Chicago's Bloodiest issued Descent in 2010, a six-track, album-length debut. It showcased a band deeply attracted to heavy, dark, atmospheric music created by trance-inducing riffs (made by three guitars), bass, piano, electronic keyboards, and massive drums, all surrounding Bruce Lamont's drone-laden vocals. It drew comparisons to records by Neurosis, Tool, and more. Five years on, Bloodiest (whose members have been culled from Sterling, Yakuza, Atombombpocketknife, 90 Day Men, Wrekmeister Harmonies, and more) issue a self-titled sophomore recording that few saw coming. They have pared down to a sextet with Nandini Khaund the lone keyboard player and new bassist Colin DeKuiper (ex-Russian Circles). While the post-metal lineage remains present on this Sanford Parker-produced set, Bloodiest are far more experimental in their approach to composition, sonic texture, and attack. This album would be vanguard metal if it didn't contain so many undeniable grooves. Despite abrupt, dramatic shifts in these eight songs, the circular repetition that brought listeners to Descent is still the bedrock of Bloodiest's m.o. First single "He Is Disease" opens with roaring six- and four-string drones, thudding snare and kick drums, and explosive cymbals. DeKuiper's low-tuned vamp goes head to head with Tony Lazzara and Eric Chaleff's churning guitar riffs and Khaund's blasted keyboard washes. They all but bury Lamont's vocals under their collective weight. Eventually, the guitars start chugging, increasing the tempo. By contrast, Cayce Key's drumming moves toward a slower 4/4, creating a dark, paranoid groove. Sonically, there is as much of Swans' knuckle-dragging plod in this mix as there is Neurosis' throb and burn. By contrast, "The Widow," played in waltz time, is driven by a slow, agitated bassline and double kick drums. Fingerpicked guitars and swelling keyboard sounds paint Lamont's devastated monotone vocal. It edges toward gray from the blackness, but never gets there. When the fire is lit, it swells into a harrowing funereal dirge. "Broken Teeth" sounds like its title. Introduced by a solitary but noisy guitar vamp complemented by squalling leads, Lamont's singing combines moaning (à la Nick Cave) and terrifying screaming (i.e., David Yow). The dirty swirl of keyboard scree and fuzzed-out bass whomp is almost eclipsed by a drum kit that's mixed way out front. Closer "Suffer" is the fastest, most out-of-control thing here. It compresses all the heaviness and darkness together, forcing a tension that explodes before it disintegrates. Its sheer power recalls the force of an early Ocean. Bloodiest use so many sources that they blur; inspirational origins leave traces, but in this band's insane brand of canny methodology, they become something wholly other under their own banner. As extreme music, Bloodiest is excessive, unforgiving, and unrelenting. It's bent and twisted. As such, this album nearly dictates compulsive listening.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek