“This is Love, This is Murderous” lifted Bleeding Through out of murky underground obscurity, and though it was a little uneven and rough around the edges, it was powerful, sincere, and unique. “The Truth” saw them heading down a slightly softer, more accessible road, though they still retained a seething bite. I was worried that they would tone it down even more with “Declaration,” following in the footsteps of All That Remains, In Flames, etc. I was wrong- in fact they went in the complete opposite direction and churned out a scorching masterpiece that makes their previous efforts look like mere sound checks.
Remember how surprised you were with Soulfly’s “Dark Ages?” Everyone was saying “Boy, Max is really mad.” With “Declaration,” every song boils with hatred and fury. Of course, they were always angry- they’re a metal band. But the venom flying off this album isn’t the mournful “b*&%& you broke my heart” hate, it’s way beyond that. With that said, it translates into an album that will doubtless alienate many fans of their earlier work, but I see this as the natural evolution of their sound. They always had a creepy, semi-goth vibe to their thrash/hardcore heaviness, and it’s full throttle here. I would dissect this album as 30% hardcore, 30% death metal/thrash, and 40% black metal. There are grim staccato riffs and blastbeats a-plenty, accompanied by terrifying shrieks and bellows. Imagine if “Waking the Fallen” era Avenged Sevenfold, Slayer, and Emperor had a drunken orgy. Actually don’t imagine that, but throw these bands into a meat grinder, turn it up to 11 and you’ve got “Declaration.”
I applaud them for fleeing the well-trod road of commercial accessibility and making an album that will shock and awe their audience with it’s fury, power, and bleakness. There are still a few melodic moments and the breakdowns are in abundance, so it’s still unquestionably Bleeding Through, but they’ve pulled a Barry Bonds and chugged the steriods en masse and become a terrifying metal behemoth. In a year of monster releases (Slipknot, Metallica, Soulfly, Opeth, etc.), “Declaration” stands out as the most pleasant and blistering surprise of the year. Twenty seconds into the second song (the first is an ethereal intro), your jaw will be on the floor, I promise.