If you followed the metallic hardcore scene back in the '90s, Bloodlet shouldn't need an introduction. For the uninitiated, the Florida band's wicked combination of sludgy riffing, odd time signatures, moody interludes, and disquieting lyrics set them apart from most of their contemporaries during the era. Many hardcore purists felt Bloodlet were "too metal," while many more people found the group's musical and lyrical vision refreshing, dubbing them "evilcore" along the way.
Throughout the years, Bloodlet have had periods of inactivity, and their last studio album was the Steve Albini-engineered, Three Humid Nights in the Cypress Tree in 2002. Now that they're back to action as a touring entity, the band is returning with a two song EP titled, Viper in Hand, so I spoke with Bloodlet vocalist Scott Angelacos and drummer Charles King about their '90s beginnings, their new material's sound, and what the future may or may not hold for them.
After listening to the new material a few times when it was first sent to me, I got into a Bloodlet deep dive and it what stood out to me the most was how much your sound has evolved from those first few 7”s. It must be a trip for you guys to go back and listen to that era of the band since it’s far-removed from where you are now from a songwriting and stylistic standpoint.
We were really young when we started playing. But we always been interested in making music that was a little "off," so, we were experimenting a lot. Some of that worked out. A lot of it didn't. But, we wanted to make something that reflected who we are. Over time, we found some things that we think really work for us — things that suit our style and preferences. We like to have quiet moments, to hide rhythmic Easter eggs, to find deceptive meters. We have a love/hate relationship with our old material. I think we have always struggled with turning the sound in our heads into a recording. Seraphim was a great example of that. A lot of those songs are less of a departure from the songs on the other records than the different recording style may suggest.
Staying on the subject of Bloodlet in the ‘90s, there was always this aura around the band that people would bring up. You know, “those dudes are on some evil shit!” and stuff along those lines. How aware were you guys about that during that period? I think it’s fantastic!
Totally. All of the flyers had "Evilcore" on them. I guess that's what you get when you layer religious metaphors over bizarre music. It is funny, though, because I don't think we took it to the extreme that most death metal bands did, but the scenes were more separate back then. We just do what we do. I don't know whether its evil or not. But, I guess the evil people never do.
Since the new record features the Entheogen-era lineup of the band, do you think there’s a special sonic/stylistic ingredient back in the stew that might have been missing on other releases? It’s interesting since I hear a way more focused Bloodlet on these new tracks than ever before.
Well, Tom Crowther is on guitar and Jeremy Illges played on Entheogen, so the lineup isn't exactly the same, but Matt, Art and Charlie are all back together for the first time since Seraphim, so it's pretty cool to have everyone back in the room. There is definitely a stylistic change. Matt has always had an atypical guitar style. Art's fretless bass. Charlie's drumming was a big part of the old sound. But, at the end of the day the way all that stuff fits together is Bloodlet.
I suspect the focus is in contrast to the Seraphim songs. We were playing Serpahim on the road almost a year before we recorded it, so it grew a lot over time and evolved in lots of different directions. The newer songs are very much as written, so they're pretty clean.
I think “Choking on the Peat” is one of the best Bloodlet songs yet. It clocks in over 6 minutes but never feels that long. It’s a ripper.
Thanks! We're really proud of that song. "Choking on the Peat" focuses on the notion of death as art. If you assume that life is precious then the climax of life, death, most be the most precious of all. The song considers the idea that this divine moment in time should be captured for eternity giving everlasting life at the moment of death. The psychotic perspective of "Choking on the Peat" arises from the songs compulsion to capture this moment.
Musically, the song clearly follows the narrative as it starts frantically and gradually slows down to the final breath. We've always gravitated toward quiet, dynamic moments of paranoia in the midst of chaos. Choking pivots around the this reflective moment between the catalyst to action and the excitement of fulfillment.
Now that the old gang is (mostly) back together, how much road work do you see the band doing outside of the European tour with Darkest Hour? I imagine you’re all juggling careers/families?
Unclear. We are definitely all juggling a lot. We'll be going out as often as we can, but there's no master plan. We really want to get to the West Coast again soon.
If you could back in time to Bloodlet’s original run in the ‘90s, would change anything? That includes any business and musical decisions.
Oh... the internet doesn't have enough pages to capture all that.
Bloodlet x Darkest Hour European tour dates:
01/17 Karlsruhe, GER – Weiße Rose
01/18 Antwerp, BEL – Kavka
01/19 Paris, FRA – Petit Bain
01/20 Manchester, UK – Rebellion
01/21 London, UK – Underworld
01/22 Den Bosch, NET – Willem Twee
01/23 Leipzig, GER – Conne Island
01/24 Hamburg, GER – Logo
01/25 Berlin, GER – Bi Nuu
01/26 Warsaw, POL – Hydrozagdka
01/27 – Vienna, AT @ Arena
01/28 Prague, CZE – Futurm
01/29 Budapest, HUN – Durer Kert
01/30 Munich, GER – Backstage
01/31 Aarau, SWI – Kiff
02/01 Bochum, GER – Matrix