Nashville’s Bled to Submission exists at the intersection of crusty blackened punk of Trap Them, the noisy grind of Full of Hell, and the pounding USDM of Dying Fetus, putting them in league with similarly eclectic Nashville giants Yautja. A comparison to a band like Yautja–whose brilliance on this year’s The Lurch (reviewed here) finally seems to be earning the group the attention they deserve– shouldn’t be taken lightly, but Bled to Submission’s special bouquet of blackened sludge and grinding death is so powerful and so creatively composed that they, too, need to be on any reputable “must-listen of 2021” list. Released on Aaron Nichols’s exclusive and ever-reliable Nerve Altar, Bled to Submission’s Bury Them In The Graves They Dug For You, is a dynamic and dominant album, demanding that the world take notice of this dark artistry.
Isaiah Rodriguez, one of Bled to Submission’s guitarists, gave Cvlt Nation some background on the band. “Bled To Submission is currently made up of our lead vocalist and synth player, Jody Lester, Austin Strobel on guitar and vocals, J. Weilburg handling bass and noise, Ross Winchel on drums, and myself on guitar and noise as well. As far as other projects, Austin plays in an OSDM band called Mortius, Ross is in a great emo/indie/punk band called Smallville, and J. is a part of a multimedia noise collective called TRANCE//FURNACE, along with his other project, Images In Silence.”
While the band hasn’t released anything since 2018’s amazing Vermin, the songs on this newest EP are proof enough that the band has been busy honing their craft. While the music on Vermin was powerful and furious, these newer songs show a band that has matured into its own sound, still drawing from meaningful influences like Primitive Man, Gaza, Pig Destroyer, and Rotten Sound, but now possessing a more personal, individual sound, one that is just as bludgeoning and eviscerating as the music of the bands that came before them. Rodriguez says, “We’ve actually been super busy since we released Vermin back in 2018. We went through a few lineup changes, did a small tour with Pissed On, and have just been writing a LOT. Between this latest EP, a few forthcoming splits, a super sick collab record, and an eventual LP, we never really gave ourselves any time to waste. Bury Them… is just the start of it all.”
Regarding their musical and lyrical influences, Rodriguez continues, “A lot of our influence comes from bands like Indian, Dead In The Dirt, Dragged Into Sunlight, Yautja, and Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire. They’re all just so great haha. As far as lyrics/themes, this EP was really us reflecting all the negativity of the past few years. Between ever-expanding corporate greed, wealth inequality, gentrification, wars, police brutality, suppression and oppression of minorities and ‘the little guys,’ and just the general shitty nature of people, we really had a lot to fight back against with this EP. The title really says it all here.”
Opening and title track, “Bury Them In The Graves They Dug For You,” not only says it all, it also announces to any new listeners that this is a band that cannot be ignored, one that demands your attention, one that will change the way you listen to heavy music. The mammoth, throbbing down-picking that opens the album introduces a musical and lyrical landscape of Armageddon, a day of reckoning for corrupt and oppressive powers, rained down upon by “crimson clouds” and a “blood red sky.” The track is a proletarian march, pounding blood into the mud, on the way to obliterate the nobility so that, in the words of Diderot, “the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
Rodriguez says, “The writing process has been pretty consistent for us since day 1, but we did try to change things up a bit this time around. Usually, I’ll just bring in a song, have the guys learn it, and go from there, but this time we tried to make things more collaborative. It definitely made the process so much more fun and just made this material more nuanced, diverse, and chaotic, which I absolutely love.”
Nuanced, chaotic diversity is certainly an apt description for this collection of songs. Following the titanic title song–and after an unsettling 20-second noise track that sounds like a murder confession found on an old, VHS-tape–is the relatively brief but no less moving “Wasted Marrow,” an eruption of grinding death, hellish and technical. Combining guttural and blackened vocals to counterbalance the prodigious riffing and syncopated blitz of beats, the song leaves the listener on uneasy footing, feeling threatened and wary.
While bands like Primitive Man and Blood Incantation have been establishing Denver as one of the premier cities for doom and death, Nashville has been carving a niche for its own very special take on heavy music genres. Rodriguez says, “I feel like most people don’t think of Nashville as a hotbed for heavy bands, which is a total mistake. I honestly think some of the most innovative bands live here. This city has always had a rich and diverse culture, and it really shows in our heavy music scene. There are tons of amazing bands here in Nashville. Yautja is obviously the most well-known, but Thirdface, Bazookatooth, Thetan, Moru, 30 Nights Of Violence, Offhand, Pinion (RIP), and the newly transplanted Knoll are all absolute gems.”
