Internal Bleeding
Onwards to Mecca

When I first started writing for Digitalmetal, one of the first discs I was received was Alien Breed by Internal Bleeding; a compilation of rare/demo tracks and one new track that was from the “upcoming” new album, Hatefuel. While I always kind of dismissed Internal Bleeding as nothing more than a decent Suffocation clone, the track “Alien Breed” had my interest piqued with its brazen NY attitude and slightly hardcore laced breakdowns. So I waited, and waited, and waited…. Nothing. Until literally out of nowhere I get this album in the mail.

If anything, Internal Bleeding are persistent and the delay of the this album may actually benefit the band as the hardcore machismo and steadfast death metal leaning garnered from many years toiling in Suffocation’s shadow has come at a time when death metal and hardcore are now frequent bedmates. The promo material itself hints that this is for fans of The Glass Casket and Between the Buried and Me as well as Dying Fetus, and I’d have to say that’s a fair description.

Onward to Mecca is certainly as groove based as the somewhat tired sounding Driven to Conquer, but the new lineup seems to have given Internal Bleeding a very pissed of gloss that seems to be a cathartic explosion of 13 years of bullshit, lineup issues and label hopping. Sole original member drummer Bill Toley has surrounded himself with some younger, fresher blood to replace the member turnstile, and the new folks have brought a renewed sense of rage to an outfit that was teetering on the edge of career oblivion.

Granted, this isn’t the pure guttural death metal blasting of their Voracious Contempt days, but neither was Driven to Conquer, and many death metal purists will cry foul of the self anointed “deathcore “ stylings that produces an abundance of bruising breakdowns rather than hypersonic brutality, and considering this is year than has seem the return of Suffocation, the comparison will be inevitable considering both bands come out of the same scene at the same time.  However, I’ll go out on a limb here and say I prefer this album to Suffocation’s underwhelming comeback effort. Onward to Mecca  didn’t come with the hype or expectations that Souls to Deny did, so any letdown isn’t as monumental, but truth be told, this album is better produced, has far more crushing moments and seems a far less obvious attempt to ride on a past legacy.

Onward to Mecca, while far from original and obviously catering to a current trend (hardcore + death metal), just seems more honest. New shouter Jerry Lowe has a suitable backstreet grunt and is a fine gateway vocalist for the curious hardcore fans as well as the seasoned death metal veteran, he’s no subterranean growler, but his ‘real’ voice suits the chuggariffic breakdowns that litter this furniture shattering album. Throw in the relevant subject matter of today’s news (war, patriotism, fanatical nationalism), and Lowe seems the perfect herald of today’s headlines and political undercurrents.  While there are plenty of blast beats and moments of sonic battery, Internal Bleeding are far from the worlds most technical death metal band, as their speedier moments rarely move past fairly rudimentary death metal pacing, but truth be told Onward to Mecca isn’t trying to be Vital Remains or even their old selves, but instead is courting the new breed of hybrid metal with bursts of crushing, devastating breakdowns and anthemic moments of neck snapping brutality. I imagine this album as the soundtrack to Bruce Banner’s violent transformation into his Hulking alter ego. The Terrance Hobbs (Suffocation) production is stout and typically bottom heavy, reveling in the album’s many slowdowns and rumbling breaks.

Toley himself is solid if unspectacular, but that’s more to do with the material’s steady pacing, as it never really challenges him. The solo-less tracks are all sturdy reminders of death metal’s lurching past, but glossed with hardcore’s sense of toughness and political relevance.  Tracks like “Infidel”, “Arm Our Youth” and “This Day I Fight” serve as rousing calls to arms to protect this nation, and the battering riffs are the barrages of artillery clearing the way. Each track contains some kind of momentous breakdown that causes an involuntary breaking of things and punching of strangers, with the climactic “Intolerance” serving as the Armageddon to the albums musical assault.

Maybe my inclination towards angry, seething hardcore gives this album slightly more appeal to me, as its death metal side is fairly rudimentary, but it still provides 37 minutes of pummeling explosive, unashamedly Patriotic and proud metal to scare Arabs with. If Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyrie” was the Vietnams fictional theme song played by the Huey’s in ‘Apocalypse Now’, Onward to Mecca is the album Apache Gunships should be blaring as they shred helpless, AK-47 toting foes and send them to paradise is bloody pieces. <br>

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 15th, 2004

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