After having barely immersed myself in new music the bulk of December, coming back fresh is a nice experience. No pressure, no burnout, and you can just let the music flow over you. I’m not sure if that’s the reason, but one record I recently tackled stopped me in my tracks halfway through the thing and made me realize I was listening to something that captured my imagination and held it captive through the entire run.
Chicago-based Bloodiest, a combination of well-noted musicians who have come together for a single cause, already had my attention with their debut “Descent,” a record that certainly played to the strengths of each of its members but managed to sound very different from the players’ other projects. It turns out, as strong as that first outing was, and as much promise as it held, it didn’t really prepare us for the band’s new self-titled display that drives Bloodiest’s ambition into the stratosphere. First time I heard the album, admittedly right before the holidays, I was trying to get some work done before the extended break, so I dug in. About halfway through this thing, I noticed the breath being ripped from my chest over how damn good this was. It was heavy, trippy, mesmerizing, weird, and full of energy. The record stuck with me and ended up something I went back to several times over the holidays.
For those unaware, this band is comprised of vocalist Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Corrections House); guitarists and ex-Sterling members Tony Lazzara and Ed Chaleff; bassist Colin Dekuiper (formerly of Russian Circles); piano/synth player Nandini Khaund; and drummer Cayce Key. On this record, they mix all sort of elements from progressive metal to doom to drone and ambiance to trance-inducing passages that could have you zoning a thousand miles ahead of you all while your brain is being stimulated by their thick, entrancing sounds.
The record starts with “Mesmerize,” a fitting title as that’s exactly what this song aims to do. The guitars are burly while Lamont wails about Josephine the fortune teller, and the track keeps cutting and boiling along the way. The guitars light up and burn brightly, while the melodies snake through the murk, and all of the elements spiral and fade away. “The Widow” runs 7:53 and starts with the bass and drums rumbling and soulful singing bleeding in. The track goes calm and acoustic, with Lamont calling, “Falling from the edge into the night,” and then is builds back up slowly. An ominous pall spreads over the song, and then the cut rips apart, with wild shrieks spraying and a huge deluge that swells to the finish. “Condition” is an interlude that lets cold guitars crawl, a wintry atmosphere sink its claws, and a dusty, noiry finish that leads you into “Broken Teeth.” There you’re met with a riff that reminds of Nirvana, and the pace settles into calm and then fires up again. Crazed shrieks burst, with Lamont prodding, “Smile for me through broken teeth,” as the song heads into gazey territory. Growls assault, as the earth’s crust tears apart, and the song trucks all the way to a violent end.
“Mind Overlaps” has piano dripping and a swirl of voices, with speaking churning beneath the chaos, and a foggy eeriness taking hold. There’s a twinge of sadness to what’s going on, with a noise that sounds like a jet engine raging, and the song melting into noise. “He Is Disease” opens in gloom and doom, as dark layers are built on top of one another, and the guitars chewing muscles. The vocals switch from growls to sneers, with the music causing your head to go swimming, and then the base corrodes and is eaten away. The final moments are burly and clobbering, melting into “Separation” that trickles open before absolutely exploding. The words are barked with authority, while the guitar work sears, and the intensity keeps growing. Lamont begins howling away, with everything being ramped up to a crescendo, and the music churning and burning. Closer “Suffer” emerges out of that, with the fiery playing continuing, wild cries smothering, and riffs pummeling. It’s a shorter song that brings this collection to an end, but a forceful, furious one that leaves everything choking in a cloud of smoke.
Five years was a long time to wait for a new Bloodiest record, but it was damn well worth it. This self-titled album trumps what they did on their debut and proves the band’s sound and potential are limitless. This record should strike and stimulate you, all while taking you into a massive trance. It’s a piece of work that gives you no choice other than to submit yourself to its will.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/BloodiestBand
To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://relapse.com/