One of the most anticipated releases of this year for me and, due to work, I forgot about it until a couple of days ago. When I realized that Heal (2017) by Bloodred Hourglass had already been realeased on 20th October, I rushed to listent to it. And, as I hoped, yes, they’ve made it again! Where the Oceans Burn (2015) had left the bar high, but Heal have had no problem cathing up. And I can say is, again, one of the best works I’ve listened this year so far. These guys are monsters: they’re masters of melody, masters of rythm, masters of keyboards, masters of structure, masters of production… And every single note of every single song bleeds passion. They have everything to go out there and eat alive most of today’s melodeath bands. But let’s go to the album.
In Heal, the band has decided to go for a less epic approach, not only regarding the mood of the music, but also the length of songs. In Where the Oceans Burn, there were two songs that lasted more than ten minutes, the first one and the last, while in Heal, the songs lengths are around four minutes except the ending one. Anyway, this change is hardly noticed, since song structures and variations are interesting enough, like if they lasted more and there was more room to innovation. The epic mood present in their previous album has drifted towards darkness, and keyboards, one of the elements that shone the most in Where the Oceans Burn in order to create the atmosphere of the music, here are equally important and balanced. And this is one of the things that I like most about this band: they know exactly how to use and where to place certain elements that add a lot to the whole without even noticing, nor abusing of them. Also, vocals still drift between growl and scream, something that can be a little annoying at first, but they put such an effort in accentuating this contrast that it seems they want it to be part of their distinctive style, so no problem with that. As a final general comment, metalcore influences in Heal are clearer and, although metalcore is a genre that I don’t like much, they have known how to use certain techniques to their own benefit.
The album opens with the single Quiet Complaint, a song that, honestly, I don’t like and I find it uninteresting, although I recognize that melody is really good. I have something with singles, never like them. It seems to me like a song I’ve listened before a lot of times and somehow remind me of their single for When the Oceans Burn, Valkyrie. The Last of Us is way heavier song that breaks in with a slow rythm and darker atmosphere. Verses are not much melodic, but when melody finally breaks in during the pre and chorus, it’s powerful, catchy and well constructed. Also, the house brand rythm changes keep things greatly interesting during the four minutes of song. The next track, Architects, is the first highlight that opens brutally, focusing in harsh rythm accompanied by a melody that always stands backwards until the chorus, where keyboards and melodic guitar takes the stage. After this point, the album has taken off and starts its unstoppable rise to reach perfection.
We Form the Broken is the absolute top song of the album for me. Mood turns epic as in the previous album, guitar and melody are insane, the best I’ve heard in a lot of time and don’t give you a rest. There are a lot of variations of rythm and structure. Vocals shine with that final growl that turns into a scream and that closes the song giving you the chills. Definetely my favorite, a roller-coaster of expression masterly compressed into a four minutes track. After that, Renmants sticks to the standard melodeath style, starting with a common rythm pattern and keeping low and heavy most of the song. Metalcore influence is clear in some simple breakdowns, but the middle part and bridge are specially complex and well built, until the final part when the melodic component returns again. Six Feat Savior is far more melodic than its precessor with some brutal passages and I specially like the smooth transitions between the different parts of the song and the heartfelt guitar work. Times We Had is an unexpected highlight, in the first place because I wasn’t expecting a love song with such a neat lyrics. And that’s something I’d like to point out: lyrics have improved a lot in this album. Also, guitars for this one are really original, specially during the pre chorus and verses, and melody keeps as amazing as always. Divinia reminds me a bit of Renmants (those metalcore breakdowns…), but guitar work here is one of the best that can be listened to in the album for both lead and rythmic. The closing song, Requiem of Our Last Days, starts with a soft and beautiful keyboard intro that leads to a rapid rythm passage where things keep low and melody-less. From that point, the music evolves through many phases where transitions are so good that they are hardly noticed, so that the only thing you have to do is relax and let the music lead you smoothly to the emotional last bars of this perfect work of art.
As final comment, Heal definetely measures up to Bloodred Hourglass previous awesome album. Although their style hasn’t changed much between these two works, I wasn’t expecting it either, because they’re a still a young band that has just found their identity and still have a lot left to say about it. Music and performance is filled with passion, creativity and freshness, essential points that a lot of bands out there lack, and because of that, Bloodred Hourglass deserve all the credit they can get. So go, listen to this album and spread the word, because is 100% recommendable and you’re gonna love it.