London’s Death/Thrashers The Bleeding return with their third studio full-length, Monokrator, which sits alongside the three interspersed EPs they have also released over the last ten years. And what a fierce beast it is too.
The Bleeding – Monokrator (Redefining Darkness)
Release Date: 9 June 2023
Words: Jools Green
The thing I like about this release most of all is it’s not a retro Death/Thrash offering. It’s fresh, sharp, and it fits in with how the Metal scene has progressed over the last thirty-odd years. It has that great blackened undercurrent, adding a sinister edge, as well as a slight nod in the direction of Exodus and Destruction.
The eight-track, thirty-one-minute Monokrator is an end-to-end brutally engaging listen, charging into action with opener Chemical Lobotomy with its unstoppable drive, rapid vocal delivery, slick direction switching and searing second-half leadwork.
It continues to hurtle forward with Chainsaw Deathcult, again at a galloping pace. I love the vocal layering on this track. Midway, the pace plummets, but the crushing feel to the delivery is maintained, and an evil laugh heralds a rise in pace followed by a swathe of squealing leadwork.
Mutation Chamber takes a different route, with a sinister and hugely addictive death groove at its core, but there’s plenty of punch to the riffs. The lyrics are catchily engaging, and the leadwork tears it’s way to the surface. Such a superb track, it would be my favourite if the rest of the album wasn’t so damn superb.
Union Of Horror bursts into being with head-spinning spiralling riffs that repeat with driving bursts sandwiched in between. As for the leadwork, it’s soaring, squealing and sublime, and the vocal range is not just the acidic hisses of the previous tracks, but a deeper growl and a piercing scream also manifests. Could a track be slicker or more engaging? Well, the rest of the album certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Screams Of Torment charges forward, the riffs spiralling, the opening scream piercing, and the pace ramping up to the seemingly unstoppable. But then it develops into a bit of a breakdown. The lyrical delivery of the line “Screams of Torment!!!!” is chilling, but even more surprising is the sudden burst of soaring leadwork that follows.
On Wings of Tribulation has a superbly haunting repeat riff matched by the unnervingly acidic vocal delivery. When the pace picks up, there’s a slight blackened undercurrent to the track, too, which I absolutely love, and the protracted growl at the end really makes a statement.
Title track, Monokrator, is as sinister as it is groovy to open, but then it switches up a gear into a frantic Thrash drive. The direction changes are sharp, clean and full of surprises, and the second half burst of leadwork is rather good, too. A track guaranteed to get your head nodding and your fist punching the air.
The final piece, Throes of Repulsion, has a slightly sleazy, slightly sinister, slower groove to open, again ramping swiftly up to full throttle on an acidic vocal roar. It does drop back to that sublime groovy riff before developing a bass-led chug and searing leadwork. A stunningly well-composed piece that engages and surprises at every twist.
Monokrator is the best Thrash-based album I’ve heard in ages. It should have massive appeal to anyone who loves Death/Thrash that packs a punch.