Bled to Submission is indeed in great company with so many forward-thinking, genre-expanding bands putting the city on the proverbial map of heavy music. Even if they were the only band in a musical desert, however, the ingenuity and sincerity with which they approach music-making would be enough to draw the attention of the listening public. Their special blend of too-often segregated styles gives them a sound that is fully their own, a sound the world didn’t know it needed.
It is a good thing that Bled To Submission doesn’t exist in a cultural vacuum, for they enlisted one of Nashville’s cultural pillars, Shibby Poole (of Yautja, Thirdface, and Sallow), for engineering duties on this project. Rodriguez says, “It was an absolute blast working with Shibby! We’ve all known him for a while, and know that he’s a badass engineer, so the working relationship was just effortless and fun. He has a great ear for things and was already slightly familiar with our sound and style, so he knew exactly how to get the most out of us, and how to bring our vision to life. I can’t recommend working with him enough.”
Poole’s hand must be at least partly responsible for the monumental stature of this album. In addition to the band’s growth and creative prowess for inventive song structures and memorable riffs, the dynamic range of these songs is also impressive. “Obscured By The Sun, Pts. 1 & 2,” for instance, are sister tracks separated by a noisy, frenetic beatdown track (“Return Disfigured”) that serves as a startling intermission between the two monsters. These tracks seamlessly transition between grinding tremolos, jaw-breaking breakdowns, sludgy smoke-sessions, and dental-drill noisiness. “Pt. 2” is particularly climactic, emerging after “Return Disfigured” in an infernal triumph. While it doesn’t have any hints of power metal, it is undoubtedly powerful, even anthemic. It’s the kind of music that makes you stand up straighter, look people in the eye, and dare the world to throw something at you that no one else could handle.
If “Found, Alone” were on any other metal album, one would think that their streaming service had moved on to a new artist. The track sounds like an undiscovered recording from the Earth/The Bug collaboration, with drone, noise, hip-hop, and dub blending to prove that this band is capable of anything. While it is a sonic outlier, it is perfect within the context of the album, much like the Aphex Twin-esque “Fugue” on The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s Dissociation. The beat, which hints that the members responsible could easily branch off into a successful dub/noise side-project, booms and hisses over a lecture on claustrophobia and child psychology, and the resulting experience is breath-taking. Even suffocating.
This album is the band’s first with the immortal Nerve Altar label, an indication in itself that this band is doing something new and has achieved something great. Rogriguez says, “Working with Aaron/Nerve Altar is kind of surreal for me. I’ve looked up to Aaron and the label for a long time, and consider a lot of records on his roster to be favorites of mine. It still kind of blows my mind that we’re now a part of that. Trying to put out a record during Covid was definitely tough for us and our timeline though. It may have taken several months of limbo to finally get it out, but Aaron made things as easy and painless for us as possible. I can’t say enough good things about him and the brand/reputation that he’s built for himself. We’re just so grateful.”
Closing track is an appropriate closer to the album of pandemonium that preceded it. It is a tumultuous mass of Carcass-worship, nu-metal spacing, and Impending Doom death-drops. The song breaks down further and further, like a giant with its legs tethered, until all that’s left is the noisy ruins of the towering Bury Them In The Graves They Dug For You.
Asked for upcoming plans, Rodriquez says, “I think the biggest thing that I’d like people to know about us is simply that we have no intention of slowing down or growing stagnant. The newest material we’ve been working on is taking us into even darker and more extreme places. It’s exciting.” Exciting is the right word. This album sets a standard for darkness and extremity already, so if they have plans to go further with this extremely rewarding exploration, every fan of music should be keeping their ears open for future announcements from this band.
Rodriguez concludes with, “Come see us on the road whenever we can tour again, and pick up a copy of Bury Them In The Graves They Dug For You through Nerve Altar, or stream it wherever you stream music.”
Bury Them In The Graves They Dug For You was recorded by Shibby Poole.
It was produced by the band.
Cover art is by Derek R Setzer.