Bleed From Within - Fracture (Cover Artwork)

Bleed From Within

Fracture (2020)

Century Media

I’ve always felt kind of sorry for Bleed From Within. They seem to have suffered a bit from ‘always the bridesmaid’ syndrome when it comes to UK metal bands. Their last record for example, (2018’s Era) is an incredibly effective and impactful slice of modern metal, yet it seemed to make less of an impact than the quality of it deserved, I’d be inclined to say. It might be that they have existed in a world that was initially ruled by the late 00’s metalcore explosion and they were maybe a little bit too metal and not enough ‘core’, I don’t know, but they’ve never quite found themselves hit the heady heights of some of their contemporaries. That being said, finding bands to truly describe as their contemporaries is actually harder than you might think. In fact the last time I saw them live, they were supporting Cancer Bats, which seemed like an odd, if not unpleasant combination (BFW were excellent, incidentally.)

In the last few years the shift away from the Killswitch/Avenged style of more melodic metalcore has continued and with While She Sleeps releasing their most lacklustre record to date, Bring Me The Horizon moving even further into pop territory and Trivium receiving almost universal critical acclaim on their 9th studio album What The Dead Men Say, the wider metal audience has never felt more primed for BFW’s more traditional approach to modern metal, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms. Assuming this new record is good, of course. It’s probably worth noting at this point that Bleed From Within are also one of the most consistent metal bands to come out of the UK in the last couple of decades. To my ears, that streak very much continues on Fracture. It’s the first record in a while where the lineup has remained the same as the previous and the band has been quite vocal about how the writing process has involved all members. They even self-produce and bassist Davie Provan provides their artwork. All in all, it’s a pretty DIY setup for a band of their relative size, which is to be commended.

To the record. If you like riffs, then you’re in good hands here, basically. But more than that, each of the band’s members seem to be in perfect sync with one another and this makes the record feel incredibly tight, whilst not losing any of their signature aggression. Bearing in mind they move between styles pretty frequently (moments of both thrash and groove are present and correct) this is even more impressive. Scott Kennedy’s vocal may arguably not be the most dynamic in metal, but he does have that rare ability to really let his voice go and commit to the full-blooded roar, whilst still allowing his lyrics to be intelligible. It’s a hard thing to do and some of the most immediately obvious who wield this vocal ability are Randy Blythe and Sam Carter; some of the best in the game today. As I mention above, the tightness of the record extends to all of the band, but obviously the rhythm section are to thank for it as much as anyone else. Drummer Ali Richardson seemingly has the ability to cater for anything the band throw at him and Davie Provan on bass provides an equally dextrous bedrock through super-technical syncopation and the more anthemic moments alike.

I’m going to backtrack a little bit, now. Let’s talk about the riffing on this record. Holy shit. I often find more straight-down-the-line metal can be slightly lost on me as I tend to gravitate towards more extreme aspects to hook me in. Although there are various styles on display here, I don’t know that I’d go to the extent of calling them ‘extreme’ in the traditional sense, but the variety, technicality and sheer volume of riffs on this album is, quite frankly, extreme. Guitarists Craig ‘Goonzi’ Gowans and Steven Jones, having proven themselves to be a genuine force on the last record, have turned in an extraordinary performance throughout Fracture. There is a real art to being able to write riffs that are technical, varied and also full of the traditional energy and aggression that metalheads crave; but whatever the secret is, these guys know it and they know it well. All angles are covered; standalone riffs (the lead on “Night Crossing” or the post-chorus in the title track, for example), breakdowns (“Pathfinder” has an especially heavy slab of groove in it), solos, interplay…they’re all here. There have been many times that I’ve been listening to this record while doing something else in the last few weeks where I’ve found myself doing the ‘stink face’ and working those neck muscles before I’ve even realised.

By my own admission, I don’t always get excited with this style of ‘straight’ modern metal, but simply put, I think the quality on display here should really make people sit up and take notice. If, like me, this isn’t something you would normally reach for, but you still dig a metal riff as much as the next person, I would urge you to put this on, turn it up really fucking loud and see whether or not you find that you’re enjoying it more than you expected. It’s not revolutionary (though there are flourishes of modern production here and there), but it also doesn’t feel nostalgic at all. BfW are a band doing what that do well, extremely fucking well on this record. Lord knows I’d go and see any live music offered at this point in lockdown, but I’ll be making damn sure I catch these songs live when we’re back out again.