FULL DISCLOSURE: These dudes are close friends of mine, but regardless, we're close enough that I could tell them their album was trash if it was. It's nice that it is anything but.


Syracuse's Bleak has been on a god damn warpath. After relentless weekends away, and other mini tours here and there, they embarked on a massive US tour in June, but not before they recorded their new full length We Deserve Our Failures. Bleak is one of the hardest working bands in heavy music right now, and their new album shows this same work ethic.

There's no screwing around on this album. From the time TJ Calandra's guitars open the first song Guilt Tripper, Bleak fires on all cylinders, pummeling the hell out of you. It isn't until the fourth song, Century of Youth, that things get pulled back a little, and the intensity is scaled down and melody creeps in. However, this hardly detracts from the heaviness. While one could say that this isn't the most varied album, there's no reason it needs to be. This is at it's core (see what I did there), a metalcore record, but the type of metalcore that existed long before it was a dirty word. There are no clean choruses to be had, no stupid haircuts present, and no breakdowns for the sake of getting karate kids acting a fool. The "metal" that forms the backbone of this band is sludgy as hell, but doesn't just plod along aimlessly. It is chaotic but organized. It often recalls Gaza's finest moments, incorporating grind and death metal influences, but never falling firmly in any camp. After listening to We Deserve Our Failures all the way through, I kinda felt like I got the crap kicked of me. But I liked it.


The music is chunky, off time, dissonant, and not constrained by verse/chorus/verse structure. Scott Thayer's vocals are a throaty roar, not leaving a lower end register for long, but perfectly complimentary to just how crushing everything sounds. The rhythm section of Matt Jamie and Nick Shelton isn't performing any acrobatics, but supplements the fullness of the guitar perfectly. TJ's riffs are by far the instrumental highlight of the band. He uses his guitar to create sounds and textures just as much as he uses it to play notes and chords. The production is perfect for this sort of record. There is no studio sheen here; everything sounds muddy but in all the right ways, and no one instrument dominates the mix at all.

Some bands will spend their whole careers attempting to make an album that rips as hard as Bleak's debut. To add to it, they're just as crushing live. Bleak is a band that deserves your attention and support. Give it to them.