In one month, I’ll be having my 5-year anniversary with Angry Metal Guy and His Amazing Super-Friends, and I’ve learned some major lessons in those five years. First, you never ever leave the toilet seat up in the bathroom next to the dungeon my office. Second, use of the word “samey” is grounds for immediate extraction from our building by way of a high-powered pneumatic catapult. And finally, critique the music you are subjected to without the beautifully colored shades of hype from others. That last one is where we explore the debut album from Leeched, a promising three-piece from Manchester, England whose debut EP Nothing Will Grow From the Rotten Ground won them some critical acclaim from other sites and magazines. So with the last lesson in mind, I’ve got their debut full-length, You Took the Sun When You Left.
The problem here lies in the fact that the hype, long-winded and flowery as that beast can be, is absolutely justified here. I do take issue with how other reviewers are calling Leeched “the British Nails,” which shortchanges their intent with glaring inaccuracy. Sure, their breakdowns will not-so-gently remind you that you will never be one of them, but if there’s a well that they drink from, it’s nestled in the industrial parks that Godflesh constructed. That street-cleaning throb and cold, calculating aura pulses throughout You Took the Sun, as evidenced on “Guilt,” where bassist/vocalist Laurie Morbey howls while attacking his bass like G.C. Green. Even drummer Tom Hansell’s rhythms feel cold and calculating at times, though he retains just enough humanity to pummel you to dust on the title track and standout “A Mouth Full of Dirt.”
But while the Godflesh undercurrent flows throughout You Took the Sun‘s length, this is still a grindcore album at heart. Even this early in the game,1 Leeched know to keep things short, sweet, and relentless. “Roped” goes in, levels and shreds you, and then leaves after just over a minute. But even when the band stretches its wings to the three-minute mark, such as on “By the Factories,” they know to use the time given to their advantage, with guitarist Judd Langley throwing down atonal pick-scrapes, an odd harmonic here-and-there, and riff after heaving, unforgiving riff. That variety keeps you on your toes at all times, and rarely is a dull moment to be found on here.
That’s not to say that those moments don’t exist, however. Opener “Cripple the Herd,” while not a bad song, doesn’t build up to anything of note before “Roped” just decimates you immediately afterward. Also, trimming a minute or so of feedback off the end of “Harrow the Pastures” would work in the band’s favor. That said, Leeched prove to be lethal songwriters and performers already. Joe Clayton’s production also aids the album with thick, disgusting bass tones that punch through the guitars and drums, and yet doesn’t sound painful in all its crushing heft. Then again, I don’t usually look for dynamics in grindcore.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been floored by a grindcore album, and Leeched bull-rushed me with considerable ease with You Took the Sun When You Left. The scary part of all this is while the band showcased that they have the songwriting and musical chops to pull off an impressive feat on their debut, there is still considerable room for improvement. I’m frightened at the thought of what they can bring on their next go-’round. As it is, though, You Took the Sun When You Left is an ugly, visceral, and fucking magnificent beast of a debut.