With a pedigree that includes former members of VISION OF DISORDER (vocalist Tim Williams and guitarist Mike Kennedy) and a brother (Kyle) of MASTODON's Troy Sanders on bass, one might be inclined to think the music of BLOODSIMPLE shares at least one thing in common with those bands: aggression. And one would be right to make such an assumption, as "Red Harvest" is nothing if not in-your-face modern American metal, albeit the kind with some level of commercial appeal.
Led by the strong production of Machine (LAMB OF GOD, EVERY TIME I DIE) and BLOODSIMPLE, and Tim Williams' varied, no holds barred vocals, "Red Harvest" not only keeps it interesting, but keeps it heavy, the one exception being the somewhat ill fitting (but acceptable), ballad-esque "Truth (Thicker than Water)". The album starts off with a bang on "Ride with Me". Beginning with Williams' best Jim Morrison impression, reciting the classic lines from "The End" ("The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on…") and ultimately exploding into a molasses-thick riff/groove and launched with Williams' Morrison shout of "I want to fuck you," the cut is a defining one for the band. The song is a highlight, but fortunately not the only one. "Dark Helmet" combines the group's most aggressive moments on the verse and their most infectious (along with "Out to Get You") on the chorus, while the chunky refrain on "Dead Man Walking" is downright peppy. It is on "Death from Above" and the violently defiant "Whiskey Bent and Hellbound (Hellmyr)" — also with a Morrison-esque, storytelling intro — that BLOODSIMPLE lets it all hang out, metallically speaking. In the latter case, how can you go wrong with lyrics as direct and unpretentious as these? "What is the problem with drinkin' whiskey and smokin' weed?" A couple of tunes, "Killing Time" (for the moderately irksome chorus) and "Numina Infuscata", fall into the average range, but do nothing to truly impact the album in a negative manner. Finally, rather than sticking closely to a formula on "Red Harvest", BLOODSIMPLE mixes up the arrangements quite effectively.
Folks may argue over the relative worth of VISION OF DISORDER, but you'd be hard pressed to ever question the aggression level. Some of that VOD venom is heard on "Red Harvest", but so are bits and pieces of bands as diverse as MARILYN MANSON (the heavy stuff) and, in a vague sense, DEVILDRIVER. The good news is that BLOODSIMPLE does not sound exactly like any of them. "Red Harvest" is one album that the purists and those with more of a mainstream metal taste may be able to agree upon, and not because it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It is a simple matter of bringing together three very important elements: attitude, tunefulness, and punch.