Grindcore is good. Grindcore has always been good, but one of the things I am the happiest about seeing in the genre is the evolution of a more mature sound coming out of bands doing modern grind. Not that I don’t like goofy minute-and-a-half songs about blood and gore, but I think, more now than ever, there are so many bands who are pushing the envelope for what the genre can do, and what its purpose in the larger metal community is. Chief among those bands is Toronto’s Bleeding Out, who grace us with their long-awaited debut Lifelong Death Fantasy.
Bleeding Out are newcomers on the deathgrind scene, but they have already managed to make a mark, both with their whip-smart blending of old school death metal and modern grind and their use of the violence inherent in the sonic palate of grindcore as a vehicle to speak on sociopolitical issues. “This is the soundtrack to a world that is somehow calmly repeating the atrocities of the past while we collectively look forward in fear. These eight songs represent a jagged, grinding assault of bleak inward vision coupled with unrelenting riffcraft,” says the band of their release. They really are not kidding about the unrelenting nature of this album either. In true fashion, the eight songs here span under 20 minutes, but in that short amount of time there’s plenty of frenzy and astonishingly good riffage. From twin guitar harmonies to chugging mid-tempo stompers, from slow, sludgy plods right into frantic, practically atonal assaults, this album seems to take a little bit of everything throughout the history of death metal and grindcore, put it in a blender and throw it all back out at you in one soupy glob. While that might not sound all that appealing, it works, and it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that it does. Their ability to write killer riffs is the special sauce that unites everything together in a cohesive package. Not to mention the fact that all of these nasty riffs and furious songwriting speaks to the band’s abhorrence with the state of the world today, which lends an extra layer of depth to Lifelong Death Fantasy that I think would be missing if they were about anything else.
It really can’t be overstated how much of a wallop these songs pack in such a quick runtime. This is not your typical grindcore, where the riffs get swallowed up in the atmosphere or the general cacophony. Bleeding Out truly embrace the “death” in deathgrind, and the way they mix tempos, feels and atmosphere over the course of the album shows just how smart their songwriting is and how much they have to offer the scene. Opener “Finally Dead Once More” begins with an almost power metal-like twin guitar harmony that immediately made me do a double take and make sure I was listening to the right album. Once the track faded into the title cut, it was immediately apparent that I was in deathgrind territory. Copious blast beats outline the beginning of the track, and the band comes back to the repeated section, but what they do in the middle, slowing things down and bringing the chugging, palm-muted riff to the forefront, really accentuates how good these riffs and these songs are. It makes them come alive and stand out individually, as well as a whole unit. Tracks like “Suffer Now, Suffer Later” and “Mechanized Decomposition” even have sludgy, doom-like elements in them, very reminiscent of the classic late 90’s Florida sound. That might be about as far as you can get geographically from Toronto, but they absolutely nail the aesthetic there, and on the other end of the spectrum. “Realm of Silence” is a nonstop hardcore-tinged circle pit romp that never quits for one second, and shorter cuts like “Perpetually Finite” are textbook grind, just the way you want to see it.
Both in the way the individual pieces come together to make each song stand out as unique, as well as the way they come together to tell a concise story about how fucked up absolutely everything currently is, Lifelong Death Fantasy is a stunning example of what can be achieved when good riffs come together with anger and passion. I think the use of the inherent chaos and rage in grindcore and death metal as a lens to look at the world is just about as smart as you can get, and it’s something we need more in the metal scene. There’s something to be said for using music as a way to escape the horrible timeline we’re trapped in, but I always tend to air on the side of music as a vehicle to speak up and speak out. I think with Lifelong Death Fantasy, more people are going to be listening.