Tucson-based post-hardcore act the Bled is very good at two things. One is overcoming obstacles. The other is writing frenetic, technical songs that cross multiple genres and showcase an expansive range of influences. Both of these skills were needed after the release of their critically acclaimed third album, Silent Treatment. Following that album’s release and a stint on Linkin Park’s annual Projekt Revolution tour, the Bled took a hiatus due to exhaustion, almost went broke, were dropped by Vagrant Records, and lost three of their members. The two remaining members of the band worked hard to earn money so their dream could stay alive, and they found new members to fill the gaps in the lineup. The new lineup of the Bled was signed to Rise Records, and with all the obstacles in their path cleared, the band focused on creating a new record. The result of all the obstacles and hard work of the past three years is Heat Fetish, an album where the Bled channels some of their peers into a furious assault of complicated metal and hardcore.
Most of the songs on Heat Fetish are focused on cramming a lot of different parts into a structure that still maintains some degree of continuity. There’s plenty of obvious influence from the Dillinger Escape Plan in the constantly-changing rhythmic patterns of the drums, as well as in the odd changes of guitar tones between and within songs. However, with the more accessible vocal style of James Muñoz, the band’s overall sound on Heat Fetish bears a greater similarity to bands like Every Time I Die, Poison the Well, and Protest the Hero. In fact, Muñoz’s screaming vocals sound nearly identical to those of Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die. This is a good thing for the Bled, since Every Time I Die is one of the most original bands in the American metal scene. Comparisons to them usually draw plenty of attention from that band’s strong fan base.
Heat Fetish has two specific shortcomings that prevent it from being a truly great record. The first is the similarity of the album’s sound to other bands. There’s nothing truly original or innovative on this album, and it’s too easy to point out which parts are influenced by which other bands. The second is the chaotic nature of the songs. With so many elements and parts interlaced into each song, it’s hard to differentiate the songs from each other, because there are no parts that are really memorable. The length of most songs on the album compounds this problem. With only three songs lasting longer than four minutes, it’s sometimes difficult to tell when one song ends and another begins without the aid of a time and track display.
Heat Fetish is a good record from The Bled, especially when considering the struggles that occurred before its creation and the effort that went into keeping this band alive. The album will definitely appeal to fans of the genre and of the band’s influences and peers. It may not offer much that’s new or ground-breaking, but it’s still an enjoyable listen that keeps the band’s future looking bright.