For a band whose first mark upon the world was a sub-ten minute barrage of furious extremity, Leeched certainly cram a lot into their sound. Combining metallic hardcore, powerviolence, sludge and post-metal (and everything in between), the Manchester trio come bearing gifts of squealing guitars, jarring industrial noise and monstrous breakdowns – just don’t expect any small talk as To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse pummels through in just over half an hour.
They manage to fit the cogs of potentially at-odds influences neatly together, with the contradictory tempos of the group’s multi-genre scope allowing the songs to soar rather than stifle, yet the eternally bleak, suffocating wall of riffs and distorted bass never ceases despite the constantly shifting BPM. Where less competent songwriters would have birthed a disjointed mess, Leeched unveil a commendable sense of cohesion – a facet of the band’s output that has improved with every new release and something especially noticeable as they explore new territories.
To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse continues this trajectory, with opener “The Hound’s Jaw” sitting somewhere between Godflesh and Swans with its scathing, industrial drones before guitarist Judd Langley enters with a towering riff that, rather than assuming control of the trio’s sound, shares an equal dominance with the contributions from all three band members. Tom Hansell’s pounding drum-work remains a key creative element within the mesmerizing ferocity that Leeched appear to concoct so effortlessly, while Laurie Morbey’s bellowed roars and tremor-inducing basslines add substantial weight to the group’s already incredibly dense cacophony – the latter accentuated by the immense production (courtesy of Joe Clayton at NO STUDIO) and more devastating here than ever before.
The album is a statement as blunt and awash with feral aggression as it is hypnotic and all-encompassing and should be consumed in a single sitting – an experience as full of life as it is coated in an almost-ritualistic misery. The bounce and groove of “Praise Your Blades” and the pummelling highlight of “I, Flatline” are a testament to that experience, with insatiable songwriting throughout that both entices and punishes equally. The songs often end with a sudden, unnerving silence that deepens the ominous mood – “The Grey Tide” striking and visceral with the closing thunderous yells of “take a last breath, make it stop, make it stop.”
Continuing this pattern, “Now It Ends” is inescapably dark and sinister, channelling Converge during their most lumbering, crushing moments and conjuring a nightmarish soundscape that would have Amenra looking over their shoulders. On the opposite side of the spectrum, “Earth and Ash” barrels through in a furious blast of grinding hardcore and inescapably heavy sludge, ending in an almighty wave of bit-crushed distortion and malignant atmosphere that permeates the album so gleefully.
Taking the already-fiercely-conveyed sense of anger and hopelessness captured on 2018 debut full-length You Took The Sun When You Left and pouring another bucket of fuel on their fire, Leeched have now evolved into something altogether more ravenous. The subject matter is as bleak as we’ve come to expect from the Mancunians, yet the sheer hunger and passion that seeps into the music are certain to put a grin on the faces of all who appreciate music this dark. With the continued rise of inventive genre cross-pollination, the trio throws out their most potent and desolate offering yet; a perfect reflection of the stark, monochrome artwork that has become their trademark. To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse is coming soon to a festering, needle-littered underpass near you.
To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse Track Listing:
01. The Hound’s Jaw
02. The Grey Tide
03. I, Flatline
04. Now it Ends
05. Earth and Ash
06. Famine at the Gates
07. Praise Your Blades
08. Burn With Me
09. Let Me Die
10. Black Sun Ceremony
Run Time: 36:05
Release Date: January 31, 2020
Record Label: Prosthetic Records