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Released: 2011, Divination Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Soulbleed is a Los Angeles based metalcore outfit who have just released their self-titled full length debut through Divination Records in the form of a slick looking digipack, complete with a deluxe full color glossy booklet and impressive album artwork on par with a major label release. Not bad for a first release guys!
"Malediction" introduces the listener to Soulbleed whose sound at it's core is made up of jumpy stop-start time changes showcased by the extremely precise rhythm section of bassist Elaina Bangma and drummer Jimmy Schultz. Steve Marshall's guitar playing definitely bears a heavy Dimebag Darrell/Pantera influence where as vocalist Dave Rubenhold step's up to the plate with an abrasive and throaty core approach that although rather one dimensional, suits the ten songs on tap. "Mindless" bounces and pummels, rolling out a slew of down tuned riffs that both sustain and then chug, complete with pinch harmonics and breakdowns that were the hallmarks of late nineties mallcore.
On "Burning Slow" vocalist Dave Rubenhold tries his best hand at a different vocal approach, that though still gruff, is several pegs below his usual super pissed off approach. Jimmy Schultz shines on this number as a percussive powerhouse, beating his skins to oblivion while remaining in the pocket throughout the songs duration. "Impersonation of Life" features the trickiest riffing on this offering, an explosive powder keg of an ass kicker as far as Soulbleed is concerned, with various shifts in tempo and tasteful leadwork.
Though this release has killer artwork and packaging, impressive performances and delivery, well recorded output and a nice thumping mix... it is not without it's faults. I'll start with my biggest gripe with this record, almost every single song is interchangeable. Every song starts in the same key and uses the same cookie cutter songwriting formula straight out of Coal Chamber 101 (that's musically speaking, the vocals are a tad meaner) save for "Impersonation of Life" all of the ten tracks sound damn near identical.
As tight as this band may be and believe me they ARE tight, their sound is completely dated. No self respecting metalhead in 2011 is listening to "Nu-Metal" or digging on rehashed late nineties jock rock. That is my opinion in a nutshell for what it's worth, taking away nothing from the very talented four band members themselves. I would merely suggest digging a little deeper creatively speaking in terms of vocal phrasing and delivery, in terms of songwriting (Try a song that doesn't begin and end in open E) with a little restructuring Soulbleed could be a force to reckon with in the future.
3. New Order
4. Burning Slow
5. Thorn In My Side
6. Slow Decay
7. Bed Of Nails
8. Impersonation Of Life
10. Drenched In Sorrow
Dave Rubenhold- Vocals
Steve Marshall - Guitar
Elaina Bangma- Bass
Jimmy Schultz- Drums
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