Review Summary: The good news is that it’s relentless chugging for forty minutes. The bad news is that it’s not much more than that.
You know, when a band is unfortunate enough to lose three of its five members all in one go, that’s usually a strong indication to call it a day. Surviving members of The Bled, singer James Muñoz and guitarist Jeremy Talley, however, decided to trek on by recruiting some fresh faces. Looking to build on their new-found aggression and mathy elements introduced on their previous release, do the newcomers bring some unique ideas and forward progression to the band’s fourth full length, Heat Fetish
, or was The Bled better peacefully riding off into the sunset?
As a long-time fan of the band, I have some very good and very bad news about Heat Fetish
. The good news is that the album is probably the band’s heaviest offering since their 2003 debut Pass The Flask
, as the album boasts a slew of relentless chugging, off-center breakdowns and choppy, weaving structures. The album’s opener, “Devolver”, is a good indication of what’s to come: jagged guitar leads, unorthodox progression and an anything-goes parade of swirling, menacing guitar riffs. It’s exciting to hear that the band has taken the tired post-hardcore formula and jazzed it up with their own components of math and metalcore, resulting in a product that’s truly all their own.
And while this may be exciting to hear, and it certainly good to see that the band hasn’t missed a step, the bad news is that the rest of Heat Fetish
is simply “Devolver” over and over and over and over (and over and over and over) again. I really hate when people accuse an entire album of sounding the same, but this is painfully true of Heat Fetish
: whereas The Bled really had a lot of emphasis on lead guitar melody and vocal hooks on previous releases, these elements are unfortunately absent this time around, and the result is just forty minutes of detuned rhythm guitar. I’ve really enjoyed The Bled’s previous ability to create a hook in the middle of a heavy song, but without any semblance of a melodic guitar hook or vocal line or chorus, what’s left is the band just trying to crush your head like a paper cup with mindless chugging. And let me tell you, that gets real
But what’s most painful about Heat Fetish
is that the songs aren’t terrible by any means, it’s just that they all seem really uninspired when they all run together. On individual listens, the standouts would have to be the aforementioned “Devolver”, along with “Mouthbreather”, “Smoke Breaks” and “Needs New Conspirators”, simply because they contain heavier sections that actually sound inspired. And while it’s true that songs such as “Crawling Home” and “Meet Me In The Born Orchard” both have quieter, breathable sections, they’re not substantial or luxurious enough to enjoy in contrast of the chaos. Again, I can’t really claim that any song is bad, but they all sound so similar that it makes Heat Fetish
nearly impossible to get through in one go.
So Heat Fetish
, despite having three new members on board, is probably the stalest offering the band has produced. Without any desire to step outside of the box, the album quickly gets bland due to the onslaught of indistinguishable riffs, and it’s frustrating to think that the band doesn’t try to give you anything more. The fans looking for a parade of muddy, pummeling riffs will absolutely get their money’s worth here on Heat Fetish
, but fans that enjoyed the melodic sensibilities of The Bled’s previous efforts will hope the band gets a little more creative the next time around.