Released in 2003, Pass the Flask turned this little quintet from Tucson, into a mainstream success overnight. Classifying this band as ‘metalcore’ or ‘indie’ or ‘hardcore’ is quite futile, because for every genre you pick, someone is going to disagree, and have a solid backing for their view. Everyone however can agree that whatever The Bled are doing, they are doing it well.
This album bursts into action from the first song, and doesn’t let you down for 38 minutes. Personally I would like to see a longer album, but releasing a short disc like this sure does make you long for more. The album is very tight throughout, featuring a ‘machine gun’ riffing section in nearly every song. If you love the stereotypical ‘hardcore’ breakdowns, you will love every minute of this album.
As with all bands in the ‘metalcore’ genre, the guitar work on this album is fantastic, a great blend of soothing indie tones, contrasted next to dissonant riffing doubled by the bass guitar and kick drums. Showcased best in ‘The sound of sulfur’ guitarists; Jeremy Tally and Ross Ott put on a spectacular performance highlighted by the breakdown section half way through the song. Building slowly with one hard panned guitar, the riff slowly progresses over 8 bars, culminating in a machine gun section with a 4/4 crash beat forcing you to nod your head. ‘I hope he loves you like I did/ when you needed me / I came for you that night’
The vocals on this disc are nothing short of phenomenal, the band manages to turn a simplistic guitar melody and soothing vocal line ‘and I’d burn alive to keep you warm/when you’re alone/shiver under blankets in the basement” and slowly turn it into a thrash symphony that Metallica approve of. The most important aspect of music is dynamics; there is no use in playing something heavy unless you can juxtapose it next to something quiet. The band knows this, and they have crafted their songs masterfully using this concept.
Known for their intense stage show, the music conveys a sense of urgency, as if the band knew they need to have this music heard, and they aren’t going to sit down until you’ve heard exactly what they have to say. You will hear it, especially since I you’ll find yourself turning up your speakers periodically as the album progresses.
One of the most memorable moments on this disc comes on the 9th track, ‘we are the industry’ after 3 minutes of heavy riffing and screaming, the song slowly degrades into a simple guitar melody with calm, matter of fact vocals whispering ‘we are the industry / the birth and the death’ while the drumming and guitar slowly grows over the next few bars; adding a simple change every 4 bars gives the song an epic buildup, eventually the music, and vocals reach a fevered pitch and then drop off, into static.
If you’re looking for a solid album with heavy guitars, solid drumming and excellent screaming vocals, there is a damn good chance that you will enjoy the bled. If not, you have terrible taste in music, and you should be shot! Well, perhaps that isn’t the case, but I really like this disc, and I hope you do as well.