This is the third full length studio album for German’s Bloodwork, a band who from my first listen are clearly indebted to the likes of modern day Soilwork. Hmm, modern melodic metal? Hmmmmm. Forming in 2007, these guys have done the rounds touring throughout Europe plying their melodic death metal/metalcore to fans far and wide.
The first thing to hit me are the harsh vocals of Michael Torka, which are actually pretty varied, coming on like a hulked up, pissed off Peter Tägtgren crossed with Angela Gossow on rag week. However, Bloodwork also utilize a lot of cleanly sung parts which sound equally like Warrel Dane and Devin Townsend in tonal style, contrasting the death grunts with crooning melodies. Although there’s a lot of decent, deathly riffage which actually sounds pretty impressive, it’s usually coupled with a lifeless grooving riff which is right out of the ‘metalcore 101’ handbook. The production is flawless, although this doesn’t really add much to my enjoyment of the album as it tends to feel overproduced and ‘too perfect’ more often than not. The lead guitar work can be pretty decent from time to time (particularly notable in ’All the Scars Remain’), but it still doesn’t change the fact that this has been done hundreds of times before, and generally done a lot better.
It’s the riffery which lets this album down in my opinion. I’ve never been the biggest advocate of melodic death metal which errs too far onto the side of the dreaded ‘core’, and this album highlights a lot of the reasons why. Although the powerful distorted guitars can crush you with their unforgiving nature, large quantities of the riffs on this album are made up of one of three different styles:
Style A, rhythmic open E string chugging
Style B, lowest common denominator two or three note power chord abuse, or
Style C, melodic octave chords which are generally used to back the cleanly sung sections.
The regular use of keyboards add in atmosphere (much in the same way as the aforementioned Soilwork use them), but that doesn’t claw the album back from the teetering on the edge of averageness, even when they attempt a bit of Dimmu Borgir styled pomp on the album’s title track ‘Zero’ to try to switch things up a bit.
To be fair, they can write some melodies. But, then again, so does some pop music. It just doesn’t work as a whole for me. I don’t hate this album, but at the same time it doesn’t move me whatsoever. To be honest, I don’t know which is worse – at least if it sucked balls it’d have provoked a strong reaction. My only feelings towards this are that of complete apathy.
(5/10 Lars Christiansen)