Bloodletter – Funeral Hymns Review

This is year two of Covid and we’re still discovering new ways in which the pandemic is altering the way we live. For instance, we’ve received multiple 2021 promos for Funeral Hymns, the sophomore release from Chicago thrash metal band Bloodletter, but Metal Archives and Bandcamp say it was released in September of 2020. I’m sure we will have more situations like this in the next couple of months. In fact, my review for next week is in the exact same boat. Not knowing who to trust, I’ve decided to trust the only person that I can trust: yours truly. Whether this is a Thing You (and I) Might Have Missed from 2020 or a fresh new January (or February, according to one promo we received) release, I decided to give Funeral Hymns a chance to earn a review. Did I decide that this Bloodletter is worth opening or did I toss it with the rest of the junk mail?

Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you? I obviously I think it’s worthy of coverage. Duh! Bloodletter play a melodic and at times technical style of thrash-bordering-on-death metal. Funeral Hymns sounds like The Black Dahlia Murder’s Nocturnal with the death metal dialed down and some Warbringer and modern Kreator thrown in. Now, like TBDM before them, there’s a good chance that Bloodletter will probably have to field accusations of having too much -core in their metal, and while evaluating this record, I’ve gone back and forth on whether the mixture of sounds found on Funeral Hymns will garner followers from across genre bridges or alienate multiple camps. I’ll admit that the Gothenburg riffing style found on many of the tracks took me back to my Unearth and As I Lay Dying days, but for my money, the album’s 31 minutes are an intense exercise in headbanging thrash.

The guitar work of Peter Carparelli and Pat Armamentos really steals the show across much of Funeral Hymns. Just listen to embedded single “The Grim” to hear them weave classic thrash rhythms, melodeath riffs, and harmonized leads into a tapestry of violence. And that’s essentially the formula used throughout the rest of the record, with some songs leaning into the thrash realm while others stick close to the melodeath core. I have to say that I most enjoy the thrashier Bloodletter moments like “Burnt Beyond Recognition” and “I Am the End,” the latter of which sounds like it could find a home on any of Kreator’s recent records.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the melodeath found here, but I’ve always found that riffing style to have limited standout potential. I enjoy every moment of Funeral Hymns, but as the record winds down, there are moments where I’m thinking to myself, haven’t I heard this song already? This is also partially due to Carparelli’s mostly uniform vocal delivery. Everything sounds great on the record with the exception of the snare, which seems rather loud and dull, especially when the volume is cranked — and this is thrash, so it should always be cranked. But these are fairly superficial criticisms, and they did little to stop my enjoyment during the dozen-plus listens I gave the album. Highlights include “The Grim,” “Burnt Beyond Recognition,” “Mark of Justice,” and “I Am the End.”

I’m really interested to hear what people think about this record. Bloodletter execute their chosen style extremely well, but I’m torn on whether that style — which has more than a passing resemblance to 2000s metalcore — will gather much traction in this day in age. I, for one, think that Funeral Hymns is thoroughly enjoyable and more than worth the half-hour investment necessary to hear what it has to offer.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Petrichor Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 22nd, 2021?

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