It’s very rare that I get excited by any metal bands that sound as ‘modern’ as Nottingham quintet The Five Hundred. But there’s a first time for everything I guess, and the band have an indefinable something about them that draws the ear and piques the interest even of a young(ish) traditionalist like me.
The band formed less than three years ago and have been making steady progress via a gruelling policy of supporting the best (and not so best) in the extreme metal world, with names like Tesseract, All Shall Perish, Napalm Death and Fear Factory now able to trip off their collective tongues as former stage partners at one time or another.
Actually those four bands named above give a pretty good idea as to what you’ll hear on Bleed Red if you haven’t yet encountered one of the three singles they’ve released over the last few weeks. The title track of the album probably sees the band in their best light, alternating between bludgeon and melody with fleet-footed alacrity and highlighting just what a superb – and versatile – voice vocalist Johnathan Woods-Eley has. He’s a real find.
Bassist Andy Crawford is prominent throughout too, possessing a beautifully bowel-rattling tone and a pretty nifty technique on crushing tracks like Smoke and Mirrors.
Oblivion is quite superb, piling on the melody despite the remorseless riff barrages being laid down by Mark Byrne and Paul Doughty. And let’s not forget the man behind the kit, Kelsey James, who keeps up a punishing attack throughout not only this song but the whole album. Some crystalline lead work rounds the whole thing off, leaving me thinking that fans of Aussies Caligula’s Horse might find much to attach themselves to here.
That’s not to say there are too many rambling passages of prog-minded over-indulgence, however; The band keeps things short and snappy for the most part, never allowing songs to stagnate or ideas to wear themselves thin. Choruses are arrived at quickly and efficiently, and by and large they hit paydirt every time. Possessed both of a likeable immediacy and a gratifying heaviness on songs like the quite excellent The Noose, The Five Hundred’s debut album is that rare thing – a slab of modern metal that has the strength of personality to appeal to fans right across the heavy spectrum. Welcome, lads – and here’s to many more if they’re going to be as good as Bleed Red!
The Five Hundred will release Bleed Red through Long Branch Records on August 17th.