Slowbleed
A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn

Over the last few years, metalhead jack-of-all-trades Ben Murray (Light This City, Heartsounds, Darkness Everywhere, No Chemistry) has built Creator-Destructor Records into quite the diverse little powerhouse of a label. Representing everyone from legendary punk rockers A Wilhelm Scream, to Beatdown bruisers like Sunami and Kruelty, to filthy Death Metal acts like Dismemberment and Spinebreaker. Hell, his own projects themselves run the gamut on everything from Melodeath to Indie to Punk and back again. What always struck me about this approach to running a label is that you just get a sense that he’s throwing his support behind bands that he truly enjoys and believes in, regardless of genre or stylistic labels. Good music is good music is good music, and the man certainly seems to have an ear for quality.

So when I came across this album from California’s Slowbleed, I had a feeling I was probably in for something good. I just didn’t know it was going to be THIS friggin’ good. Holy crow.

Appropriately, Slowbleed is not a band that holds itself to genre boundaries or limits, though stylistically you could certainly put them in that general Death-Metal-Meets-Hardcore realm ala Gatecreeper, Fuming Mouth or Tombstoner that’s having its minute in the world of metal these days. But there are a couple things Slowbleed is offering that set themselves apart from those similar kinds of acts – namely in the form of their two guitarists Logan Givan and John Laux who, on tracks like the incredibly filthy “Hung at Dawn” and “Sangre” (two of my personal favorites) show they’re more than capable of throwing down the heavy shit with the best of them. But it’s their almost virtuosic tendencies that separate themselves from the pack, as evidence on opener “Aurora,” and ballad “Driven by Fire,” both featuring the kind of pinch-harmonic-laden, soaring guitar leads that bring early Amott Brother-era Arch Enemy immediately to mind (the latter also giving off some distinctively “Cemetery Gates” vibes). There’s even a really nice latin-influenced acoustic interlude on “Diliculum” that builds up nicely to an almost Nile-esque intro on “Graves (Pours of the Earth)” that sounds epic as all fuck, and just isn’t something you’re necessarily expecting to find on a product like this.

Permeating the entire record is a seething energy and rage that owes much of itself to vocalist John Caytion’s performance – holding absolutely nothing back and complimenting perfectly with the absolute onslaught put forth by the rest of the band. The blackened, marching intro of “No Shepherd (of Wolves)” hits with such unbridled, unholy fury that can almost feel the evil seeping into your veins through your ears (listen, I never claimed to be a doctor). And yet, despite all the venom and vitriol, there’s an undeniable energy about A Blazing Sun… that gives it a triumphant edge – a defiant, shit-grinning look into the face of God as you proclaim your freedom from His tyranny. From the album’s real set-off point of “Ice Cold Odyssey,” through the album’s all-consuming closer “Graves…” you just get the sense that this is a and seizing its opportunity to make its mark on the metal world come hell or high water.

Kudos also has to go out to everyone involved in the production of this album, because it sounds fantastic. Caytion’s vocals are able to maintain that cavernous Blackened Death quality while still ringing crystal clear through the mix, made more impressive by how heavily the guitars and drums are layered in. At the end of the day, it’s really the guitar tone that does it for me – super thick, with a perfect amount of crunch for maximum impact on those crushing riffs and breakdowns – but also really well nuanced when Givan and Laux decide to take their more subtle approaches. Just a superb job done all-around.

I feel like a lot of the time, it can take a little while for quality releases to get up to speed at the start of a new year – but 2022 has come out of the gate swinging, and damned if Slowbleed ain’t out here leading the pack with an absolute face-slammer in A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn. In an ever-growing field of crossover acts saturating the scene, I think Slowbleed is primed to take it by storm and catch a LOT of well-deserved attention in the coming year. You owe yourself a spin with this friggin’ freight train of a record.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
February 17th, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    Absolute banger, Steve. An early year-end list contender.


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