Okay, before the review proper begins, I'd like to quickly shed the casual readers: this band sounds like The Black Dahlia Murder with Bring Me The Horizon breakdowns in it. Now, a certain percentage of you will be tasting vomit in the back of your throat and around the cracks in your teeth. You can go now. You're excused. From that one sentence, a certain subset of you now know you'll hate this album, and you don't need to know any more. Go listen to the new Dark Funeral, it's superb.
Right. Now I was going to make a giant end-of-2009 review blow-out of dozens of mini reviews - not, you understand, an "end of decade" list, though everyone's talking about this decade like it's about to end and as such, I've been being as utterly insufferable as possible in pointing out that since there was no Year 0, the decade finishes at the end of 2010 and the new one begins in 2011 (This also means you all celebrated the beginning of the 21st Century in the WRONG FUCKING YEAR, RETARDS) - containing a paragraph on every major release of the year and retrospectives on previous reviews. However, this is taking fucking ages, and while I may just finish it someday, probably by 2011, I realised around about the time I was grasping for an excuse to not finish it, that it was missing the point of this blog. I'm not one for just saying good things about the latest well known releases - let's be honest, you already know how you feel about Crack The Skye, so the last thing you need is my opinion taking up space in your empty little minds - but for ripping the shit out of bad albums you've heard of and praising great albums you probably should have heard of. The enormo-review may one day surface, but screw it, a new year just means a slightly different date, so out with the hysteria and on with some scene-setting.
If we have anything to thank metalcore and deathcore for - besides Winds of Plague bringing us all the exquisite Alana Potocnik, who continues the perpexing trend of every woman in metal being at least a "would-after-a-beer-or-two", to our attention - it's that it's gone a long way towards revitalising the UK metal scene. Let's be honest guys, the period of time between the creation of grindcore and the rise to prominence of Bullet For My Valentine was a fallow period for UK alternative music - the country that once birthed Iron Maiden, Carcass and - depressingly - Venom, had to sit and watch as America and Mainland Europe got thrash, death metal, black metal, melodeath and first-wave metalcore. Now, thanks to Bullet, Bring Me The Horizon and Architects, we're back competing on the world stage, and the underground is rife with young, hungry bands snapping at the heels of the American lot - at this point, the european scene might as well not exist in the world of modern metal - in the fields of metalcore and deathcore.
Of course, metalcore has yet to convince one half of the traditional metal community that it still is artistically relevant and the other that it ever was in the first place, and deathcore is still the unwanted child of the alternative music hick trailer, begging only for love as said community puts yet another cigarette out on it's face purely because it was closer than the ashtray, but in the UK, as far as the average young metal fan is concerned, metalcore was only invented four years ago, probably by Oli Sykes and those other guys that follow him around - yes, rest of world, whether we like it or not, Bring Me The Horizon are LITERALLY THAT VITAL TO THE CREATION OF THE NEW UK METAL SCENE - and as such, here, since we haven't had to put up with it for ten years like the US scene has, it's still fresh and interesting. Yes, there is something horribly wrong with a scene that champions Parkway Drive as fresh and interesting, but roll with it.
So of the up-and-coming bands that populate the UK scene, the majority are all coming from the same place - second-wave metalcore, as influenced by other second wave metalcore, so when Bleed from Within rose up in 2007 on the value of being excellently done...well...second-wave metalcore, it took...well...no-one by surprise.
That tale was much more inspiring in my head.
Anyway, what I loved about Bleed From Within was that they looked like a proper death metal band with a frontman who could be Mr. Sykes' twin, and brilliantly, this sums up the band perfectly. Singer Scott Kennedy gives high, back-of-throat howls and occasional full-throated roars. The guitars riff like every darkly melodic metal band since At The Gates, and the drums either blast or thud along at a thrash pace, occasionally stopping for the usual rent-a-breakdowns. You've heard this before, people, but the clincher is that it's not badly done at all. The innovation, complexity or quality of the riffs never really rise to a level which would earn them the kind of admiration that, say, Sylosis readily deserve, but the actual melody is fairly well composed and the influence of The Black Dahlia Murder actually helps them separate out from the crowd. And yes, in this case, "influence" is shorhand for "blind, pandering hero worship", but fuck it, when every other fucking band on your scene draws "influence" from a bunch of twatty As Blood Runs Black-aping fuckscoffs, drawing inspiration from a halfway decent band can be what gives a good band a great sound. Unfortunately, this still isn't a great album, or even a good one.
Okay, so considering "riffs written in the music classes of special schools" is the standard for guitar work in second-wave metalcore, BFW should probably be given some kind of medal for not just chugging through the entire album, but even so, beating a shitty standard has never been an impressive goal, doubly so when the last band in the British scene to play this kind of music and still manage this were, you guessed it, Bring Me The Horizon. The overarching musical pieces the songs represent are perfectly functional, but there's no real character here - the riffs are quickly-picked blocks of simple melody without inspiration, the drums just kind of happen. The instrumental performances don't really aspire to do more than the absolute minimum so, fittingly, they employ breakdowns by the bucketload. These are, admittedly, reasonably well done breakdowns, but as is the norm with the modern metal scene, they're overdone to the point of tedium, and for a musical section designed to inspire enthusiasm, this kind of misses the point. The songs themselves do the job, and don't really attempt more. I want to be able to say there's potential here, but honestly, I can't hear it. This is dull music at it's most dire.
There's a reason that Bring Me The Horizon have come up so many times in this review, and it's a reason we'd be remiss to forget - that prior to the avalanche of shite that was Suicide Season, they were really fucking good. Count Your Blessings can't be flawed for it's great riffs, varied vocals and reliable drums, and it's only real problem - the over-reliance on open-string breakdowns - is one that they at least did better than all the other bands for whom this is a problem. Humanity attempts to equal these elements, but it ultimately fails because whereas BMTH's musicianship is equaled by their passion, Bleed From Within simply play the kind of bland, uninspired metal of a band whose enthusiasm far outstrips their artistic vision.