Right off the bat, the name Truth Corroded rang a bell. Further investigation reveals the band hail from my homeland of Australia, lurking in the metal scene since their formation way back in 1997. Yet despite the familiarity and possibility that I’ve caught them live before, Truth Corroded have never landed on my radar. So I was curious to hear what the veteran act could muster on their sixth full-length album and first since 2013. Adding to the intrigue, Truth Corroded have landed on the divisive Unique Leader roster for Bloodlands. With a lengthy history and swag of releases under their belts, can Truth Corroded sufficiently up their game to compete with the best of what 2019 death metal has to offer.
Although previously lumped into the metalcore category, Bloodlands is solidly rooted in testosterone-charged thrashy death, with a side of brutality. Featuring the slick, polished sound and technical proficiency expected from a band residing under the Unique Leader banner, Bloodlands is sleek, modern sounding stuff, played with energy and relentless, pedal to the floor pace. The band’s beefed up scene cred is solidified through a slew of impressive guest performers on the album, including legendary Suffocation axeslinger Terrance Hobbs on the blistering, thrashy velocity of opener “To the Carnal Earth.” Elsewhere, former The Black Dahlia Murder shred king Ryan Knight pops up, as does Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter on the moody but long-winded closer, “I Once Breathed.” Aside from the notable star power, Truth Corroded don’t deviate drastically off their charted course, although the results are somewhat mixed.
With their politically charged tirades and aggro, core-tinged bite, coupled with the technically impressive thrash-death formula, Truth Corroded vaguely resemble the cutthroat, albeit superior approach, of Scotland’s brilliant, and vastly underrated, Man Must Die. And it’s easy on a surface level to get caught up in the controlled sonic tornado of Bloodlands. Frenetically vicious cuts like “The Leeches Feed” and “Of Open Eyes and Willing Hands” are tight, headbangable gems, fueled by supercharged speed, smart tempo shifts, and pit-inducing grooves. Momentum slips on occasion due to less memorable songwriting and riffs that elusively slip through the cracks, leaving an empty feeling once the initial rush of adrenaline subsides. While there aren’t many downright clangers on offer, the impact of certain songs remains fleeting, such as the generic hardcore leanings that fall flat on the largely mid-paced “Conquest of Divide.”
“The Storm” breaks the mold with pleasing results, with its flashy melodic shredding, dramatic flair, female backing vocals, and seething climax, showcasing a more experimental edge. Otherwise, it’s business as usual. Despite my reservations about the song-writing, the punchy, albeit loud production, and strong individual performances are well executed. Unfortunately, the vocals leave a flat impression. The passionate and spiteful delivery can’t overcome the generic and fairly monotonous hardcore-ish bark. Some greater variation and deeper vox would work more effectively. Aside from a handful of ripping tracks, Bloodlands is a touch inconsistent and light on hooks, casting serious doubt of the album’s longer-term substance once the initial rush wears off.
Truth Corroded have been around the traps for a long time and Bloodlands is a musically accomplished, sharp and bludgeoning affair that hits hard and fast, pulling no punches in the process. I can certainly imagine the album appealing to certain listeners. And though I’ve enjoyed various songs and the aesthetic of Bloodlands, I’m not overly confident around the album’s mileage. However, if the veteran band trim the fat and come equipped with a stickier collection of riffs next time around, they may develop into a force to be reckoned with.