The Bled

Heat Fetish

Written by: PP on 15/04/2010 21:52:42

It's been a while since we last heard about The Bled, so let me enlighten you what's been going on with the band since the release of "Silent Treatment" back in 2007. After a mediocre fan and critical response to the record, the band toured relentlessly but found themselves in bad debt following the tour, forcing the band members to find other ways than The Bled to make money. The bassist toured with Warship, and the guitarist formed another band called Starving Arms, but in the end both left the band alongside the drummer, perhaps contributing into Vagrant Records dropping them later on. Vocalist Muñoz and lead guitarist Jeremy Talley didn't give up though, and found three new dudes to record a new album with. This album's called "Heat Fetish", and while it's slightly better than "Silent Treatment", we have all the reason to believe this is the album that'll close The Bled book in due time.

On surface, The Bled still sounds like The Bled have always done. Vocalist Muñoz delivers his strained scream that sounds like his vocal chords should've been history already a couple of albums back, and guitarist Talley plays his lead parts with the familiar tone and intensity as we remember from previous records. The rhythm section and drumming is rather anonymous in the mix, but then again it has been that since "Silent Treatment" so no big change there. But upon closer inspection you'll quickly find many of the same flaws as on the aforementioned record, namely the complete failure of taking proper advantage of the quiet/loud dynamic that the band used to master so well in the past. Instead, the screamed songs and post-hardcore leads sound tired, as if the band are rehashing their old material with little inspiration to evolve, which is okay on paper, but for some reason most of the songs refuse to leave a mark on the listener for longer than the duration of the song.

But as with "The Silent Treatment", a few exceptions do exist. One of them is the haunted melody in "Need New Conspirators" that should remind you of earlier masterpieces like "Daylight Bombings", for instance, through its build up to explosive screaming and slick groove. Another is "Shouting Fire In A Crowded Room", my personal favorite on the record, which resurfaces some of the eruptive intensity of the band, and finishes things off with a great clean vocal chorus and some sleek guitar leads. The contrast between the harshly screamed verses and the melodic choruses does wonders here, and leaves me scratching my head over why the band doesn't use it more on the album. The same applies for "Meet Me In The Bone Yard" which is also heavily clean vocal oriented, fortifying the idea that The Bled are at their best when they inject some of that clean vocal melody into their mix. See "Crawling Home" for another example of clean/scream contrast godhood. You see, where many of their peers just sound boringly emo in similar passages, The Bled sound like a screamo band with a mission, where the clean passages fit nicely into the overall structure without sounding like they were just cut and pasted there for no reason other than to have some cleans.

In general, the second half of the album is much stronger than the anonymous first half, but even so this scribe can't shake off the feeling that The Bled have had their better days and are now nearing pension age. To me, they sound like a shadow of their former selves, even though I can't quite point my finger at anything specific that causes this effect. In the end, it'll come down to this. If you liked "Silent Treatment" equally much as the other albums by this band, then you'll probably also like "Heat Fetish" a great deal more than I did. But if the album represented mediocrity where awesomeness could've been for you, then you'll find that "Heat Fetish" does only a little better even after a dozen listens to the record - mostly because of the below average first half of the album.

Download: Shouting Fire In A Crowded Room, Crawling Home
For the fans of: UnderOATH, Every Time I Die, Johnny Truant, Gwen Stacy
Listen: Myspace

Release date 09.03.2010
Rise Records

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