Bloodshot – Absence EP


Oxfordshire death metal crew, Bloodshot, formed in 2015 and have nine years under their belts but just one EP and a slew of singles to show for their efforts. They aim to change that with the release of their new record. It may be a sophomore EP rather than the debut album that’s within their capabilities, but it’s one hell of a statement. Absence is an ironic title for a band that often go into large periods of hibernation. You won’t be absent-minded for any of the twenty-eight minutes of action dished out here.

A malevolent digeridoo snarls like a warlord sending his tribe to battle in opener, ‘A Finite Life’, before the quartet fight their way into a mid-90s Sepultura riff of bubbling intensity. The syncopation and bounce effect dare to flirt with nu metal like Slipknot at their heaviest. Wait, isn’t this death metal? The sensational switch to tremolo rhythms and sixteenth notes in between the first two verse segments could be Decapitated in its might. Listen to the clarity of the drums in the mix and the vibration of the plectrum against the strings of the guitar. The fury of the sharp-tooth posturing will send you into flight mode when the fears take over. This band like to prepare you for the modulations of tempo with the alacrity of a magician who diverts your attention while he negotiates the next illusion.

Your instruction in ‘Demarcation’ is clear – jump, jump, jump, jump to the groove metal crunch of the guitars in the intro. Behold the power of the downward palm-muting as Macauley Luker roars into his mic like a psyched-up soldier fighting under extreme conditions. Yet the band insert a surprise melodic sequence of arpeggio shapes in the post-chorus section. The production is harder and heavier than a block of cement. This is as much groove metal as death metal. Observe how the mid-tempo crunch of ‘God Eater’ is powerful enough to make your nostrils flare. You can only marvel at the crispy guitar tone and precise rhythmic attack of the instruments in the mix. Underneath is a subtle use of keyboard atmospherics to fill the gaps in the riffing. It’s impressive how they reset the mood in the middle section to a contemplative succession of clean guitar shapes and aggressive whispers.

The riffs on this EP are sharper than a fifteenth-century Samurai sword. There’s no need for blast beats in ‘Dead Horizons’ when the guitars and drums lock in like component parts of a fearsome motor engine. Kataklsym fans will enjoy this song. The double-kick beats rumble like vengeful machines that cannot be silenced by human intervention. This is what a Boeing jet feels like at full throttle when the captain needs to take over the controls after the autopilot fails. Obey the riff and let it possess you.

It’s clear that Bloodshot identify Machine Head’s guitar tone as the foundation from which to build their songs. Closing effort, ‘Absence of Being’, displays the first sign of a sombre mood with guitars that pluck their strings like a post-punk outfit. This lasts for 01:40 before they change gear and embrace a lethal Hypocrisy-esque assault. It’s like they took Type O Negative and Machine Head from the mid-90s and merged them together. And they make every riff count. The eight minutes of action here are as lively as a blockbuster movie in cinematic surround sound.

Whether Bloodshot still qualify as a death metal band is up for debate, but their new EP dares to be exciting and free from the monotonous elements that make the genre so unlistenable these days. Puritans will hate it, which means they must be doing something right.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 02/02/2024

Record Label: Self-released

Standout tracks: God Eater, Dead Horizons

Suggested Further Listening: Flayed Disciple – A Hell in Living Flesh EP (2022), Beyond Grace – Welcome to the New Dark Ages, Part 1 (2023), The Bleeding – Monokrator (2023)