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Blackened metalcore? - 71%

robotiq, May 3rd, 2021

It is easy to forget how many ‘metal’ bands flooded the hardcore scene back in the late 90s. None of these bands had much long-term impact, but their overt metalness set the template for hybrids that continue to this day. I stopped following this sub-scene by about 2003 (prompting a big CD cull), but I was participating when Spread the Disease released “We Bleed from Many Wounds". This is an interesting debut. The band emerged from other Canadian metallic hardcore acts like New Day Rising and Acrid, but Spread the Disease took everything a step further in terms of being 'metal'. This band were as metal as any hardcore-scene band ever got. I’m not convinced that there are any traces of hardcore here. There are a few chugs, but chugs appear in metal too. There are a few emotional screamy parts, but plenty of metal bands have also used those tricks.

I can't pin this record to a particular metal sub-genre though. There are elements of black metal (including spooky keyboards), but doesn't sound like a black metal record. It doesn’t sound cold, hypnotic or epic like bands from the Norwegian second wave. The song structures are somewhat akin to death metal, though it doesn’t sound much like death metal either. The vocals have that gravelly, raspy quality that sounds evil as hell. It reminds me most of bands like Unruh and other similar extreme hardcore bands. However, Spread the Disease had a different riffing style to those bands. There are few punk-based riffs here. Their riffs are much closer to Slayer than they are to bands like Union of Uranus (who must have also been an influence). The only thing that reveals Spread the Disease as belonging to the hardcore scene is the association with Eulogy Recordings. This label was run by John Wylie from Morning Again. There are some slight riffing similarities with Morning Again, but Spread the Disease sounded much more evil.

Musically, this is a poisonous record. There are demonic moments throughout. The keyboards sound a bit amateurish but never misplaced. Nothing is polished. There are a few missed beats and some timing errors. Most ‘metal’ bands would have tidied these idiosyncrasies up. Spread the Disease kept it raw. I like that. Some of the guitar harmonics are particularly nasty sounding (in a good way). Look deeper and you’ll hear the occasional Possessed riff, like in the middle of "Her Severed Head". There is plenty of Slayer-esque chugging and occasional use of tremolo picking. The breakdowns are hard, but never telegraphed or predictable. There are slight hints of the band's past in New Day Rising, such as the quiet part of “Ephemerae” or the soft opening of "Hymn for the Unheard". The latter develops into an overt black metal riff, which is perhaps the finest moment on the album.

This is a good record. It appealed to me when I was sick of typical extreme metal narratives back in 1998. Has it stood the test of time? Perhaps. Records like this operate in a limbo space nowadays, forgotten by the hardcore and metal scenes alike. The limbo of Spread the Disease is even deeper because they didn’t follow the metalcore trends of the time. They weren’t borrowing from Rorschach and Deadguy, they didn’t have those Slayer breakdowns, and they weren't doing the emerging ‘At the Gates-core’ sound either. “We Bleed from Many Wounds” is the sound of a local-level band playing hard, dark metal with some hardcore energy. This record is worth a couple of listens, particularly if you’re interested in where the idea of genres like 'deathcore' come from.