Review Summary: Not to rest on their laurels, together we reject obliteration.Nightmare Withdrawals
still feels like yesterday. It’s not yesterday though. It is, in fact, today. More specifically though, it is now, and Blindfolded And Led To The Woods’ sophomore (disregarding everything before Nightmare Withdrawals
to maintain my scope of being introduced to this band there and there only), Rejecting Obliteration
is here! Golly. Stop rambling Rob, you’re already late. Get your *** together! Like Blindfolded And Led To The Woods? No silly. Like a person who’s not going to write this review as if they were madly having a conversation with themself…
Oh. But we’re kind of committed are we not?
I guess, but we should probably at least provide some background information before the reader puts as much distance between themselves and this review as possible. I mean, Blindfolded And Led To The Woods are from New Zealand, home as other contemporaries like Ulcerate, Diocletian, Dawn Of Azazel and The Lord Of The Rings. There is most definitely something in the water. Something that produces quality metal bands that produce top-tier quality music. In this respect, Blindfolded And Led To The Woods are more akin to the brand of avant and expressive brand of death metal produced by Ulcerate and yet, Rejecting Obliteration
is completely individual to the band who debuted Nightmare Withdrawals
in 2021. This identity is a cocktail, shaken, not stirred combining the more digestible ingredients across the metal palette. That is to say, listeners can expect hefty doses of death metal, spidery leads and dissonant noises across the chaosphere, but Rejecting Obliteration
’s true nuance is found by unpacking its more technical tropes into an amalgamation of thrashing moments, core-influence and innate, enteric shifts from one soundscape into many. In part, this sounds disconnected, adverse to ears not quite ready for the off-kilter and uncoupling stop starts this album possesses.
“Monolith”, Rejecting Obliteration
’s opener is an example in tumult and progressive melody. It’s introduction speaks directly to a fan who enjoys Ulcerate as much as a Crack The Skye
-era Mastodon. The track itself however is a hulking example of modern death metal done right. As visceral and jagged as Blindfolded And Led To The Woods is, it’s the melody and solo work of guitarists, Stuart Henley-Minchington and Ben Atkinson which envelopes the more domesticated dissonance found beneath. It’s a cliche, but it really does bring the entirety of “Monolith” together while Stace Fifield’s anguished shouts and deep growls define the album’s larger moods. “Methlehem” ups the intensity—intense riffs snake and crash through Stace’s shouts while rapid-fire drums twist and chop the tempo. The song’s closing moments are manic. Whirring noises drown out the rest of the band into one of the quickest song fades you’ll likely hear on a death metal record, jarring the listeners conscious into a state of unreadiness before “Hallucinative Terror” mellows with a sombre, melodious introduction. From there, it’s a deep-dive: winding, snake rhythms take us on one of the album’s more lateral and heavier avant garde rides. The shifts here are more prominent, more jarring but undeniably cohesive as a whole. This is where Rejecting Obliteration
really starts to come together, mixing of expected heaviness and unpredictable progressiveness into a molten pot of near death metal perfection.
From there, Rejecting Obliteration
moves from strength to strength. It’s titular track helps define Blindfolded And Led To The Woods as a mainstay of the death metal genre and yet another premier act from New Zealand. That said this album is more impressive as a whole than just the sum of its parts. “Rejecting Obliteration” is heavy
, as in please use two hands and a knee brace heavy. Stace’s growls sound downright demonic atop a bedrock of devastatingly a-typical death metal while melancholia bleeds from the track’s lyricism. “Rejecting Obliteration” feels heart-wrenching and dystopian while being pensive enough to allow the listener full immersion. It’s clear that Blindfolded And Led To The Woods has not been idle since Nightmare Withdrawals
“Wraith” and “Cicada” are equally impressive slabs of death metal. The former leans heavily into the melodicism and atmosphere while the latter crashes and tumults its entire length. These tracks (like the ones before them) rely heavily on the clash and dichotomy, jarring the rhythms and feeling until it becomes cohesive again. The real turner here however is “The Waves” and its ability to be as ferocious as the rest of the record but also be that gentle breath in and out and lighter touch. Similarly, the band’s more progressive tendencies shine through the closer, “Caustic Burns” and its catapulting lurch of ladder melodies and whirlwind riffs. Blindfolded And Led To The Woods take this record’s last moments and continue to define themselves as powerhouse songwriters, adept musicians and forward thinkers all at once. Blindfolded And Led To The Woods haven't just met the standard of modern death metal, they've surpassed their debut (which is no mere feat). Say what you will about the death metal genre stagnating or becoming oversaturated, because Blindfolded And Led To The Woods are defying it all, they’re simply rejecting obliteration