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Blindfolded And Led To The Woods - Rejecting Obliteration review

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Band: Blindfolded And Led To The Woods
Album: Rejecting Obliteration
Release date: May 2023

01. Monolith
02. Methlehem
03. Hallucinative Terror
04. Rejecting Obliteration
05. Wraith
06. Cicada
07. Funeral Smiles
08. The Waves
09. Hands Of Contrition
10. Caustic Burns

There’s enough cookie-cutter death metal available in Europe and the US to keep those searching for it satisfied virtually forever. Therefore, it’s perhaps not surprising that in the instances where a New Zealand death metal group’s reputation reaches the Northern Hemisphere, it’s because they’re doing things a bit differently.

Of course, Ulcerate are the standard bearers for Kiwi extreme metal, and The Temple (NZL) saw members of the former band further demonstrating their abilities. Moving our gaze from Auckland to Christchurch, there’s another name that stands out, as much for its length as for the music it represents, in the form of Blindfolded And Led To The Woods. Once a deathcore group, BALTTW somewhat reinvented themselves with 2021’s Nightmare Withdrawals, and Rejecting Obliteration builds on the groundwork left by its predecessor.

There are still elements of deathcore lingering on this album, but that is just one relatively small piece of a complex puzzle. Add to that a healthy portion of tech-death, a dash of dissonance, hints of blackened death, and some prog flexing, and you’re getting some way to grasping what BALTTW have accomplished on Rejecting Obliteration. It’s a record that is contorted, dizzying, abrasive and bludgeoning, and it’s also not one without surprises. See, for example, the surprisingly uplifting clean tones and melodic solo nestled within the madness of opener “Monolith”, or the rich melancholia in the blackgaze-inspired segments bookending “Hallucinative Terror”.

It doesn’t mean that every song is going to commit to such extremes in tone; “Methlehem” is pure gnarl, and is the better for it, the combination of jagged tech-death and brutal deathcore working a charm. The 2-minute “Funeral Smiles” opts for a similar combination, and with such a short runtime, finds no time to flirt with lighter sounds. Some tracks will also just take the pedal off the gas for the faintest moment, such as “The Waves”, which pulls back briefly for a mid-song quiet interlude that breaks up an assault of extreme metal that channels a very similar vibe to Wake’s emphatic transition record Devouring Ruin. Still, it’s arguably the stretch of Rejecting Obliteration that does feature the greatest range of tones and dynamics in which BALTTW shine brightest.

The title track is pretty light on cleaner moments, but its use of blackened chords adds a dimension missing from most other songs here, while its frenetic, ever-changing tech-death riffing serves up some tasty grooves. “Wraith” represents an immediate and firm shift in tone, with plenty of softer downtime amidst the pummelling, sludge beatdowns during which the group flex their proggier and more atmospherically inclined muscles; it’s a song that could have conceivably featured on last year’s Conjurer album, due to both its brutality and its willingness to incorporate subtle melody. The other major standout song on Rejecting Obliteration comes right afterwards; “Cicada” is ballistic in its most extreme moments, but it completely abandons such intensity in its lengthy midsection, which features touching tranquillity and stirring melody, if only for a moment.

In the span of 3 songs, Blindfolded And Led To The Woods make it abundantly clear that they are both prepared to plunge into the darkest of waters, and also embrace contrast and levity in key moments. It’s representative of a winning formula, and while the rest of the record lacks a song that quite matches the best moments in this mid-album stretch, the record as a whole continues to deliver satisfaction. BALTTW incorporate a lot of elements that sound familiar, but their fusion here is decidedly fresh and exciting.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 8

Written on 07.06.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 2   Visited by: 65 users
09.06.2023 - 06:05
Rating: 9
Tropical Goat
An album with hooks that take you to a brutal and technical experience. I love it.
13.07.2023 - 14:32

Takes a bit of time to access it, but then it hits.

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