Insolent—to defy authority, command or subjugation. While not so outright and “edgy” as the term rebel, it packs a certain punch—a hint of disdain and aggression mixed with metered, tactful intelligence that imparts a more mature lashing-out against the authoritarian ties-that-bind. It’s practiced, poised, composed revolt, lacking the disorder and disarray of youthful bitterness.
But make no mistake—it’s still very bitter.
That’s the sentiment one takes away from the first spin through the debut full-length record by Texan titans Bloodline, aptly titled Insolent. Sharp, catchy, crushingly heavy all while maintaining a mix of youthful exhuberance and jaded, dreary blight, Insolent is a little too mature to come off as another angst-ridden folly of fury and being held down by “the Man.” Instead, it’s personal, pushing the boundaries of contemporary metalcore by adding subtle splashes of groove and nu-metal as well as a unique, authentic element that gives it a raw and unhinged feel. Laden with riffs, dancy two-steps and—of course—more than enough mosh fuel to spark the next World War, Insolent will have the listener’s hands swinging and eyes seeing red before the first song passes.
Bloodline’s debut EP was one that took a very conventional spin on metalcore and added equal parts heft and crunch to create what was, essentially, a run-of-the-mill heavy release on steroids. That isn’t to say it was bad—far from it, it excels at exactly what it sets out to do, but compared to the sprawling ambitions evident on Insolent, its vision is…limited. Insolent sees the quartet aiming for the stars and coming damn close to getting there—beginning with the pummeling percussion from Matt Dierkes. Dierkes takes a foundation of hectic, break-neck metal and infuses equal parts hardcore, nu-metal and the same fiery punch that gave his work on Bloodline’s breakout release ear-catching. Songs like “No Way Out,” “N.T.S.B.” and “Lifeless” see Dierkes’ work at the top of its game, comprised of talent and tremendous, huge but markedy more simple patterns with ease and brilliance. The result is a dynamic that includes fist-swinging, spin-kicking mosh-friendly segments as much as it include sprawling, scream-or-sing-a-long choruses and punchy, intense quick segments—the latter two of which being where bassist Jake Jones and Guitarist Titus Kirby truly shine. On songs like “Faded Memory,” or the aforementioned “Lifeliess,” Jones’ bass is thick and writhing while Kirby’s guitar is precise and sharp, cutting raw riffs and grisly grooves into the listener’s head. Jones brings beef enough to put Wendy’s slaughterhouses out of business on the ten-ton “Self-Diagnosed,” just as Dierkes’ drumming shines during the song’s second half, and Kirby’s fretwork is speedy and sinister. The take-away is simple—Bloodline work better together on Insolent than one could imagine, creating a cohesive unit that combined metalcore nu and old—as well as some raw Texan heat—to boast aggression by the boatload.
Where things get a little more headstrong, belligerent and—you guessed it—Insolent is where the vocals from frontman Joseph Thornburg come into play. Thornburg is immense and immolating for the duration of Insolent, using song after song to set the listener ablaze, saving only mere moments for ethereality and melody. The album’s opening number, “Insolent,” is one such example—where Thornburg’s range dominates evenly alongside his endurance. Meanwhile, “Faded Memory” sees a more open and emotional side to Thornburg (even if only barely) and “Born to Lose” is an adrenaline rush of a song, vaguely reminiscent of the late 2000’s After Me, the Flood-styled metalcore. Then, there are the songs in between and around the aforementioned—“Schizo,” aptly named—and “Stress Case.” These songs are tremendous, each in their own right, as Thornburg writes honest and open lyrics, delivering them with a ruthless, gritty roar that veers hither and to into sharp screeches where warranted. There are some moments where Thornburg, and by extension, Bloodline, find themselves sidestepping into predictable territory (“Let Me Go,” a strong track by any right, is guilty). While still a sharp step up from III, there remains the slight seconds scattered throughout Insolent where Bloodline remind us that they are, after all, human.
That humanity is part of the carnal, crushing draw to Insolent, however. Even as one who isn’t much a fan of nu-metal, I found myself—and find myself still—hooked on the brazen, sharp leads and belted vocal styles that draw from yester-year (or was it yester-decade?) and the nu-influence therein. Bloodline are blisteringly heavy and hotter than all Hell, but in a way infinitely more creative than their debut effort would have ever hinted at. Insolent does its name proud—a wellspring of youthful aggression—but even more, a carefully constructed display of blood-pumping, fist-swinging energy that demands to be experienced.
For Fans Of: VCTMS, Bloodbather, Slipknot, PRISON
By: Connor Welsh
Bass – Jake Jones, Guitar – titus Kirby Drummer – Matt Dierkes Vocals – Joseph Thornburg