Bleeding Kansas - 1859 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bleeding Kansas

1859 (2004)


Bands with ‘blood' or ‘bleed' in the name same to share a common bond. They all make really, really bad music: Blood For Blood, Bleeding Through, and a plethora of other metalcore bands which undoubtedly have blood in their name somewhere. It's a real stigma that's been attached to that word when used in conjunction with music, and I can't tell you Bleeding Kansas' 1859 is not any different at all. To their credit, it comes from a somewhat interesting basis, as the time starting in 1861 when the pro-slave, pro-staters, and abolitionist were engulfed in a bloody struggle. And while the music has its interesting parts, it mainly falls by the wayside.

This is not the absolute most derivative metalcore I've ever heard, but it falls in with so many of the very same clichés bands become victim to. Since the press sheet made such a point to attempt and draw parallels between the lyrics and civil war imagery, I think I'll start with that. There are isolated incidents where the connection is somewhat evident, as in "Dig Your Own Grave:" "Don't put up your defenses / Someone call a doctor / This man has been bleeding for weeks / Give us a flag / There's something to fight for." Most of the lyrics, however, are far more trivial, and just add nothing to the music, or the vocals which I'll get to in a minute. Whereas imagery was strongly shown in those last lines, the lyrics from "Hanging By A Thread" just make you think these guys aren't even trying; " In the car, words spill out / Pick them up, put them back together / They just fall apart / Being alone, no one to talk to / I call and call, no one's there / I don't feel like eating / I never have." Wow. I'm lost for words on that. I really am.

It's at this point where I'd hope the screaming is so utterly incoherent that I won't be subjected to the lyrics, but that's not the case here either. I was reminded of the lead singer of Scraps And Heart Attacks, which is unfortunate, because Scraps And Heart Attacks were a pretty solid band. The vocals aren't horrible, but they just don't provide any intensity; it's kind of a lazy sound. And what goes well with lazy vocals? Lazy guitars, lazy drums, and lazy bass.

Every song just gives the overwhelming feeling that these guys are going through the motions. They don't particularly care whether there's any passion or intensity in the music, just as long as it gets done. The one instance I found where the music is slightly engaging is "Love With A .45," which provides for some solid guitar at points and keeps a good pace. Other than that, though, things are just far too slow, and lacking in any sort of drive. Once an a while, some cool basslines are thrown in, but it happens far too sparingly. The drums are apparent, but nothing ever sticks out enough for any real sort of notice to be taken. Which is, again, the underlying problem for this entire album; it's boring.

I'd advise you to stay away from this album if at all possible. Yeah, you could make it through a listen, or maybe two if you wanted to push it, before you wanted to throw it out, but there's absolutely no incentive to do so. Even for diehard metalcore fans, there's so much better you can do than this.