REVIEW: Thirteen Bled Promises – The Black Legend [2015]


Artist: Thirteen Bled Promises 

Album: The Black Legend


When last we left Thirteen Bled Promises at the conclusion of the bone-chilling debut full length Heliopause Fleets, we had witnessed the downfall of the Voyager-13 and all who were aboard it. More than that, however, we witnessed one of the strongest debut albums in deathcore history. The band’s unique combination of lightning-like speed and bone-grinding brutality left the listener obliterated—physically and emotionally unable to feel—but still craving more. Nearly three years later, this malevolent Madrid-based act are back, with a prequel to the events in their breakout release that sends the listener approximately  four hundred years in the past. The Black Legend is lurid, lacerating lore that is told atop a canvas of what may be the most crushing, pulverizing music this quartet have written to date. With skin-peeling slams and skull-shattering breakdowns slower than those on Heliopause Fleets sharply contrasting against faster, more technical riffs and grooves, The Black Legend is just that—a display of deathcore prowess that history will usher in as nothing short of legendary.

Instrumentally, Thirteen Bled Promise adapt their musicianship brilliantly to fit the concept driving The Black Legend. Where their debut oscillates between two clearly defined extremes, Thirteen Bled Promises have taken those and pushed them even further apart. The result? Heavy parts that hit harder, shred that cuts deeper and speed that puts their previously quick passages to shame. Percussionist Johnathan Heredia sets the pace for this: moments like the breakdown that defines “A Fully Stabbed Face” knock the listener on their back—while the album-ending display of savagery in“The Day After Roswell” crushes them like a steamroller. Heredia’s percussion is often hurried—built on a foundation of flashy blast beats and absurd fills—but is more than capable of launching into catchy, bizarre patterns—found aplenty in “Species Landfill.” Here, Heredia’s syncope with bassist Javier Cosmea is nothing short of stellar. Cosmea’s grooves are a perfect balance between snappy and smooth, harmonizing incredibly with Heredia’s thick kick drum and looking toms. “Sons of the Northward Clash” sees this dynamic continue to wreak havoc on the listener, setting the pace for the remainder of the album and working as a perfect jumping off point for the furious fretwork of guitarists Dario Urbistondo and Francisco Arrechea. This beastly duo range from technical death metal to brutal Deathcore and slam—while hitting everything in between. “Sons of the Northward Clash” is a lesson in tremolo-picked talent from Urbistondo and Arrechea, while “Year 666” and “A Fully Stabbed Face” are pure, unbridled heaviness. The mostly-instrumental epic “Death of an Alien” sees Urbistondo and Arrechea combining melody and murky grit to take over for the band’s vocalist, crafting dynamic soundscapes that keep the listener on the edge of their seat, despite the interlude-like nature of the song.

Where The Black Legend sees Thirteen Bled Promises breaking new ground instrumentally and widening their scope of influences and styles, the band do just the same vocally. Frontman Alvaro Alciturri has gone from a prominent talent to perhaps the underground’s most vicious and relentless voice yet. Every track sees Alciturri attacking the listener with grisly, guttural bellows and ghastly shrieks—and even a majority of the release sees him hitting an even more remarkable variety of styles—all while telling a conceptually-driven tale that doesn’t slack in lyrical content. Alciturri gives Thirteen Bled Promises more than just an incredible voice—he gives them direction and focus, making each riff, groove, chug and slam mean something. Alciturri’s vocal work is the steel cable that links all the incredible aspects of the band’s debut album together—allowing them to function as one machine, tearing the listener into subatomic shreds. Alciturry’s vocal excellence is the final step in the band realizing their fullest potential and becoming the manifestation of their potential that Heliopause Fleets hinted at.

Thirteen Bled Promises combine their previously-established heaviness and penchant for storytelling with a newfound love of epic, sprawling song-structure that grows past the band’s shreddy tendencies and brute-force heaviness. The Black Legend has its moments of no-holds-barred aggression: “A Fully Stabbed Face,” “Beeldenstorm” and “Year 666” especially—but that isn’t all it has. There are tracks like the (almost) instrumental “Death of an Alien” and “The Day After Roswell” that witness the band sprinkling hints of melodic death metal into the melting pot of murderous intent that is their established style of energetic, eviscerating deathcore. Even the album’s first full track, “Species Landfill” shows this—a new emphasis on diversity and various types of climaxes, rather than a continuous cycle of build ups and breakdowns. Thirteen Bled Promises are now a band as diverse as they are devastating—something the listener cannot fully appreciate until they witness the band for themselves.

Thirteen Bled Promises return to the forefront of crushing, monstrous deathcore with a powerful story and an even stronger display of sinister, skin-shredding music to back it up. The Black Legend is a complex, creative and comprehensive display of extreme styles of metal and deathcore, making it a captivating and must-listen experience for anyone who considers themselves veterans of the genre—or anyone looking to enter a wormhole that ends with their slow, agonizing demise.


For Fans Of: Nexilva, Rings of Saturn, Enterprise Earth, Xenobiotic

By: Connor Welsh