REVIEW: Bruise – Grief Ritual [2018]

Artist: Bruise

Album: Grief Ritual


Living is a cycle of developing attachments to places, things and people only to have them stripped away. Even when we’re surrounded by those things that carry our current fixation, we are all, on some level, still in a stage of mourning for those people and objects that now live on only in nostalgia. To live is to grieve and suffer the stinging sensation of loss that haunts every day.

Few releases capture this bitter suffering better than the breakout full-length record by metalcore outfit Bruise.

Grief Ritual is a gruesome and grisly amalgamation of hardcore, traditional metalcore and contemporary crisp production given a raw and rough emotional edge. Bruise are a blistering outfit that use atmosphere as excellently as they use aggression and ruthless brutality to drive home a poignant and punishing message of despair and the transient nature of mankind and the things we hold dear, giving fans of all things heavy an intriguing, thought-provoking and mosh-inducing series of anthems to feast their ears on.

Grief Ritual is a gritty and intense record that draws from as many kinds of metallic hardcore that the listener can fathom to make a unique and unstoppable listening experience. From the eerie introduction to “All Eyes”—a track which starts with subtlety but abandons it quickly—Bruise live up to their name, dedicating the majority of their record to inflicting as much soft tissue injury on the listener as they can muster. Grief Ritual is, primarily, a collection of short, stinging cuts that waste little time in bombarding the listener with punchy, frill-free drumming and brazen, bold fretwork built atop thick, devastating bass. The closing, crushing sequence of “All Eyes” is an excellent example: drums that don’t play around, heavier-than-hell slam-tinted fretwork and a snappy bass that can just slightly be heard in the deep and dissonant corners of the mix. “Resonate” is another example of Bruise in their no-bullshit, no-prisoners glory, a brief and gut-busting foray into heavy-handed metalcore at its finest. Meanwhile, “Second Life” is a little more brooding, channeling the bits of atmosphere that the opening portion of “All Eyes” hinted out, only for a mere 138 seconds before diving back into “Penalty Awaits,” one of the most skin-peeling and flesh-melting slabs of heavy the band have to offer. In this fashion, Bruise beat onward, crafting Grief Ritual, a dynamic and immersive record that doesn’t fail to keep the listener’s attention for its duration—something that is notoriously difficult for contemporary metallic hardcore releases.

In keeping with their raw sonic demeanor, Bruise’s vocal element is just as ferocious and ruthless as their instrumental aspects. From “All Eyes” and onward, Grief Ritual’s vocals combine desperation, aggression and energy into one immense maelstrom of power and passion. Some tracks—“Penalty Awaits” chief among them—seems to be a much more focused and pointed outburst of pissed-off pessimism, whereas other cuts, especially those defining the back-half of the record are more laden with a spectrum of emotions, lingering on a sort of depressively-tinted (but still punctual and pissed) gloom that flows with the more sullen moments of musicianship that seem to pop up more frequently as “Sands of Time” or “Blessing or a Curse” finish off the otherwise immense testament to tremendous metalcore that is Grief Ritual.

Bruise prove that, above all else, they’re a unique and dynamic force of metal-infused hardcore. While Bruise’s debut full-length effort is a little short and some songs—the title track among them—don’t carry the same lasting impact that others do, it’s thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly diverse. Where many artists in Bruise’s wheelhouse (established or new) have a hard enough time even putting together the material for a full-length release, even fewer can keep it interesting for its duration, which is something Grief Ritual has in spades. So, true, it isn’t perfect, and it remains (lovably) rough around the edges, it’s an excellent first-foot-forward for Bruise’s label debut and first full-length release—making it something well worth the 20-minutes-and-change to get familiar with.



For Fans Of: Vein, A Needle Under the Nail, Knocked Loose, Sledge, Left Behind

By: Connor Welsh