Time can be cruel. One of the UK's most respected modern forces, BLEED FROM WITHIN emerged at a time when the Scots' blend of brutal metalcore and post-New Wave Of American Heavy Metal grooves was as close to the mainstream flow of things as it was possible to be. Over the course of four studio records, they have seldom put a foot wrong, and in addition to being a widely hailed live band, BLEED FROM WITHIN could easily feel aggrieved that they haven't ascended to a higher level of success and acclaim. Them, as they say, are the breaks. They certainly deserve a resurge in prominence on the strength of "Fracture": a fifth album that does little to redefine the band, but that smashes the living shit out of every other young ensemble still ploughing this furrow. In truth, there are precious few bands that sound like this right now, and so rather than being some defiant throwback, "Fracture" immediately stands out; resolute, unrelenting and ever-so-slightly radical.
Now exhibiting the kind of confidence and authority that keeps the likes of MACHINE HEAD, DEVILDRIVER and LAMB OF GOD at the top of their respective games, BLEED FROM WITHIN have grown as songwriters, too. The strongest songs here — opener "The End of All We Know", the insanely catchy "Pathfinder" and the gnarly, SLIPKNOT-tinged "Fall Away" among them — eschew obvious post-millennial metal clichés in favor of what feels like an advanced, upgraded take on the form. Still a red-blooded heavy metal band at heart, BFW are as comfortable with a white-knuckle, thrash metal lead break as they are with a staccato, lurching beatdown (significantly, "Fall Away" has plenty of both), and when it comes to hooks, occasional nods to the radio-friendly niceties of the post-KILLSWITCH ENGAGE set are always perfectly pitched, intrinsically gritty and often buried deep in a claustrophobic shit-storm of riffs and machine-gun kicks. Even at a surly mid-pace, BLEED FROM WITHIN are far more "Roots" than "Rose of Sharyn": "Night Crossing" has a huge chorus that benefits greatly from the sheer ferocity of vocalist Scott Kennedy's delivery: no pre-pubescent crooning for these boys, thank Satan. Meanwhile, "Utopia" edges towards a more tech-metal approach, proggy textural touches included, while still sounding a runaway bulldozer clattering through your living room. A simple pleasure, perhaps, but a pleasure nonetheless.
A curmudgeon might argue that this style of metal reached saturation point a long time ago, but BLEED FROM WITHIN were always a cut above the rest and "Fracture" is a classy show of strength. Let's hope their persistence reaps righteous rewards this time around.