The Bled are further proof that the future for the Tucson music scene looks brighter by the day. A local hardcore act that cut their teeth on the burgeoning Tucson punk scene, The Bled now have major backing with their latest release Found in the Flood. The album was just released on Vagrant and boasts the talents of punk-legend producer Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World) behind the boards.
The album kick-starts with "Hotel Coral Essex," which has all the trappings of the next great hardcore anthem. Rising and falling guitar waves? Check. A proggy, creeping intro? Check. Cryptic lyrics screamed, hollered and moaned? "If it starts to feel then we'll just shut if off again/We won't convince the jury, we're guilty 'til we die." Checkmate.
Despite having all the accouterments necessary to become another instantly forgettable hardcore album, Found in the Flood is frequently a breath of fresh air in a supremely stale scene. The Bled, led by the charge of soaring and screeching vocalist James Muņoz, manage to pull off hardcore with incredible self-confidence that seems lacking in many fellow acts.
Songs like "My Assassin" highlight the band's strengths. The duel guitar twangs and stabs of Jeremy Ray Talley and Ross Ott are perfectly in synch as the song's melody shifts in tempos. Meanwhile, the band shows the perfect amount of restraint as the chorus bursts into a searing piece of melancholy angst: "Maybe you could finally be the one/Who reaches in and saves me from the flood." The band is even equipped at experimentation as the song slows down for some electronic swirls and Mike Pedicone's drum-major rolls.
And that's just the beginning, as The Bled impress time and again on their sophomore release. Highlights include the creeping beauty of "Antarctica," the tempo-shifting emotional purging of "The Last American Cowboy" and the powder keg explosion rhythm of "Guttershark," which relies heavily on Pedicone's thunderous drumming and Darren Simoes thick basslines.
As good as they are, The Bled are still young and developing, and occasionally it shows. Sometimes the riffs on Found in the Flood rely on tired hardcore traditions like chunky powerchords and quiet to loud shifts of noise. Thankfully, they never fall into the grating category of screamo despite vocals that are quite frequently hollered.
Another plus is the lyrics, which are mostly superior when compared to most of the rubbish that populates the genre. A personal favorite comes from "The Last American Cowboy" when Muņoz manages to spit out the lines "Cast as the role of 'The Lover'/And I feel slightly misplaced in a world that's 'Fuck or Be Fucked'" without seeming juvenile or pandering to teenaged fans still amused by casual profanity.
Although The Bled are not at the same level as hardcore frontrunners like Blood Brothers and the standard-bearers Refused, they do not aim to be. Those bands also took plenty of time to develop into the politically charged, instrumentally varied behemoths they've become. Anyway, is it so wrong to root for the home team once in a while?