Following a studio drought after the breakthrough of 2013’s Uprising, Shrine is the third album from this Scottish mob in a fertile five-year period. And while its two predecessors provided well-aimed uppercuts to the mush, this is the closest Bleed From Within have come yet to a knockout blow.
Just as Parkway Drive’s Reverence seemed to take the Aussies’ well-honed metalcore to more glorious, ambitious realms, here the extra strings, keys and spoken-word passages between stomping opener I Am Damnation and majestic closer Paradise add more drama and character to the album. The violin-led Levitate is another track that revels in the pomp of its regal leads and towering peaks, with ample opportunity given for guitarist Craig Gowans to display his chops. Flesh And Stone follows suit before heading into the dirt with a guttural thud.
Crucially, it’s this wrecking-ball groove that makes Bleed From Within stand apart from generic metalcore bands. When they unleash it live, as on their recent Bullet For My Valentine support slot or own headline tours, they solidify bonds with longtime fans and win new admirers. The swagger of Sovereign and Stand Down, the thrashy Shapeshifter that’s propelled with gusto by Ali Richardson’s percussion, and Killing Time’s expertly needed groove, swells of strings and anthemic burst all provide solid platforms from which Scott Kennedy and Steven Jones can unleash their dual-vocal commands.
Yet again this an album boasting muscle, class and the righteous enthusiasm that the quintet exude during all their endeavours. What isn’t apparent, however, is whether it contains that one BFW-imprinted, genre-defining song or chorus that can elevate the band from homegrown heroes to leaders on the international stage. Even if that truly galvanising moment is yet to arrive, Shrine provides plenty of sturdy psalms to help them continue to spread the gospel.