Bleeding Through - Declaration
Trustkill Records
11 songs (44:48)
Release year: 2008
Bleeding Through, Trustkill Records
Reviewed by Goat

One of the benefits of having avoided listening to the mountains of Metalcore that threatened to collapse and crush us poor extremists this time two years ago is that it hasn’t put me off the few bands in the genre that are worth a listen. Orange County six-piece Bleeding Through are one such exception to the norm, formed in 1999 yet not achieving much until album number three, This Is Love, This Is Murderous, came out and knocked everyone for six. You see, whilst the basic setup of Metalcore suggests that what you’re going to get is the best of Metal and the best of Hardcore, fused together in one unholy slam-dancing, head-banging package, all too often we’re stuck with breakdown sickness and that common ailment known as ‘rubbish clean singing’, both of which have done enough damage to make your average Metalhead turn away in disgust, and inadvertently gave birth to the sub-genre of Deathcore (which is basically Metalcore plus Suffocation for the ignorant).

You can probably blame Bleeding Through for Deathcore’s rise, actually. A bunch of Hardcore kids from the home of Hardcore (vocalist Brandon Schieppati is a former guitarist of shitcore-purveyors Eighteen Visions, but don’t hold it against him) that try to play Extreme Metal, giving rise to all sorts of hype... ‘slightly Blackened Metalcore’ being the most rooted in reality. Even though the Black Metal influences were subtle at best, This Is Love... managed to be an excellent Metalcore album that kept the melodies to a minimum and made other bands like Trivium and Killswitch Engage sound spineless in comparison. Fine, follow-up album The Truth may have been a step towards the Metalcore mainstream, but if nothing else it helped to fuel a furious dispute between the band and their label Trustkill, revealed in a post on the Headbanger’s Ball blog criticising Trustkill for rereleasing The Truth a month before latest album Declaration was due out, for withholding royalties and for forcing the band to get a loan from Schieppati’s father to make Declaration and even pay producer Devin Townsend. Trustkill soon caved, and well, Devy deserves every penny he gets, because Declaration is the band’s best album to date.

Although undeniably Metalcore, there are many differing influences worked in, from Swedish Death/Thrash to, yes, Black Metal. Finnis Fatalis Spei, a surprisingly good classical intro, opens the album before a 300 sample kicks off first track proper Declaration, and it kicks your teeth in. The Black Metal influence is obvious even with the necksnapping breakdown, and Brandan sounds more vicious than ever. Sure, there are plenty of meaty downtuned riffs (eight-string guitars were used on the album) but the overall focus is definitely a few steps leftfield of the band’s comfort zone. There’s a Strapping Young Lad-suggestion in the crushing rhythm section, and keyboardist Marta’s contributions seem to be utilised well for perhaps the first time ever. Once you’ve finished headbanging to the brutal Thrashings of the title track, Orange County Blonde And Blue and Germany, a proggy acoustic guitar starts the more melodic There Was A Flood, which features a fair bit of piano. Heck, even Brandan’s clean vocals tend to be tasteful and well-placed, far from the usual ‘emo chorus’ stereotype.

What might keep the fine young bloods of the underground away from Declaration is that this is first and foremost Metalcore, as mentioned. If tracks such as Reborn From Isolation don’t cause some serious moshpit action, then something must be seriously wrong in said pit, and the solo is an unexpected treat. There is much room for improvement, however; whilst first single Death Anxiety twists and turns like an irate cobra, the more experimental eight-minute closer Sister Charlatan drags. Melodic interludes like The Loving Memory Of England are a bit filler-y, even if that track does set up the nice and brutal Beneath The Grey. It’s hard to fault the first three-quarters of the album, though. Bleeding Through are better at the Death Metal-influenced Metalcore than the experimental parts (and being fair to them, this is a massive improvement over the occasionally toothless The Truth) and as long as they stay angry, have a lot to offer.

Killing Songs :
Germany, There Was A Flood, French Inquisition, Reborn From Isolation, Death Anxiety
Goat quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Bleeding Through that we have reviewed:
Bleeding Through - The Great Fire reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Bleeding Through - Bleeding Through reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
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