Bleeding Through is best known in the American metal scene for two things. The first is being one of the first metalcore bands to add keyboards to their sound, creating tones and atmospheres akin to those of European melodic death metal bands like Soilwork and Dark Tranquillity. The second is the woman who has graced the keyboards since 2003, Marta Pererson, a regular in press features that highlight attractive women in heavy metal. The Orange County six-piece group hopes to expand their identity beyond these two things in 2010, though. Having finally achieved their much-desired split from Trustkill Records, Bleeding Through aims to start over again with their self-titled sixth album and their first release for Rise Records. Bleeding Through is a step away from 2008’s Declaration in many ways, and the changes are a mixed bag of positive, negative, and superfluous.
Of the good changes on Bleeding Through, two stand out above the others. The first is the addition of Dave Nassie, replacing Jona Weinhofen (Bring Me the Horizon, ex-I Killed the Prom Queen) on lead guitar. Nassie is a veteran of the aggressive music scene, having played in punk stalwarts No Use for a Name and hardcore innovators Suicidal Tendencies in the past. His guitar solos on the record are phenomenal, significantly enriching the band’s overall sound and giving greater depth to the songs on which they appear. The second significant positive change is bassist Ryan Wombacher adding clean backing vocals behind screamer Brandan Schieppati. Having Wombacher perform clean vocals is a change from older albums like The Truth and This Is Love, This Is Murderous, where Schieppati did the clean vocals. Wombacher’s vocals are clearer and higher in pitch than Schieppati’s clean vocals, adding variety to the vocal output overall.
However, the negative changes on Bleeding Through are just as noticeable as the positive changes, if not more so. The opening songs seem to be focused on all-out brutality and breakdowns rather than flow, reminding listeners more of symphonic deathcore act Winds of Plague than anything else. The album does catch its flow starting on “Salvation Never Found”, but with such a choppy beginning, this record doesn’t match up to the seamless and seemingly effortless flow that Declaration had. The other big problem is in Schieppati’s lyrics. On Declaration, Schieppati mostly moved away from the angst-ridden songs about love lost and broken hearts that had been prevalent on the band’s older records. However, on Bleeding Through, the angst returns in full force, and while most of it is directed at Trustkill Records and its president, Josh Grabelle, the lyrical ambiguity makes it easy to mentally change the focus of Schieppati’s anger from Grabelle to ex-girlfriends of years past.
This album shows a different side of Bleeding Through than has been seen before from the band. While the new elements of the band’s sound make this an interesting record, it’s not as strong in its execution as Declaration. The negative changes detract more from the album than the positive changes add to it, and while Bleeding Through is not a bad album by any means, it still has a chance to alienate some fans with its differences. Hopefully, Bleeding Through will be able to find the inspiration to make another full-album experience like Declaration for their seventh album.