Review Summary: Not enough blood was shed for this album.
Ever since Ringworm and Integrity tore their way out from their mother's womb, many metalcore bands have tried (and failed) to expand the boundaries of this genre. Such is the case with Blood Has Been Shed's sophomore release. While not as chaotic as many of their peers, their music is focused on creating a sound that is an angular lead weight dripping with the blood of dead lovers. Focused but never achieving.
This album is potent in its ability to create aggression. The riffs of Corey Unger and the drumming of John Lynch are a constant line of changing rhythms and tempos, employing the stop-start rhythm and repetitive riffing used by their forebears. However while the frenetic nature of this album is engaging, there are few points of interest where the instruments are played with any skill. Most of the techniques that are employed, such as the downward spiralling riffs upon "Intervention", have been used before and built upon by other bands as well as the repetition used can dull the impact the instruments have upon the listener, the drums being played with a single monotonous beat while the guitars fall into an annoying chug. However it is not to say that the instruments don't have their moments of impact. The first and best of the songs "Wetwork" illustrate this technical ability best with drum rhythms and guitar riffs that are both energetic and skillfully played. There is a thoughtfulness, originality and, more importantly, a sense of enjoyment to this song; elements that are lacking within the rest of the album. Upon these foundations, "Wetwork" should have established their own unique sound for the album to follow but unfortunately Blood Has Been Shed fall well back into their own comfort zone.
The embracing and enfolding of new instrumentation into their sound is a loose end. The choice of instrumentation is random with the utilisation of unusual instruments such as the bagpipes and their application is haphazard, "Candlelight Vigil's" bagpipe instrumental disrupts the descent that characterises this album. It is proven that new instruments can work well within the band's formula, the cello of "Wetwork" intertwining and guiding Corey Unger's guitar work while providing an emotive backdrop to Howard Jones' screams, but their sloppy use only adds unneeded excess to the music of this album. Perhaps this would be a little excusable if this album didn't suffer from terrible production. It smothers this album in a thick, crimson smog, nearly destroying the bass and blending the drums and guitar into a haze. This fog does not render these instruments un-listenable but does mollify their impact. This combination of both predictable songwriting and poor production drags The Novella of Uriel
down significantly, something that is compounded by the lyrical content.
The lyrics he espouses are wallowing in cliché. While there are moments of lyrical intelligence, lines from "And A Seraphim Cries" such as "But still I ignore what exhumes/And destroys my trust/And I walk this precipice and I fear the fall" are reminiscent of the poetry of William Cowper, the lyrics dwell mostly upon the same, overused symbolism. The imagery of nails digging into the skin and bloodied reflections upon the floor are trite, unoriginal and near beaten into the ground in the band's attempted exploration into relationships however Howard Jones' vocals give substance to the shallow words. His high-pitched screams of "I am alive!" upon "Wetwork" and the melancholic singing upon "Intervention" contrast with the heavy pit of the other instruments and raise the lyrics up onto an emotional pedestal. The vocals are fuelled with a despair that bridges the difference between the instruments and acts as a sole unifier of all the elements of the album. Even the shoddy production cannot totally neuter their emotional strength but this is just one part of the whole. If the album were to be a truly cohesive effort then every other element must live up to the same caliber that the vocals are yet they cannot. The album is not unfocused but the generic songwriting and lyrical content, the muddied production and the listless experimentation weigh the album down significantly.
It is a shame overall as these are faults that could have been corrected if more attention was paid. Perhaps it was budget restraints and the pressure of the record label played significant parts in The Novella of Uriel's
downfall. The production certainly provides ample evidence for these reasons however they provide little to compensate for the potential that this album displayed. It could have been, should have been a technically and emotionally powerful example of metalcore. The result though is a wasted effort, one that could have been so much more but ultimately comes across as uninspired and boring.