Review Summary: Heavily influenced by symphonic metal, Bleeding Through construct the most respectable and thought provoking CD of their discography with Declaration.
Declaration is a grower. While The Truth and even This Is Love, This Is Murderous were piss-poor attempts at modern metalcore and made little use of the competent Marta, Declaration is a coming of age tale for Bleeding Through. Gone are the gimmicks, the general vibe of immaturity, and the background noise Marta used to provide. With Bleeding Through's self-titled bringing the band back down to metalcore's sad, bland reality, this CD was the epitome of what the band could have (and should have) been.
Mose of the lyrical content in Declaration focuses on general disdain of Trustkill Records stemming from the label's unpaid royalties to the band. While he might be beating a dead horse a little bit by only focusing on that, Brandan also finds an interesting way of filling the void by giving narratives of how the band fared and felt in different locations around the world (I.E. "Germany," "French Inquisition," "The Loving Memory Of England"). While maybe not completely original, he does a great job of bringing an element to metalcore that the genre as a whole has been severely lacking lately: emotion. Brandan's grating scream has vastly improved on this CD, as he now utilizes a very high and above-average black metal-influenced tone as well. The singing has also greatly improved, as Brandan and bass player Ryan trade off melodies in the blistering "Death Anxiety." Ryan also shines in the epic closer "Sister Charlatan," which is an above average track even outside of the genre. Even if this CD doesn't hit the nerve it did with me, even if you think it's nothing new, at least listen to that one track.
Devin Townsend (engineer, producer) makes Declaration shine from a production standpoint. While The Truth sounded very raw, Declaration is a slick and well produced CD that also manages to stay away from the gimmicks and fake sound of modern metalcore CD's these days. The drum tones achieved perfectly compliment the upbeat and heavy music tonality, and fills and kick rolls don't get lost in themselves or sound muddy, even at the fastest points of the record. Marta's keys and strings are utilized extremely well on Declaration, especially on "Declaration," "Sister Charlatan," and "There Was A Flood." Four stringed musicians (two violins, one cello, and one viola player) also round out the ensemble.
There aren't too many negatives to Declaration. If I had to nitpick, the guitars CAN get occasionally lost in the mix, especially during the string-heavy passages of "Declaration" and "Sister Charlatan." Some of the weaker tracks on the record are not coincidentally the most standard metalcore tracks, including "Reborn From Isolation" and "Beneath The Gray." While Brandan's vocals ALMOST save those songs from mediocrity, in large doses it is still not enough. The drums can also stray towards the clicky sounding on blast-beat passages and faster 32nd note double kick rolls, which in itself may not be a bad thing for all listeners, but may be if you like exclusively natural sounding records.
Overall, Declaration was a huge step up for the Orange County, CA band. While Bleeding Through has sunk back down to mediocrity with their self-titled, Declaration was a huge step up for the sextet and showed what they could have been. With stand out tracks such as "Germany," "Declaration," and "Sister Charlatan," Bleeding Through showed they could have been very respectable in their genre and scene for many years to come. Here's to hoping they return to form, and soon, before they are lost forever with the countless other metalcore bands.