Internal Bleeding - Imperium - (5/10)
Published on September 15, 2014
I recently found myself watching Summerslam, mainly because there was nothing else on TV but also because I am – despite my better judgment – a bit of a closet pro wrestling fan. Sure, I’ve grown a bit blasé about it all but it remains a guilty pleasure that I indulge when I’m in the mood. The same applies to brutal death metal and, borrowing a bit of pro wrestling parlance, a band like Internal Bleeding is a textbook example of what one would call a ‘jobber’ – the kind of midcard talent possessing little in the way of charm or skill and ultimately not really deserving of either cheers or jeers. They’ve been around for a long time though, 23 years in fact, and played a pivotal part in the formation of what would eventually become known as “slam” death metal. They never quite attained the same stature as the likes of Suffocation and Immolation however, and after a string of underwhelming albums during the mid to late 1990s and an abortive attempt at a comeback with 2004’s Onward to Mecca, they are back for another go-around with Imperium. New label, new line-up, new decade… do they finally have the goods to move up the card?
Err, not quite. The trouble with Internal Bleeding has been, and is likely to always be, their apparent inability to sell their slam-riddled death metal schtick for the duration of a full-length album. Hell, most of the time they fail to even make it stick in terms of individual songs, and Imperium is no different. There are moments of fleeting brilliance scattered throughout, like the seriously menacing riff that kicks off “The Pageantry of Savagery,” the brooding doom sections of the four part “Patterns of Force” and the atmospheric acoustic guitar and solo jam that ends off “Castigo Corpus Meum,” but for the most part they seem content to just chug-chug-chug their way through a bunch of songs that have less personality than Andy Murray has Wimbledon trophies. Even guest appearances by former vocalist Frank Rini and not one but TWO Suffocation members (Mullen and Hobbs) didn’t do much to stem the relentless tide of mediocrity. The inclusion of former Pyrexia vocalist Keith Devito is a positive, however, as I definitely find his John Tardy impression a much better fit for this band than some of the standard phlegm-garglers they’ve employed in the past.
I’m always a bit inclined to root for the underdog (or in this case, the also-ran), and as such I wanted to like this album – I really did – but perhaps it’s just time to face cold, hard facts here: these guys were never that much of an exciting proposition back when this style was at its peak and they’re an even less exciting one now. Their gritty determination is nothing short of commendable, and I’m glad they finally have a stellar label and production team behind them, but their seemingly innate inability to cobble together good riffs, let alone good songs, will do naught but consign them to the great death metal scrapheap.