Leeched – To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse Review

Leeched - To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse 01Okay, kids. Admission time: I normally don’t look forward to January,1 at least when it comes to promo selection. Every year, January is the token month when seemingly every label releases all their one-person black metal projects en masse, and it usually falls on my furry shoulders to find new, creative ways to say, yet again, how a band sounds like certain outfits we no longer talk about. But no, not this year! This year, this damn January, Leeched saw fit to release To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse, the hotly anticipated (by me, at least) follow-up to their impressive debut, 2018’s You Took the Sun When You Left. I was eagerly awaiting filthy, undulating industrialized hardcore with so much dirt and grime that not even a lifetime supply of either Dove soap or Orbit gum could ever clean or freshen up.

Thankfully, I came away from To Dull the Blades mostly satisfied. Very little has changed in terms of their Nails-meets-Godflesh formula, and I am eternally thankful for that. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? What has changed is their production and mix. Usually, a mix this ugly and caustic would cripple most albums, but on To Dull the Blades, this overdriven sound works to Leeched’s advantage. The bass piles the filth on layer after layer, and the drums hammer with equal measures of mechanical coldness and methodical precision, especially where the bass drum is concerned. It takes the more nihilistic moments on To Dull the Blades and makes them beat your head with the same efficiency as a mallet wielded by one of the cultists in Midsommar.2

And those moments flood To Dull the Blades. From the militaristic drumming opening up “I, Flatline,” the band rarely gives the listener any respite, dragging them kicking and screaming with pummeling drums and riffs that coat you with filth. Laurie Morbey sounds even more venomous both vocally and in his bass, each howl and shout caked in anguish and anger. “Now It Ends” comes closest to rendering the (God)Flesh from the bone, its lurch and cadence slowly driving you into the earth. On the other spectrum, penultimate track (and highlight) “Let Me Die” sets an ominous tone with its pace, but ramps up quicker and quicker as the song throttles to its end, only to suddenly stop as it song returns to its opening industrial ambiance. Most of To Dull the Blades sees Leeched standing out amongst a sea of imitators and people who will never let us be one of them.

Leeched - To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse 02
But it’s not all smooth sailing. The two opening tracks pull things down a bit. “The Hound’s Jaw” starts off with a distorted spoken word piece before going into the song proper and, while neither half is bad, it does feel a bit disjointed. Its immediate follow-up, “The Grey Tide,” sounds like three complete songs squeezed into one five-minute cut. I legitimately thought I was already halfway through the album when I looked down and realized that I was still on the same track. Otherwise, Leeched did was I was hoping they would do, which is to take a winning formula, and dirty it up a bit to turn and level heads.

I call that a success. While You Took the Sun When You Left showcased Leeched’s promise, To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse capitalized on them while making sure to leave a massive impact. Sure, there are several bands looking to jump on to the dirtier end of hardcore and grind, but very few sound and feel this authentic. Even fewer have been played as many times as To Dull the Blades has. If this is the New January Trend, then I’m all in.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 1411 kbps WAV files
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: leeched.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Leechedmhc
Releases Worldwide: January 31st, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Is there a plural for January? Januarys? Januaries? Januarae? Help me out here, folks.
  2. THAT was an awesome vacation! – Steel
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