Adeleaide’s Truth Corroded have long been one of the most respected names in Australian metal. Yet, although they’ve been putting out brilliant releases since the early years of the new millennium, they’ve never achieved the same level of exposure or international acclaim as many of their peers. All that has the potential to change, however, with the release of their sixth full-length Bloodlands. The album has been getting a real push from their new label and, although it doesn’t quite reach the same heights as their past few releases, it remains a rewarding offering of thrash-infused death metal that demands your attention.
Bloodlands cements Truth Corroded’s transition from being a primarily thrash-based outfit to being a distinctly death metal act. The band’s sound had been growing more and more extreme with each release, and had tipped well into the realms of extreme metal with their previous release, The Saviours Slain (2013). However, while that album indulged in frantic, neck-snapping paces, Bloodlands is a much more measured affair that relishes in its grooves. In that way, it’s almost the inverse of its predecessor – punctuating its beefy stomp with fast thrash breaks, instead of dropping out of the chaos into a pounding groove. As a result, the songs – although no less potent – feel less distinct from each other than they have in Truth Corroded’s past. The tracks’ almost static four-and-a-half minute run-times, similarly, lend it a sense of uniformity. In the past, tracks like “Pride of Demise” or “As a River They Bleed” have popped precisely because of the changes in pace they bring to the table. Conversely, the songs on Bloodlands often feel like variations on a similar theme and, though breathtaking in isolation, have a tendency to blend together when placed back to back. The album, which was mixed and mastered by Chris “Zeuss” Harris (Demon Hunter, Overkill), also sounds a bit more sonically sterile when compared to the more jagged presentation of their previous records.
The step up to a bigger label also seems to have brought in a number of high profile guest spots. The last couple of Truth Corroded albums have featured a few low-profile guest spots from the likes of Jonas Kjellgren (ex-Carnal Forge / Scar Symmetry), Forbidden‘s Craig Locicero and late Malevolent Creation frontman Bret Hoffman. However, Bloodlands is a virtually star-studded affair. Kevin Talley (ex-Chimaira / Dying Fetus), who has played on every Truth Corroded record since 2011’s Worship the Bled, returns behind the kit – although this time he is joined his one-time Misery Index bandmate Mark Kloeppel for “Of Open Eyes And Willing Hands”. The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Ryan Knight also shows up on “The Leeches Feed”, while Suffocation‘s Terrance Hobbs brings a blistering solo to album-opener “To the Carnal Earth”. There’s also an unidentified female vocalist on “The Storm”, whose additions recall Psycroptic‘s similar experiments on their most recent offering, As The Kingdom Drowns (2018). The biggest, and most surprising guest, however, is Deftones‘ Stephen Carpenter, who is given a chance to exercise his reportedly-stifled muscles on the album’s epic, near-ten-minute closer “I Once Breathed”. The track is a surprisingly atmospheric one, and Carpenter’s contributions are remarkably subtle – given the setting he’s been thrown into – but, once you know he’s there, his tones are unmistakable.
If there’s any band who deserve a shot at the big(ger) leagues, it’s Truth Corroded, and Bloodlands appears to be providing them that opportunity. However, it also suggests that they’re at their without all the added excesses. The album remains outstanding on a moment-to-moment basis. However it feels less dynamic and distinctive than the band’s previous offerings. The multitude of guests it brings to the table provides some cool trivia, but their contributions are also often undetectable and pull focus away from lead guitarist Chris Walden, who has some serious chops and remains one of the most underrated guitarists in the Australian metal scene. Bloodlands is an outstanding effort which will likely blow away many newcomers. However, it perhaps better constitutes a gateway into their broader catalogue, rather than the pinnacle of their output.
. . .
Bloodlands is out tomorrow, via Unique Leader, and can be ordered through the label’s bandcamp page.