IT'S fair to say that London "death thrashers" The Bleeding are not the most optimistic of chaps; at least that's the over-arching reaction when listening to their latest release 'Rites of Absolution'.
This is a full-on pessimistic vision of the human race and its multiple foibles, all laid against an unrelenting musical tapestry that nods to 'classic' thrash and death metal.
Therein could be a problem, treading over territory over-familiar to many. However, The Bleeding steer clear of any issue, by keeping true to that territory, yet managing to press their own stamp on it.
Take for example the insistent 'Crook and Flail' with its just beyond mid-tempo rhythm over-laid with drum fills, clever riffs and layered solos before upping the speed to hyper-drive. Done before? Yes. Done as well, not by many.
The album is not too wed upon trying to be one thing or another, Rather taking their own vision of music and their verdict on humanity; or lack thereof.
Title track 'Rites of Absolution' has an almost traditional thrash take, a bit like Kreator if they were on amphetamines, but retains structure, with no flailing about.
The clue to much of the album comes with the closer. They pay homage to the late Chuck Schindler with a cover of Death's 'Open Casket' reflecting the honesty of the original.
This song tips the hat to what The Bleeding have become since their début 'Death Eternal'. More poised, unafraid to wear their influences on their sleeves without becoming slaves to those influences.
Of course, like all bands they manage one tiny misstep. Do we need another instrumental opening to thrash albums?
That said it is the only flaw on this release. If you love your death metal it might be a bit too thrashy. If you love your thrash metal it may be too much death metal. But if you're that narrow-minded then you should listen to Ed Fucking Sheeran, because this is an album to revel in its musical vision, if not its miserable reflections on this fucked up species.
Review by Jonathan Traynor