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Truth or Dare? - 86%

Pfuntner, November 21st, 2008

Bleeding Through’s fourth album finds the band in the college stage of their coming of age story. Their previous three albums are still firmly cemented in their personality and sound, but they’ve taken the concepts from those records to the next level. They’ve also begun to indulge themselves in the more open-minded culture of their surroundings, most likely prompted by their roommates (they’d toured with bands ranging from AFI to Cult of Luna at this point in their career). What this means musically is that “The Truth” is very much the successor to “This is Love, This is Murderous” but fills the holes that plagued that album with new experiments the push and pull the band in multiple directions at once.

I usually dislike making a big deal about the production of an album, but in this case I really have no say in the matter. Listening to this album directly after the previous one, I nearly fell out of my seat. The whole album sounds HUGE in comparison with the last three. Every instrument is audible, even the bass. On top of clarity, there are also tons of bells and whistles such as phaser effects, flanged guitars and vocals, and spiraling guitar lines bouncing back from speaker to speaker. This is probably the most consistently noticeable element of Bleeding Through’s newfound experimentation. That and the surge of keyboard parts that pop up all over the place on this album. The opening track, “For Love and Failing” would have been a decent but underwhelming track on an older Bleeding Through album, but Marta Peterson’s keyboards bring it to the next level. I mean really, a synth lead in a Bleeding Through song? Who saw that coming?

The first two tracks of the album, keyboard leads aside, would do a great to convince listeners that this album is just more of the same but better. The previously mentioned opening track retains the quick fingered riffing of old Bleeding Through, with added blast beats and tremolo picked black metal riffs, and “Confession” focuses more on the churning, grinding death metal oriented parts that appeared in bulk on “This is Love, This is Murderous”. Once again dead set on breaking their own rules, Bleeding Through follow up with one of the best songs, “Love in Slow Motion”. This is the quintessential metalcore growl/croon song to end all growl/croon songs. The verses are straight up modern thrash metal and would fit in quite well in any of the revival acts running around these days. And then it segues perfectly into a grand over the top melodic chorus complete with keyboard flutters and vocal harmonies. And unlike most of the bands that stole this formula and made quick cash off of it, there’s no attempt to water down the heavier bits to fit the softer sections. If anything its the other way around.

This song says a good deal about “The Truth” as a whole. The band is pitting two very different instincts against each other. On one side, they’ve made a very obvious attempt to streamline their song writing for catchiness. On the other they clearly wanted to make this album even heavier and more in your face than their previous outings. The result is songs like “Kill To Believe” which alternate between skull crushing brutality and stadium ready sing-a-long choruses. Of course they still have a sweet tooth for non-stop riffage punctuated by breakdowns. “Dearly Demented” serves as this album’s “Number seven with a Gun” albeit with added keyboard parts and a guest vocal spot. It’s a big lumbering mosh pit ready number with a breakdown that avoids monotony by coming out of left field and centering itself on a riff that would fit into an Iced Earth album. But just as this track ends, the band takes a complete 180 and drops a power ballad on you. Yes you did read that right. This is the first of two songs that show Bleeding Through expanding into directions previously left untouched. The Truth is the band’s most accessible and radio friendly album, and “Line in the Sand” is living proof of that. This could have been a fantastic surprise but it has one problem; Brandan Shcleppati. Although he has continued to improve his singing since starting the band, his clean vocals still fall flat when they aren’t supported by strong melodies.

The second half of the album is considerably more effective than the first, which is a complete reversal of the last album. “She’s Gone” does everything the shorter songs off of “This is Love…” wanted to do and more. There is no reason other than the vocals that a fan of Chthonic wouldn’t dig this tune, especially considering that the ending piano bit is a dead ringer for one of the songs on “Seediq Bale”. “Tragedy of Empty Streets” is another shorter track that crams in the best riffs this band has to offer (the one that comes in at 1:00 is the best the band has ever done). The last two songs before the title track represent more of the schizophrenic urges that Bleeding Through struggle with on the album. “Return to Sender” highlights melodic singing and grandiose keyboard parts, along with short guitar solos, and “Hollywood Prison” embraces fast riffs, tough guy beat downs, and has the single most badass line lyric on the album. When some one says that they’ll rip out your spine after ten songs describing his emotional distress, you’d better believe that he’d do it.

The title track of the album is essentially a giant question mark. It’s a dark brooding post metal song, with no vocals, a bass solo and swooshing keyboard parts. If it weren’t for the production and keyboard settings, I could see this on an Isis album. After the last strands of feedback worm their way out of my speakers I am left wondering: “What is the true Bleeding Through?” Is it the poppy yet hyper aggressive songs in the first half of the album? Is it the rumbling brutality of the bands shorter tracks? The more experimental sections of this album show that The Truth often brings more questions than answers. Luckily for us, the band’s next album will set things straight once and for all.