Metalcore is a confusing subgenre. Initially coined as a joke term back in the 90s for metallic hardcore bands like Hatebreed, this is a style that now encompasses such a broad variety of bands that it's almost completely meaningless. On one hand, you have bands like the aforementioned Hatebreed and Counterparts who are much closer to hardcore and post-hardcore than they are metal, and then you have bands like Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall who can be more described as metal bands that have hardcore influences. On top of that, metalcore became a dirty term in the late 2000s and early 2010s thanks to bands such as Asking Alexandria, which led to metalcore being synonymous with bands that use a lot of breakdowns and have very whiny nasally clean singing throughout their songs. Whilst this impression has thankfully died down in recent years, there are still the occasional people who will turn their noses up at anything described as metalcore, and unfortunately shielding themselves from discovering some great bands in the process.
Bleed From Within are a band from Scotland usually lumped into the metalcore subgenre. In this respect they are definitely closer to bands like Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall; they are a metal band through and through, and they're also one of the better examples of the style due to the fact they are very strong songwriters with the ability to write very technical songs that retain a lot of catchy hooks. This was perhaps best showcased on the band's last full-length, Era, released back in 2018.
Two years on from Era and Bleed From Within have returned with their fifth studio release, Fracture. This album picks right up from where Era left off, offering ten more tracks of the band's now trademark melodeath influenced metalcore sound, adding a few subtle tweaks to keep things interesting but relying mostly on their strong songwriting skill and sticking to what they have done for now 5 albums. Opening track 'The End of All We Know' doesn't leave anyone waiting, kicking the album off on a particularly high note thanks to some solid riffing and a very memorable chorus. The millennial woah's during said chorus may be a bit of a turn-off to some people, but overall it's a strong opener. Thankfully, the quality of the material stays consistently very strong throughout the ten tracks on Fracture, with Bleed From Within finding a good balance between technical metalcore bands such as Architects and the more melodeath end of the spectrum, occupied by bands like Heaven Shall Burn and Unearth.
Sixth track 'Night Crossing' is a definite highlight of the album, with a welcome guest appearance from Matt Heafy of Trivium, where Matt plays a guest guitar solo as opposed to a vocal performance. Whilst it would have been nice to hear some guest vocals on this album, the solo adds a new dynamic to Bleed From Within's sound that they should add to their sound more often in the future, especially given how melodic death metal has strongly influenced them. Unfortunately, if there is something to criticise about Fracture, it is the vocal performance. Whilst vocalist Scott Kennedy is a very capable frontman with a powerful set of chops, he has showcased much more of his vocal range in the past. He does add some pitch-screams into his singing here and there and the backup clean vocals by guitarist Steven Jones helps somewhat too, but his vocal performance on previous albums, particularly on 2013's Uprising, felt far more dynamic. Whilst the vocals aren't stale to the point of ruining the album as a whole, it would be nice to see Scott's vocal range utilised to its full potential on future releases.
Overall, Fracture is a fine release from Bleed From Within. It doesn't break new ground for the band and for the most part feels like a continuation of Era, but the album's shorter length means it doesn't outstay its welcome, and the technicality of the music combined with the strength of the songwriting helps to keep this a quality album despite the slight disappointment in the vocals. For what it is, Fracture is a good example of how a band can create a quality release that may not be anything particularly risky, but is saved by the strength of its songwriting, showcasing that Bleed From Within know what they're doing.
Fracture is released May 29th via Century Media Records. Purchase the album here.