Album: Funeral Hymns
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Country: United States
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Bloodletter are a Chicago based quartet consisting of drummer Zach Sutton, guitarist Pat Armamentos, guitarist/vocalist Peter Carparelli and bassist Adam Payne. Since 2012 they have displayed a relentless and gimmick-free brand of thrash across several demos and EPs, as well as their 2018 debut album Under The Dark Mark. Thrash metal can, by its very nature, feel somewhat outdated at times with many of it’s tropes set in stone before the 80s were over. This is exacerbated by the fact that so many more progressive styles of extreme metal developed from thrash. As such it takes great skill to make thrash metal in the 21st century that sounds vibrant, exciting and relevant. Some of the modern crossover-thrash bands like Municipal Waste, Power Trip and Toxic Holocaust have that vociferousness ingrained within them through their punk & hardcore roots, but Bloodletter manage to achieve that level of thrilling energy while sticking close to the genre’s classic metal elements.
The opener Absolution Denied has a triumphant, fist-pumping tempo before it runs off into full on blasts of wild thrash. It’s a great opener and immediately defines the sound of this album. For the most part these eleven tracks are all pure thrash, with the band offering exceptional control over their chaotic velocity. The vocals throughout the record are excellent, high pitched growls that have a nice human tone to them, occasionally punctuated by a low guttural. There is an abundance of duelling guitar leads that are both highly technical and wonderfully melodic. At times these solos kick their way towards power metal territory, such as on The Grim and Death Masks, while at other times they take on a darker more black metal-esque tone such as on Blood, Bone & Ash and the superbly catchy Guillotine.
There’s a few tracks which don’t stray from the formula, particularly Disinterment and Mark Of Justice which are both absolute ragers overflowing with furious riffs and wailing solos. The band offer a few twists away from pure speed with some darker metalcore style chugging on Funeral Bell and Burnt Beyond Recognition. Hang even has a Florida death metal style riff in it’s opening moments, adding a level of brutality which I feel the band could have explored further since they do it so well. The closing track I Am The End resurges the epic feeling of the opening track, and it’s first leg is the only time the band utilise some clean guitars. It’s followed by a slow and mournful melodic section which, if it were turned down to half tempo, would easily pass for funeral doom. It doesn’t last long though before the band jump back into thrash mode to close out the record in an appropriate fashion.
If you’ve listened to thrash metal before then there’s nothing on Funeral Hymns that will really surprise you, but there is plenty here that will delight you. The unrelenting speed and ferocious drumming drives this record on constantly, and the flashy solos and guitar leads never feel like they’re there to show off, instead acting as an essential part of the album’s sound. Bloodletter aren’t challenging the formula of their genre, but they don’t need to; thrash metal is a genre where, with the right skills and energy, awesome music can still be made without the need for experimentation.
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