On Pass The Flask, the Bled revealed themselves as the product of two influences -- not even two bands, but two specific records. The first was Radiohead's The Bends and the second was Converge's When Forever Comes Crashing. Every song could be traced back to those albums, and the result was a harsh, melodic indulgence.
With that in mind, it's clear that Found In The Flood is much the result of the same band, but with the balance between those two influences shifted somewhat. Instead of again allowing their more ferocious nature to dominate as it did on Flask, Flood sees the band reeling back the visceral aggression and experimenting with more melody and restrained tempos.
The result isn't bad at all, but it seems to lose its way at times. Vocalist James Munoz seems particularly adept at unleashing a mighty scream, but is not the most careful of singers, and seems to have drained some of the intensity out of his vocals. That's not to say that Munoz comes across as an auto-tuned prepubescent mess like so many so-called metalcore vocalists. It is simply that the vocals lack much of the bite from their previous efforts; they're not bad, simply bland.
The album opens with “Hotel Corral Essex,” which originally surfaced in 2004 in a rougher form. Re-recorded but also reimagined, the song finds Munoz screaming, mumbling and singing cleanly in an impressively diverse performance and making for one of the stronger tracks on the album.
Later, the band returns to chaotic form on the discordant, angular ”Gutter Shark,“ but unfortunately doesn't stay in this vein for too long. The next track, ”My Assassin,“ lacks bite, while ”Antarctica“ grates on the nerves with its frustrating vocals and complete lack of denouement. At no point does the track release any of the tension that it builds, and if you're going to record a near-six minute song, it damn well better go somewhere.
Thankfully, the band seems to regain its footing with ”She Calls Home,“ which finally manages to unite the vocal styles Munoz plays with. Later tracks like ”Millionaires“ and ”I Don't Keep With Liars Anymore“ manage to similarly harness the dynamic and are accordingly successful.
Producer Mark Trombino shows that his time in Drive Like Jehu gave him a thorough understanding of how to record more discordant bands, and his work on the album is stellar throughout. Trombino innately understands that this style of music is not served by pushing the vocals so high in the mix as to make the instruments inaudible; instead, he treats the vocals like another instrument and provides a perfect balance.
Change can be good; growth even more so. The album has enough power and intensity to maintain interest and while the strong tracks are great, the weak ones are frustratingly bland. The album lacks the coherency and clarity of Pass The Flask and as such fails to topple that record as the definitive recording of the band to date.