Bleed The Fifth
posted on 8/2007 By:
It’s been five long years since the pseudo-breakup of Fear Factory and the ensuing backhanded reformation that left “El Presidente” Dino Cazares out in the cold. Fans have waited impatiently for a full-fledged comeback from the machinegun maestro (as Asesino wasn’t exactly a vehicle for global domination) to counterpoint his former bandmates’ endeavors. As Fear Factory has soldiered on with wildly varying results, they’ve also basically hijacked Cazares’ musical identity. Here in the aftermath, the man must juggle the task of pleasing longtime fans (myself included) that are clamoring to hear his signature sound once again, while simultaneously taking care not to copy the band that he had founded in his own image. Wisely, he drives his new band Divine Heresy down death-lined avenues, while screaming “Fuck the haters!” out the window and flipping the world a fat, metal middle finger.
Obviously, his supporting crew is going dictate much of the appeal, as the man’s reputation is such that records will fly off the shelves due to name recognition alone. His much-publicized partnership with drumkit destructor Tim Yeung was as wise a move as he could’ve made, as these two seem destined to wreak cerebellum-fusing, sickeningly symbiotic destruction together for years to come. The big question mark that has been tattooed on this project is the arrival of heretofore unknown vocalist Tommy Vext, the unheralded rookie amid the grizzled vets. Unfortunately, his inconsistent vocal performance, as well as a lingering “Is this it?” feeling, ultimately detracts from Bleed The Fifth's resonance.
There’s really no fucking around to be had here. Dino and Tim have created a deliberate, hyper-tight speed machine, and they waste little time in showcasing its strength; it’s obvious that they’re out to prove something. The opening track shows that the awe-inspiring tandem of Yeung’s feet and Cazares’ right hand is so fluid and intuitive that you’d think the two men had shared the same womb. If you thought the Cazares/Herrera marriage was carnage-inducing, this duo will punch though your kidneys, pull out your spine, and whip you to death with it…with atomic precision. The gate-charging brutality is only tempered by Vext’s vocal delivery, which, in all honesty, is just too damn (gasp!) metalcore-ish. And that’s fine, I suppose, but the delivery of his harsh vocals remains fairly static throughout. Dude is wicked pissed, undoubtedly, but his profanity-laced, tough-guy diction lacks the death metal bite that is needed to punctuate this type of assault. There are countless times that this record shatters the needle on the heaviness meter, and if only Vext had some sick, looooooooow death rumblage in his repertoire, this band could trigger seismic shifts. Instead, some of his core-ish vocal cadences leave much to be desired, especially on lyrically-challenged cuts like “This Threat Is Real”.
However, his powerful clean choruses are nothing short of awesome (what, you thought this thing wasn’t going to follow the FF formula?), especially in the heart of the album. Those four cuts, “Impossible Is Nothing”, “Savior Self”, “Rise of the Scorned”, and “False Gospel”, all shockingly delicious diatribes of defiance, play to his strengths as a singer with their monolithic hooks. He’s got the pipes, the problem is that he just doesn’t have his own personality yet. Hordes of pretenders out there would sell their worthless souls to have Vext’s talent, but at the end of the day, he just sounds like an amalgamation of Burton C. Bell and Howard Jones. Credit must be given, though…he’s stepping to the plate in a big way on this debut album.
And a debut it is, folks. Even though it sounds exactly how you thought it would, the finished product is a tad underwhelming. This is not only due to Vext’s performance, but also the fact that there are at least two songs on here that are total clunkers…and this is among a few numbers that are just kinda there. Despite the players’ storied history, the fact that this is their first time writing together should not be lost on anyone. When pregnant with this much hype from fans and mega-labels alike, the ensuing birth is almost always a bit of a letdown, so it’s best to keep some perspective. There have been some sick seeds planted here, not only in regards to Dino’s newfound affection for actual guitar solos. There’s some undeniably FF-style cyber-bombs that pop up from time-to-time that are sure to moisten the eye of any longtime fan, and hopefully we'll see more of these in the future. And regardless if this material is metallically profound, it has an inherent Kataklysm-like quality to it that is sure to own some souls live. With the recruitment of death metal journeyman Joe Payne to fill the bass slot, these songs are absolutely, totally, 110% goddamn guaranteed to cave some chests in when jacked from some Marshall stacks. So buy a ticket, enjoy the ride, and decide for yourself…but it’s pretty damn obvious that we’ve got a Dying Fetus/Misery Index situation on our hands, and we all know how that story is playing out.
This isn’t Demanufacture by any means, but it certainly pisses all over freaking Transgression. Take the power back, D-Man. It’s good to have you around.
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