Review: The Bleeding – Morbid Prophecy

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… in which we find that not everything was great in 2019.

Following Bork’s recent Krvsade review, we had a little discussion about thrash metal in the comments. It seems that it’s not just my impression that the genre tends to feel somewhat uninspired and that innovators are few and far between ever since the 80s ended. For the most part, there’s clean thrash and sloppy thrash, each with minor variations, but you don’t really get the plethora of different approaches you have in black and death metal. I’m sure I’m disregarding some evidence here and would welcome more voices to weigh in on this assertion. In any case, whatever breath of fresh air thrash metal might need, Morbid Prophecy is not it.

The Bleeding are proponents of the clean kind of thrash that is not indebted to (read: trying to ape) any of the grandaddys of the genre. The guitars have a satisfyingly full sound that, unburdened by the obligations of replicating a certain era, boast enough power to give the music some heft. That’s pretty much the best I can say, because when it comes to what they actually play, I can’t claim I remember much of it. The riffs are… fine. They get the job done. Rarely impressive, but always good enough. The same goes for the solos. They’re often fun but can fall a bit on the wanky side when they alternate between drawn-out squeals and ultra-fast picking that just tries a little too hard. The bass guitar has a pretty cool rattling sound that is present throughout, but likewise fails to wow me with what it does.

The one who suffers the most from the clean sound is the drummer, whose kit ends up sounding woefully plastic-y. I suspect there are triggers involved, making for a uniform, lifeless sound that gets particularly egregious whenever blast beats come up. Those are the parts I haven’t gotten used to even after several spins. Why people want to resemble drum computers is beyond me (the Dutch school of thought seems to be that it’s a lack of skill, but let’s not go there).

That only leaves the singer, who likewise took some getting used to but has grown on me a lot. His shrieking style nudges the overall sound in a slightly more brutal direction, sitting somewhere between Vektor and classic Skeletonwitch—not quite as sick as the former and not as blackened as the latter. He does enough to give the music some much-needed edge and help it stand out a bit. Nonetheless, it’s hard to come up with anything but vague statements after the album is over. Music was played. A time was had. That’s about it for the most part. Like a lot of present-day thrash, Morbid Prophecy elicits mostly shrugs. Not awful, not great.

But lest you think this review is a total waste of time, I want to point out “Storm of the Hellspawn,” an unexpected highlight of the record. Here’s where The Bleeding show off what’s possible when their stars align. I suspect the drummer may have written this one, as he’s easily the star of the show. The rhythms and fills venture into more complex territory and feel very well thought out. Also, no blast beats. Even the guitars surpass the status of “serviceable,” feeling like they’re making things happen instead of just being there. Everything sounds more creative and it’s fun to follow the song through its tempo changes. More of this in the future could be pretty awesome. Let’s hope for the best.

Morbid Prophecy is available on Bandcamp and via World War Now Records. Follow the band here.

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