems very mainstream in the chorus and bridge. It's probably the most radio-friendly Bled song you will listen to, but nevertheless, it sounds hard-hitting.
The next song, "Antarctica", is more progressive and experimental for the band, providing a mood of calmness and an almost relaxed feel to the album. James' singing voice is once again "shown off" here, and even though his voice isn't they most beautiful, it fits the trippy music to the song. Almost a certainty then, that this slow and downbeat track leads into "She Calls Home", another harsh anthem demonstrating furious screams and riffs that The Bled are known for. "The Last American Cowboy" continues this controlled-chaos that shows off their harder songwriting abilities.
Creativity once again shines in "Daylight Bombings", with a clean guitar melody and James' soft voice leading into another soft track. It seems like The Bled is showing off a side to them we never knew about, a side which wants to develop as a songwriter. Don't be worried, it contains a fairly heavy chorus and outro, reminding you of the reason you love this band.
"Millionaires" is another technical song, throwing in some surprising synth effects into the mix to just add to this band's beasty sounds and fast pace. "With An Urgency" feels like it's stuck between the band's 2 sides, and it doesn't feel that good. The song has something missing, with the same old guitar riffs and gimmicks (Harmonics again?) in it.
We end this with "I Don't Keep With Liars Anymore", a song which is pretty much The Bled in a nutshell. It's vicious and heavy riffs, powerful and sometimes frightening screams and occasional little licks of fast distorted notes make this a perfect ender to their sophomore effort. It ends so quietly and calmly, and after a full 28 minutes, leads into a hidden track. I don't want to give it away, but it's quite a nice treat to fans of their newer work.
The Bled haven't been a band who make their music for the fans really. Their 2003 release wasn't exactly the most anticipated when it came out, but their songwriting abilities have impressed fans around the globe, and that's probably why this will be well received too. It is more polished, and in some cases, completely different to what The Bled are good at. But they pull off every aspect of this album with gracefulness and sheer amazement.