It’s been a crazy 12 months for Dallas Texas Alternative Metalcore quartet Bloodline. Having dropped their pretty damn solid debut full length “Insolent” in 2017, an album laced in Nu-Metal tinged hardcore riffage, they have returned for a sophomore effort having signed to Stay Sick Recordings. Produced by vocalist and guitarist Titus Kirby and drummer Matt Dierkes, the band are searching for a “Better View”.
Opening tune “Step Back” is steeped in Nu-Metal nostalgia. Some buried electronics loop through the track, bleeding through in the quieter moments, while the punchy main riff and big drum sound have something of lesser lights of the Nu-Metal era about them. Lead vocalist Joseph Todd has something of the 40 Below Summer in his slow spoken word ache. “Same Stories” continues the bands move left of the sound that they had on debut “Insolent” with the extremes pushing out. Some pummelling kit work and Deathcore esq growls are a accompanied by some downtempo breakdown riffage at one point. But there is also a large injection of melody and stomp in there. “Dark Days” brings a stuccato stomp riff that swirls an introspective dual vocal. “I don’t want to die I just want to sleep forever”. The haunting almost inaudible sample loop adds an eerie touch while Jake Jones bass brings some thunderous moments.
Following an eerie programmed intro, Bloodline return to the sound of their debut “Empty Cage” for some hammer down chugging riffage and hardcore growl verse work. The Palisades esq clean sung chorus is bizarre the first few times you hear it. It doesn’t make sense in the context of the heavier parts that are the heaviest to the point on the album. Fortunately it does grow on you by the later spins. The sound of that clean chorus and accompanying guitar work is the core sound of the next tune “Blank Wall”, which contains the album title line. It’s a slow burner of a track that has a pace and groove to it but lacks any of the bite of the previous tune. Appearing out of nowhere “The Way It Goes” roars into an opening verse with some far far heavier riffs and brutal vocals. While it does step away from that in a couple of places, it’s a far heavier tune and a thoroughly enjoyable one. Riffs a plenty and some of the finest kit work on the album, it’s a tale of being in a band and others wanting hand outs after you’ve worked hard to get where you are.
Keeping up the pace and energy “Lie To Me” has a brooding dark edge to it. The tale of a broken relationship and wanting to move on but being somehow stuck, it has a weight and gravity lyrically that is matched by some of the riffs as the band fuse melody with Hardcore. “Come And Get It” has a Metallic Hardcore styling to it with Jones and Kirby throwing vocal lines and the pitch difference between their voices works really well. There is a Biohazard vibe to it that gives it something else and showcases some other facets to the band musically. “Surrender” has an electronicore intro with beats being replaced by some phat chugging guitars quickly. Again that heavier vocal is broken by a more melodic one and the electronics resurface with some buried icy synths. In the review of “Insolent” we mentioned that Bloodline have something of the more recent Upon A Burning Body albums about them. That is very evident on this cut and there are times when you could easily mistake the two bands if you didn’t know better. How they’ve managed to find a sound that floats between Palisades and UABB seamlessly switching the genres is a question that is begging for an answer. “Faceless Master” steps thing up to a heavier gauge to end things on a bloody nose of a note. Blast beats and breakdown slabs are overlayed by some of the albums finest unclean vocals with some tight tempo changes while keeping that groove. Soaking the closing 90 seconds or so in feedback and bouncing between Metallic Hardcore riffs with some Thrashier tones finishes things in style.
Extremes have pushed out for Bloodline in the last 12 months and this new album is perhaps an attempt at a more expansive and grown up sound. What we end up with is an album that wears it’s influences on its sleeve once more while the introduction of more melodic Nu-Metal inspired elements leaves it feeling flat in places. Where you want it to step up, it steps down. There is more than enough on here to keep you entertained but it lacks some of the punch of the bands debut [6/10]