Written by: Izzy
The instant I heard the single “Earth and Sky," I knew I wanted to review To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse. Only once in a blue moon does a song that genuinely makes me want to destroy something appear, densely packed with crushing riffage and percussion--and this feeling was only solidified by the second single “I, Flatline,” which remains one of the most standout tracks on the album. At that moment it was decided, and here we are with our self fulfilling prophecy.
Much like the album in question, I wish not to waste even a moment before throwing you into an endless pummeling torrent that ends before you realize it’s over, leaving you dazed and confused for hours to come. In the case of To Dull The Blades of Your Abuse, the sophomore LP from Manchester’s Leeched, you will be brutalized by 36 minutes of back-to-back noisy, vicious, and unforgivingly heavy riffs that make you wanna punch somebody's lights out. In the case of my review, it’ll be the unnecessarily obtuse verbosity I write all my analyses with to make me sound smarter than I actually am that leaves you confounded as to what the hell half these words mean and why couldn’t I just say “Hi how are ya this album kicks ass you should listen” instead of writing this massive thinkpiece.
But that’s showbiz, baby! If the writing ain’t soaked in glue and glitter it ain’t gonna get no attention, so I invite you to enjoy some kickass brutal jams and expand your English lexicon with me this fine evening. [Or whenever I actually post this - Ed.]
Whether you purposefully sought out this review on a hunt for music with an irreverence for the human eardrum, or through some unfortunate twist of fate, you somehow unconsciously stumbled here--in which case, how are you? Can I get you a cup of tea? What you will find Leeched offers are riffs that hit hard and curb-stomp you to the ground, breakdowns invoking the feeling of a musical concussion, and coarse walls of animosity oozing noise. Everything about this project culminates into a feeling like having your face viciously grated against the concrete floor.
Lyrically, To Dull The Blades of Your Abuse is a misanthropic and twisted night terror, obsessed with pain, flesh, gore, violence and filth. As the title would suggest, it deals heavily with themes of trauma and abuse, described with a thick layer of metaphor and crypticity, with a vocal leitmotif of comparison of the lasting pain to bodily mutilation, burnt flesh ripped from your body, muscle torn from the sinew, lungs pierced by broken ribs. I’m starting to notice a bit of a trend with me reviewing music that’s influenced by emotional pain and suffering.
Clearly I must just be a very charismatic cheery person. It’s rather hard to distinguish most of the lyrics in the songs themselves, that being partially due to the nature of harsh vocals and of this style of music, but also because of an issue I’ll bring up next. So if you are somebody who is faint of heart--well, you probably shouldn’t be listening to this album in the first place, but even so, read into the lyrics at your own discretion.
Now, while this is without a doubt one of my favourite 2020 releases thus far, there is one glaring problem this album has that holds it back. The vocal audio is absolutely buried. Typically, you want vocals front and center for an album of this style, as it helps cut through the instrumentals and helps with grounding the groove, which can be very easily lost in such a noisy and chaotic form of music. Here, they are faint, still audible, but they get smothered easily by the loud guitars and frantic drumming, and this severely kneecaps the potential power and punch they could have. They end up playing second fiddle to the rest of the band, and while it doesn’t ruin a single song, it makes me a little mournful at the thought of what could’ve been. Much like an angry bear tied up with a single rubber band, this doesn’t hold the album back much, but it’s such a tiny thing that I don’t see why they couldn’t have just fixed it, unless it was an intentional and conscious stylistic choice.
In the end, I do love this album, after a rather boring month of releases in January, having something so exceptionally virulent as this to cap the month off was a bit of a treat. Only time will tell if this album has the power to stick with me, but for the time being it will definitely get played quite a bit around these parts.
Leeched - To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse was released Jan. 31st from Prosthetic Records
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.