It is so rare to find an album in the post-hardcore genre that just completely wears off. Usually the solid guitar riffs, unique vocals, and generally diverse sounds of bands in that genre keep me coming back for more. That was the case for me until I came across The Bled
on my playlist the other day. I recall ten months ago when I used to listen to a good portion of this record on a somewhat regular basis. It was unique, which I liked, and could go from chaotic to melodic in seconds. Than things began to slowly fade away and I did not listen to it for many months. I ended up coming across it the other day, and tried to revive it with a few listens. After some a little more analysis and thinking, plenty of aspects in the record became clearer and the big picture was finally visible instead of just sections of it; this album is an experiment, not for music necessarily, but for the band and their future.
From the first guttural screams the listener will notice the unique scream of frontman James Munoz. It is a mix of a yell and a scream, in some cases becoming throatier than others. His vocals on that end are easily one of the most important aspects of the album, as they often create the proper move. Singing wise things are a completely different case. On plenty of the more melodic songs James does a great deal of singing, a great deal more than he really should. Simply put he does not have a very strong singing voice. It is satisfactory in the case that it can be sprinkled into choruses but when he attempts to tackle almost an entire song things turn disastrous. His singing lacks passion and emotion plenty of times, despite the fact that he can stay on key most of the time. His transitions however are done very smoothly throughout the majority of the record, which ties into the fact that the band as a whole is filled with solid song writers. Often times things will take a turn into a variety of sections. Melodic interludes, tempo changes, and a handful of breakdowns all come out. The guitarists can find an appropriate riff for many situations, and half the time will not even repeat riffs. On the flip side, when things do repeat it is a bit of a let down, as we all know the band is capable of more. The Bled
have a tendency to mix heavier elements with the melodic traits, but also focus on individual aspects throughout some songs. By the end of the record, their strengths and weakness are revealed to say the least.
The lovely mix of heavier and melodic sounds is shown right away from the opener Hotel Coral Essex
as James pounds out the first few lines after a slow clean intro with a chorus effect. It is the perfect intro for the record as it is not a faux-dramatic and filler screaming intro track, rather a nicely constructed build up for the opening song. Things pick up right away leading into an intense verse before slowing up a bit around the chorus. Guitar riffs persist throughout the song, always sounding new and interesting. Once more the heavier verse returns with nicely done progressions. The only low point of the song is the singing during the bridge. It really sticks out as weak in that one little section but does not bring the song down as a whole. Once more a completely different riff comes out during the outro. Guitarists Jeremy and Ross show their imagination and creativity throughout the song as no riff really repeats. For an introduction to the record and the band, things do not get much better than the opener. The first single My Assassin
also mixes a wide range of sounds. If there is a song where the singing prevails, this is the one. There a very few sour parts and James’ voice really fits things during the verse and chorus. The tiny guitar lead during the chorus with a weird chorus/reverb effect really hits a high note due to its superb placement. A very unique atmosphere is set in as a result of it and makes the chorus very memorable. The interlude is a mid-tempo segment with bass being heard in the rhythm section. Right as things seem to be fading away screaming cuts through providing a wonderful mood change. The chorus repeats once again, as this is one of the more predictable songs structure wise if you will. However, this remains a successful outing proving how well the band can mix these elements with their own unique traits over it all.
Since James has such a wonderful scream, one would guess the heavier songs would be the real crown jewel of the record. Surprisingly this is not the case. The second track Guttershark
sounds like a spasm of noise in plenty of cases. Things are just non-stop chaos for sections at a time and to be honest it sounds like the band was trying too hard here. Respect is given for the fact that they can keep time while changing the tempo and riffs at a rapid pace, but after awhile the frenzy provides a headache, not joy. There is also a specific change to singing over a soft bridge which sounds completely forced. With the focus on heaviness, this song ends up way under-par. Thankfully things are somewhat redeemed later on as The Last American Cowboy
comes through. There is a bit of a chaotic atmosphere found here, but it is far more controlled and welcome due to its restriction. Guitar wise there is a great deal to like here as riffs come hard and often, but manage to change so they do not become tedious. Things begin to drag about halfway through the song as things begin to become a little repetitive. There is no surprise turn into a different section, and for the most part the rest of the song is very predictable. However, they did what they were going for above average and this is possibly the highlight of the heavy focused section of the record.
A shocker in a way, the slower and melodic pieces happen to be some of the longest on Found in Flood
falls just short of the six minute mark as it opens with a minute and a half plus of a slow clean guitar piece. For the first part of it things sound very distant, far away, and just plain boring to be honest. This lengthy intro was really not necessary at all. During the first verse things stay soft with James singing quietly over the moderate tempo piece. Once more things become a little tedious, even when the song does begin to pick up. This song is a stand out but unfortunately it is for all of the wrong reasons. It can be called a bit of an experimental song for the band, but this song definitely did not need to be as long as it is. Another noticeable softer tune of the record is Daylight Bombings
which opens with a nicely done clean riff and James singing over it. The guitar tone is very cool sounding and the melody is absolutely beautiful. The singing sounds very nice throughout the intro and sets in a bit of an eerie mood. While some distortion comes out during the chorus, things stay at a very moderate speed. During the second verse James begins to sound a bit awkward. His overall delivery just begins to lack and it seems as though he is ignoring his limit. Due to a bit of a let down vocally and nothing but repetitive sections, this song begins to go downhill. The last minute of so of the song pulls it out of its drought, as a very nicely done breakdown comes out along with a neat guitar riff. While the middle section drags, Daylight Bombings
is the most successfully done melodic based piece.
Well if it is not obvious by now, The Bled
’s strength lies when they mix the melodic and heavy elements together. It seems that when they focus on mainly one, the song either serves up a headache or boredom. Of course there are exceptions to this, but as a whole, things sound much better when there is an established mix of the two. Throughout the duration of the album, a lot of ground is covered. Clearly the band likes to experiment with its sound and is not satisfied in making an album that sounds the same. However, with risk comes potential danger and in this case comes under-par songs. Credit is definitely deserved by the band as they really are trying to create something different. Plenty of tracks show their potential and imagination, while others are a bit lacking. Thinking a bit deeper into the situation, this might be the record The Bled
needed to create to see what they will do in the future. With an eclectic range of sounds, they might be experimenting with the trial and error method here. The result is a balance of both success and failure. Do not get a negative impression as this is still a good record. That aside, there is obviously loads of potential here and the future can quite possibly hold even more success for The Bled
if stronger identity is acquired. Once they realize their strengths and take full advantage of them, something very memorable will be created. While Found In Flood
is not that record, it is a step in the right direction toward it and a preview of what the future can hold for the band.
Final Rating: 3/5