The term metalcore has come to mean different things to different people, effectively stretching to three circles of the subgenre Venn diagram. There’s the source meaning, a direct mix of hardcore and metal that spawned in the mid-to-late nineties from innovators such as Earth Crisis, Integrity et al, the post-Killswitch Engage US (and Scandinavian) variant, that nowadays seems to manifest in a multitude of watered down Atreyu doppelgangers, and finally there’s the thicker, more tech metal-tinged UK strand. And it is predominantly in this third circle of hell that we find Nottingham (UK)’s The Five Hundred with their debut full-length Bleed Red (Longbranch).
The opening, title track is a great introduction to both the band and the album, strong chunky guitars, a infectiously dominant vocal hook backed with a cool gang chant, and the band show they have to components in them to write rock club anthems… essential to winning over crowds on the road as they step up their profile-building supports.
Interlaced throughout the album are pulses of the band stepping up the power and quality; ‘Buried’ and the dark tech metal feral roar of ‘I Am The Undead’ especially. All through, the quintet bounces around within the usual confines of the metalcore box, with each track bringing its own hook. Mark Byrne and Paul Doughty work well off each other’s guitar work, and there are some blistering solos, while Johnathan Woods-Eley switches from powerful roars to Dallas Green styled cleans.
At heart, Bleed Red feels like it could have been released at any point in the last few years as it represents a culmination of influences and the sound of a band still collating and establishing their own identity rather than any progressive move or flag in the ground statement, with particular reference to Bring Me The Horizon, Architects and alexisonfire. Nonetheless The Five Hundred has produced a very strong first outing that pulls together an enjoyable listenability with grooves, heaviness, energy, power and hooks in a promising collection that, with a little more individuality and looking ahead rather than back into their existing record collections, could see them really make large strides up the metal ladder and into the public’s conscience.