Artist: Blindfolded and Led to the Woods
Album: Nightmare Withdrawals
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Country: New Zealand
The band hail from Christchurch, New Zealand and formed in 2010. Since this time they have put out an EP and now three full-length releases, with Nightmare Withdrawals following their 2017 release Modern Adoxography. The band is Ben Atkinson (guitars), Stace Fifield (vocals), Stuart Minchington (guitars), Nick Smith (bass) and Tim Stewart (drums). We also have the legendary Karl Sanders featuring on track 5. The album was recorded at The Sitting Room Studio, mixed by Samuel K Sproull and mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music. The killer cover art is courtesy of Agreatmass.
I hope you like your music pummeling, discordant and dissonant, because that’s what this album is. The band play a furious, technical, progressive and atmosphere laden blend of grindcore, hardcore and tech death. Their sound is truly unique, so I don’t even know who to compare them to for reference. I would say that they draw some inspiration in regard to the atmospheric elements from their fellow countrymen of legendary status, Ulcerate. From them they draw out some of that cavernous and immersive atmospheric quality. However unlike them they incorporate far more raw aggression and fast paced technicality, which come from the hardcore and grindcore elements to some extent.
For me personally I cannot help but take joy in covering bands from my fellow countrymen. While I no longer live in New Zealand, I still consider it home and love showcasing the impressive amount of talent that exists within our small country as much as I am able. There are a few references in the music and in the band’s physical aesthetic that are jokes that only Kiwi’s (and some Australians) would pick up on and those small idiosyncrasies really add to the enjoyment for me. The song title to track 5 Atop the Wings of a Magpie is one such example of this, a reference that people who live in places such as the USA wouldn’t understand. Photos I’ve seen of the band in their gumboots and flannies with a pig on a farm bring back memories for me of growing up between Pukekohe and Hamilton and my time working in Oamaru and make me appreciate the band that much more.
ANYWAY, back to the music. The guitar work on the album is split between two realms, technicality and dissonance, with the two often overlapping. The only time we really get a break from this is when focus is shifted to the more atmospheric parts of the album. The technical proficiency on the album is staggering and shows the extent of the band’s talent. This comment carries across to the bass and drum work on the album too. Bass wise we get some hugely impressive work here, with thick and technical bass lines presenting themselves throughout the album. Drum wise we get bombarded by an impressively unrelenting onslaught of blast beats and plenty of other techniques. On this release it’s very hard to say which element is the primary driving force on the album, as each instrument plays a key role in constructing the wall of sound that crashes down upon the listener on each and every track. I will say though that the drum and guitar work flow in unison for much of the album, feeding off of each other’s energy and flowing to the same patterns at many points.
Lastly and definitely not least, we have the vocals on the album. We get an extremely varied vocal performance here, ranging from harsh barked hardcore style vocals, to dirty grindcore style vocals, to screeched more grating vocals and more guttural death metal style vocals. You’ll find even more variety here when the vocals further diversify to suite the more atmospheric elements. They do this by taking a less aggressive edge to them and having some faded and semi-echoed effects applied, adding to the cavernous effect in parts. Not to mention the guest vocals on track 5 from Karl Sanders, which are always immediately distinguishable after his decades of work in Nile. When paired with the varied instrumentals on the album, the vocals complete the overall sound of the release and make it an absolute force to be reckoned with.
Overall, this is an absolutely killer release, and it makes me truly regret having not discovered the band until now. I definitely have some homework to do after this and plan to listen to all of their previous releases. The sheer level of aggression, proficiency and variety on the album blows me away and I believe that most fans of heavy and harsh music will find some joy in this release. So, go give it a spin today, hell give a few spins.
Listen to and order the album below: