Artist: Bloodshot Dawn
Album Title: Reanimation
Label: Hostile Media
Date Of Release: 12 January 2018
The latest ‘new’ discovery for me in 2018 is a UK-based melodic death metal band by the name of Bloodshot Dawn. ‘Reanimation’ is the third full length record under the Bloodshot Dawn moniker but, in truth, it marks something of a brand new start. Since the release of their second album, ‘Demons’ in 2014, almost the entire band left, leaving founding member Josh McMorran on his own to contemplate his next steps.
Rather than throw in the towel, guitarist and vocalist McMorran decided to continue the venture and in time, a new band assembled itself around him. In came Canadian guitarist Morgan Reid, drummer James Stewart (Vader, Divine Chaos) and bassist Giacomo Gastaldi and together, ‘Reanimation’ has been created. And ‘together’ is the correct word because according to McMorran, this is the first Bloodshot Dawn record to have been written and produced collaboratively, involving all four members.
And the results on the aptly-titled ‘Reanimation’, which boasts guest appearances from Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy), Paul Wardingham, Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams, The Faceless) and Mendel Bij De Leij (Aborted), are nothing short of excellent. It took me a while to fully warm to the material but after a few concerted spins and some close listening, the penny dropped and I found myself succumbing to the considerable talents of this extreme metal quartet.
The output on ‘Reanimation’ can be best described as properly heavy and uncompromising death metal with a strong melodic thread that runs through the heart of the ten tracks. Think Scar Symmetry, think Arch Enemy, think Fear Factory. Then blend them all up, turn up the technical death metal element to max and simmer. Then, liberally sprinkle the songs with virtuosic performances from guitarists MCMorran and Reid and lace it with synths that add a vaguely sci-fi atmosphere and you’re getting close to understanding what this record sounds like. The latter is clearly and unequivocally underlined by the sci-fi cover that adorns the album.
The Scar Symmetry similarities are perhaps least surprising given that the axeman extraordinaire for the Swedish melodeath juggernaut, Per Nilsson, is responsible for the finishing touches to the guitars as well as mixing and mastering the album. One of the reasons why it took me a while to warm to ‘Reanimation’ however, was because initially, I felt that some of the more extreme parts came across as being too clinical, too dry and lacking in warmth. I occasionally still harbour these faint misgivings but in the main, I have been won over.
‘Reanimation’ kicks off in full attack mode, leaving literally nothing at the door. An impossibly fast drum roll from the hugely talented James Stewart lays the foundations upon which are laid some scything riffs and the kind of lead guitar gymnastics that rival the mighty Scar Symmetry for speed, complexity and musicality. The riffs continue unabated as the harsh vocals come into play for the first time. If I’m not mistaken, McMorran is not the only vocalist because I can hear two or three distinct deliveries – a higher-pitched caustic tone and a deep, guttural voice to name just two. I actually really like this approach as it is distinctly different from the currently more popular gruff/clean combination, lending the material a more intense and uncompromising sheen.
Nevertheless, throughout the opening song, there are some really nice melodic guitar licks, lightning fast solos and a gorgeous slower solo towards the end that shows that Bloodshot Dawn are not just all out shredders without soul. And all the while, drummer Stewart pummels the listener with warp-speed blastbeats and insane fills, whilst bassist Giacomo Gastaldi shows his prowess and dexterity whilst providing a rumbling pulse that’s audible for the most part but very occasionally gets lost a little in the tumult.
‘Graviton Nightmare’ continues the onslaught with barely time for a breath. The riffs dance and flit from idea to idea elaborately whilst I anything, the drums are even quicker. The melody is more pronounced too on this track, with the guitars delivering the same kind of playful exuberance as you’d find on ‘Burning Bridges’ era Arch Enemy.
My personal favourite however, has to be ‘Survival Evolved’. It opens with an impossibly catchy and immediate lead guitar lick that features at points throughout the song. In between, the intensity and brutality of the death metal is superb, offering something a little more organic and thrash-like in the process as well as a stomping groove in the mid portion of the song. The rhythm-section remains razor sharp and the guitar solos continue unabated. And then that lick reappears and I’m grinning again. This really is a stunning composition.
As the record develops, Bloodshot Dawn prove that they have the staying power and stamina because there’s no let-up in the intensity. Tracks like ‘Upon The Throne of Fear’ and ‘Soul Affliction’ for example, are all-out uncompromising technical death metal where the hooks and melodies are momentarily dialled down in favour of intense extremity.
But if its melody that you’re after, you’ll want to hear ‘Controlled Conscious’ because it contains a gorgeous chorus whilst the short interlude ‘DNA Reacquisition’ is pretty much the only time that the foot is taken off the accelerator to allow something slower to emerge, allowing the melody itself to take centre stage alongside more seven-string dexterity.
The title track then closes out this impressive record in a blaze of glory, at the same time reprising and building on the melodies heard within the aforementioned ‘Graviton Nightmare’. It’s nothing short of being the perfect majestic and anthemic ending that this album needs and fully deserves.
Melodic death metal often gets accused of being the softer, cuddlier sibling within the death metal family. However, Bloodshot Dawn have delivered an album that challenges that belief. There is no arguing that ‘Reanimation’ has plenty of melodic intent but in and around the more accessible moments are riffs galore, technical prowess, an unrelenting rhythm section and not a clean vocal in sight. In many ways, it is the perfect amalgamation, as the excellent end result testifies.
The Score Of Much Metal: 9
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here: