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Saturday, September 20, 2008

CD Review: Bleeding Through - Declaration

Bleeding Through - Declaration
2008 Trustkill
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



A lot of bands like to pimp their latest product with a hefty buzzword title and frequently end up delivering pussed-out fluff hardly indicative of the implied force. Take your pick of hypothetical titles such as Defiance, Retribution or Confrontation. Naming your album Declaration is a bold move, and especially when you've been in the game awhile as Bleeding Through has, perhaps there's a bit more to live up to with such a move, particularly when your previous three albums have gradually unraveled your inner essence bit by raging bit. Not that Bleeding Through has ever skimped in their fast-moving affairs, particularly with their 2003 breakout album This Is Love, This Is Murderous and 2006's fanged follow-up The Truth, but the SoCal sextet aren't kidding this time around. When they issue their fourth album Declaration, they're prepared to back it up down to every line, stanza and preamble.

Bleeding Through in six years have become masters of metalcore so much that by now Declaration is expected to raise the bar on the thrashers' previous efforts. Were it not for the breakdowns and three songs fused with melodic choruses ("There Was a Flood," "Death Anxiety" and "Sister Charlatan") as well as magnificent orchestral fills, Bleeding Through could easily pass for a Western bloc grind band, that's how much they've stepped on the gas with Declaration.

Brandan Schieppati and his demolition crew literally ravage everything in their wake with blaring songs like "Sellers Market," "Orange County Blonde and Blue" and "French Inquisition" and the difference maker on these cuts, aside from the increased velocity and the denser production tones is keyboardist Marta. In the past, she has astutely textured Bleeding Through's manic odes of hostility, but on Declaration, she is so graceful in her sublets the songs take on a majestic quality, even as Brian Leppke and Jona Weinhofen shred the bejesus out of their instruments on "French Inquisition" and the apocalyptic "Germany." In turn, Marta's omnipresence throughout Declaration leaves lofty airs of grandeur amidst Bleeding Through's relentlessly punishing pace.

Would that Bleeding Through would have the confidence in themselves to dispense with their equally relentless breakdown chunks on these exceptionally-written thrash blasts, this album would earn even higher praise. If there's any band ready to stray from the base principles of metalcore and move the genus forward, Bleeding Through has announced that loud and clear. Seriously, this band is way too good now to be wasting their time on trendy breakdown sequences that's going to do them and their ilk in one day, even though they get tricky now and then by letting Marta sprinkle delicate notes overtop the chugging tempo interruptions.

The exquisite "Sister Charlatan" is Bleeding Through's finest hour as a band, and it proves that a metalcore act can sustain an eight-minute epic without surrendering to monotony. It is beautifully sculpted, particularly in the cardinal dirge melody that introduces the song and reprises itself while Bleeding Through otherwise scorches the track as if paying a fiery penance in full. The airy melancholia of the chorus as delivered by bassist Ryan Wombacher offers enough dignity to this powerhouse composition, but the finishing touches from Marta and the band's rhythm section adorns it to the point of excellence. This crew has naturally come miles since 2002's Portrait of the Goddess.

Truth revealed how brute ugly Bleeding Through can get, while Declaration is even nastier, though not in the same vicious vein as, say, The Acacia Strain's latest gory album, Continent. Nevertheless, Declaration more than substantiates its brash title and it elevates Bleeding Through to their pinnacle as songwriters. Impressively layered and wickedly driven, Declaration, like Brandan Schieppati himself, roars with another -tion word: constitution.

Rating: ****

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