Old fashioned metalcore was a thing of beauty. Really, it was just so abrasive and unpredictable that it seems more than shameful to lump it into a last.fm tag alongside <can’t justify typing modern metalcore band names>. While most early metalcore bands have adapted, disbanded or fallen into obscurity (barring the obvious; you’re a Heavy Blog reader so you know who I mean), there are some folks out there who crave the crushing nature of all that is grizzly, detuned and chaotic. Bleak, all the way from Syracuse in New York, capture the feelings and atmosphere of their title so fittingly that the word should be used solely to describe this band’s music from here on out. When Cult Of Luna is too sparse or if Botch is a bit too grating, We Deserve Our Failures is the record that doesn’t straddle the line between the two, more like it jumps on the fence and berates it verbally. It gives it a good fucking kicking too, just for good measure.
This is pure decadence for fans of slack as shit bass strings and chord stabs that are probably illegal in the Bible Belt. The downtrodden nature of sludge bashes head on with math metal time signatures and guitar tones that belong in a basement show with one flickering strip light, toiling with every last volt to illuminate no more than one corner of the dingy space it belongs to. The math elements aren’t precise as the ones most are used to today; there are no precision cuts between stop starts, feedback and bass gargles fill this vacuum completely. “Guilt Tripper” and “Death By 1000 Cuts” are ballsy and bombastic, the latter using a brittle snare drum refrain and uneasy tempo changes to leave the listening experience entirely open to interpretation. There’s a multitude of musical techniques present here but they might be overlooked because of the overpowering nature of the production and the distinct lack of breathing room between passages. Even on the most doom laden of tracks, there’s still a sense of urgency that rises from the twisted guitar shrieks that appear to not even be real musical notes. It’s not easy to write music this textured yet retain a uniform sense of dread throughout. Bleak make it seem like a walk in a poorly lit park in a bad part of town.
We Deserve Our Failures is lo-fi, yes but it means well, sort of. This is not pretty music for sunny days nor is it music to put on to get someone out of a slump. It’s dark, dangerous and above all else it is heavy as shit. Where Pyrrhon melt synapses with bent to the point of no return strings and kaleidoscopic scales, Bleak harness the simpler end of the same tool. Both bands have frontmen who lose their shit over the microphone, bellowing our passages of lean nihilistic poetry. Bleak just hit a little bit more direct and a bit more unforgiving too. The final moments of closer “Eternal Silent Darkness”, swamped in feedback and dissonance, are just as heavy as the barrage of noise that is “Starvation Plague”. It doesn’t matter that none of the instruments get much of a chance to shine through the cacophony, it wouldn’t be necessary or useful. This is an important album for those craving the halcyon days, even though it could very well change their perception of the music that preceded it.
Bleak’s We Deserve Our Failures gets…