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Bleeding - Elementum

by James Peterson at 30 October 2017, 12:42 PM

BLEEDING have a slightly unique approach to trying their hand at progressive metal that may appeal to some. When you first start up a song of theirs you get a very raw aggressive sound with subtle attributes to some of the guitar composition that remind of some 90s technical/progressive metal. Not in the playing style, mind you, just with some of the note progressions and chords here.

The vocals are the first thing that’s really unexpected, however. The singer, Haye Graf, I must admit isn’t making the mark for me. His vocals actually remind of singers that were popular in the late 90s metal scene, very particularly Serj Tankian and to a much lesser extent Jonathan Davis. I actually refuse on principle to knock the guy directly for how his voice sounds in terms of timbre. You can’t help how your voice sounds when you’re singing what comes naturally to you. His vocal technique is a different story all together. There’s a number of points on the album where he has no issue singing on pitch, like the genuinely great harmonized chorus in “Sense and Science,” but his delivery makes it sound as though he struggles with being on pitch quite often. It’s just seriously teetering on being pitchy most of the time for these songs. I have this exact same problem with the band ARCANE EXISTENCE, but it’s more of a prevalent issue here. I love that band and they put out one of my absolute favorite discs of this year with “The Dark Curse,” bear in mind.

Another thing that can’t be known from just listening, but I can’t help but wonder, is if the band recorded with a click track. Maybe they chose to go a more old-school route and eschew it because it sounds like these guys aren’t playing tightly to a grid, which is fine if you want to go for a more rushed feel or laid back feel depending on the musical feel. But the band sounds like it’s rushing or being behind the beat and not so much in a musically pleasant way, even for their rhythmically complex riffs. This probably could have been alleviated by one of two things: a better producer or more practice. Or both… I hate to say, but it gets really messy and disjointed at points. Speaking of the riffs, there’s a decent amount of melody on this album like the really pretty opening to “Ember,” but most of the riffs and vocal lines come across as not containing particularly progressive or resonant melodies for this style. Not that everything needs to be harmonious, there’s a really cool dissonant clean guitar line in “Immortal Projection.” For the most part, however, the music can be un-engaging and I found it very difficult to stay focused on it with 100% attention. And sometimes things stick out and grab the listener’s attention in a sadly unpleasant manner, like spoken word vocals or the occasional very harsh dissonance that feels out of place.

Timbre-wise, just about the only thing that’s noteworthy is the clean guitar tone, but even then, it’s not as brilliant as the one on the GODS OF SILENCE album I reviewed not too long ago. The mix and mastering here is also passable… the album at least doesn’t feel brick-walled to shit and back. Despite all this, the “Elementum” album is far from having zero redeeming qualities. One place I will have to say I feel this band really shines is the textures they throw in like electronic sounds or guitar harmonics to add to atmosphere, such as in the bridge sections of the first two tracks. The opening of the closing track also has some tapping that creates a really neat tonal texture, but it’s unfortunately ruined when it comes back with the vocals on top because it’s clearly not an easy passage to sing over effectively at all.

In “Heir to Apostasy” there’s also a REALLY powerful, pained section where the vocals and guitars get extremely dramatic towards the end of the song. Near seven minutes into “Paranoia” is another downright amazing lick, but it doesn’t feel worth the journey to get there… as it feels quite a bit longer than seven minutes passed in the song when it gets to that point. This can be said of the album as a whole as well. It’s a bit shy of an hour but it drags to feeling somewhat longer. The lyrical themes I can make out on this thing also sound a little overdone in terms of word choice, but they’re not pointless and they actually suit the music. You can pick up on a theme of general distress here that the music does express pretty accurately in it’s own way.

Unfortunately “Elementum” just is not the most remarkable music in the style right now and the vocals just fall flat a majority of the time, which made for unfortunately one of my least favorite album listening experiences of this year so far. Can’t say I recommend this strongly, but give it a try and see what you think!

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 5
Memorability: 3
Production: 6

2 Star Rating

1. When They Come
2. Heir to Apostasy
3. Immortal Projection
4. Paranoia
5. Macbeth
6. Sense and Science
7. Ember
8. Elementum
9. Shipwrecked
Haye Graf - Vocals
Jörg von der Fecht - Guitars
Heiko Sparmann - Bass
Andreas Tegeler - Drums
Marc Nickel - Guitars
Record Label: Pure Steel Records


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