If you’ve been following Bleeding Through for some time now then you already know what to expect with each new release. They aren’t going to be doing anything way out in left field or too far off their set path. With their latest full-length, The Great Fire, the band isn’t reinventing the wheel, but they are doing a damn fine job of smoothing out its edges. Since their Trustkill Records debut, This Is Love, This Is Murderous, Bleeding Through have quickly risen in the metalcore scene and remained one of its top bands. If there’s one thing this band does well it’s make kickass metalcore with a heavy hand in both sides of the genre. I’ve always seen their Trustkill follow-up, The Truth, as a high point in their career and Declaration as a definite low point. Their last album, the self-titled Rise Records debut, saw Bleeding Through return as a much heavier and tighter band. They flawlessly redeemed the misstep that was Declaration. The Great Fire does a fine job of continuing the trends started on that album while implementing even more of the elements that made it so good.
The thing that made Bleeding Through’s self-titled album so interesting to me was not only the sheer heaviness of their sound or the tightness of their playing, but also the black metal influence heard in some of the songs. It’s easy to see that while writing The Great Fire, the band’s appetite for trvth has only grown(see “The Walking Dead”). A large part of this is due to something else we saw a major increase of on their last effort. Marta’s keyboard playing. It’s presence is even stronger on this album. Just listen to “Starving Vultures” to hear how killer it sounds. Her parts have grown bigger and a lot more intricate than on past Bleeding Through albums. Greater use of this element was a smart move on the bands part. It adds a ton of depth and atmosphere to something that could otherwise get a little stale.
Listening to The Great Fire you’ll also notice that something else has become a constant in Bleeding Through’s sound now. Brandan Schieppati’s clean vocals(or lack thereof). They are even fewer and farther in between this time around. Almost to the point of being nonexistent. Of the fourteen songs clean singing only makes a brief appearance on four. Even then they’re pretty low in the mix. This actually works quite well. It’s just enough to keep things from getting monotonous without robbing the crushing heaviness. It makes those moments stand out a lot more than they would have had each song followed the harsh vocals, clean chorus, harsh vocals, repeat process.
The lyrics still pander to the downtrodden and the broken hearted with a big “Fuck you” seal of approval stamped on top. Oh, and of course they are rife with mentions of any form of fire. This of course still works great for the band. It’s definitely an “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” situation, and, let’s face it, this type of message will ALWAYS have an audience. Somehow it all seems a little darker this time around though. Hmm, perhaps that’s the keyboards again. Things take a quick turn for the Pantera on “Step Back In Line” with lyrics that could have been channeled straight from Phil Anselmo’s mind. “Walk Away Son/ Nothing more to prove/ Fell to the asphalt/ Most of my life/ Who the fuck are you?/ Step the fuck back in line!”
Everything about this album is Bleeding Through at the top of their game. Between this and their last album they have truly discovered themselves and fine tuned everything that works for them. From the guitar playing, the drumming, and keyboard playing everything has been expanded and improved upon. There’s a few killer solos throughout the album like the one on “The Devil and Self Doubt” and plenty of meaty riffs, and Derek Youngsma must be half machine the way he pummels through these tracks with mechanical accuracy. Without a doubt, this is a new level of Bleeding Through.
If you like Bleeding Through you will love this album. If you haven’t checked them out in a while because you weren’t a fan of their older material it may be time for you to revisit them. The Great Fire easily stands alongside the best things Bleeding Through has ever done and far exceeds other efforts. The basic meat and potatoes recipe might still be the same, but they’ve added plenty of new spices to shake things up a bit.
Rating – 8.5/10