(Andy Synn would like to tempt you all with a taste of the new album from Slowbleed)
We all have our guilty pleasures, right?
Case in point, I’ve recently been enjoying a fun little show by the name of Dishmantled (hosted by the inimitable Titus Burgess) which tasks two chefs to recreate a specific dish… after it’s been blasted at them by a cannon.
It’s a ridiculous premise, obviously, but what makes it even more ridiculous is that the contestants are blindfolded during the first stage of the competition, meaning they can’t see what’s being blasted at them, they can only touch and taste whatever they manage to scrape off the walls.
There’s lots of reasons I like the show (it’s short, undemanding, and undeniably entertaining), but it also reminds me of what writing about music can feel like sometimes – blindly groping around trying to guess what different influences contribute to a band’s sound in the hope that you can then communicate this to your audience.
So, in that spirit, please join me on an audio-culinary journey as I try to suss out exactly what ingredients make up this particularly piquant platter of meaty Metallic Hardcore from Californian crossover crew Slowbleed.
From the moment that the album kicks in properly with “Ice Cold Odyssey” (following the short-but-sweet, scene-setting introduction of “Aurora”) I feel confident enough to say that there’s definitely some Integrity and early Entombed in the mix (the song’s helter-skelter slide from blastbeats to breakdowns being the real clincher), and maybe even a little Merauder and/or Bolt Thrower too.
This impression is then only further reinforced by the gargantuan, galloping grooves of “No Shepherd (Of Wolves)” – with the latter flavour(s) making an even stronger appearance during the gut-churning, neck-wrecking riffs of “Hung At Dawn” – so I’m pretty sure my musical taste-buds aren’t leading me astray.
But, as you may already have noticed yourselves, there’s also a bold, melodic bite to the music, most notably in the fluid, fiery solos scattered throughout the album, which suggest either a distinctive Dismember or Darkest Hour undercurrent in the band’s creative palette (most likely the former… but I wouldn’t rule the latter out either) and perhaps a dash of classic Pantera too (especially during the second half of the album).
Of course, you’ve got to be careful not to assume too much from a blind taste-test like this (if you’re occasionally reminded of Revocation, for example, it’s most likely due to the fact that Slowbleed vocalist Jon Caytion is a dead-ringer for Dave Davidson at times, and any similarities to Xibalba are mostly due to the fact that both bands are heavy as fuck and not afraid to let you know it).
Nor should you fall into the trap of thinking that just because you can name some of the elements and ingredients which (might) have gone into the recipe that you know everything there is to know about the band/album in question.
Because while there’s been a big upsurge in groups hungry for a bite of the “Death Metal meets Hardcore” pie in the last few years, I’d go so far as to say that The Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn is one of the most devastatingly delicious, virulently vicious slices of bombastic belligerence to come out of this particular corner of “the scene” since Fuming Mouth‘s The Grand Descent.
I’d also like to make a prediction… actually, make that two predictions.
Firstly, while this album may not have gotten a lot of hype (not yet, anyway), I have a feeling it’s going to be a real slow-burner, and a bit of a dark horse, which would put money on it definitely make a few appearances in a few “Best of 2022” lists come December.
And, secondly, I predict I’m not going to be the only one hopeful that these guys can get “back in the kitchen” sooner, rather than later, because if their first album is this good then I can’t wait to see and hear what they cook up next!