Review Summary: Blessed by the Groove
If 2016’s Seeing Hell
merely gazed into the abyssal depths, then Blessed by the Burn
plunges headfirst into the inferno. Fresh on the heels of their full-length debut, Left Behind return one year later with another thick slice of southern-fried metalcore. Blessed by the Burn
smothers its listeners with chunky sludge-laden grooves and hammering breakdowns. Vocalist Zachary Hatfield’s personal, and at times, heart-wrenching lyrics coupled with his ferocious delivery make this album one of the year’s most potent metal releases.
Blessed by the Burn
stampedes through ten songs of hardcore meets southern-fried metal in a brisk thirty minutes. “Focus on the Flesh” opens with an almost danceable rhythm before the bass segues the song into its crushing doomier segment. Sinister riffs pulsate through “Paranoid” and smolder into a sluggish landslide. The album’s title track encapsulates the finest of what Left Behind has to offer; gravelly basslines and crisp percussion navigate through torrents of glorious Crowbar-esque sludge.
Hatfield’s vulnerable lyricism envelopes these songs in a suffocating smog of hopelessness and heartache. Throughout the album, Hatfield recounts the process of coming to terms with his girlfriend’s suicide and learning of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father leading up to that point. “Tough Love” snarls with unbridled rage (“you should have been the one to die”), while “Scarred Soul” somberly reflects upon her passing (“sometimes I think I died and this is hell / my soul is with you / all that’s here is the shell”).
Left Behind does not compromise quality on their sophomore album. The band polishes their formula and funnels their strengths into a more focused and gripping effort. Blessed by the Burn
effectively fuses headbang-inducing grooves and soul-crushing subject matter to craft one of this year's heaviest and most compelling releases.