Internal Bleeding – Corrupting Influence (2018)

If we had to concoct a subgenre that would be a form of Spinoza Ray Prozak Vijay Prozak Brett Stevens sonic Hell, it could well be slam: a death metal influenced continuation of what Pantera and Meshuggah did to speed metal, giving it a bit of groove and lots of chromatic fills based on rhythmic expectation. Internal Bleeding pretty much pioneered this subgenre.

After all, Pantera effectively dumbed down metal by providing a more popular, less complex vision of what it was to be extreme, bringing back blues rock, 1980s heavy metal, basic bitch Metallica ripoff speed metal, and hip-hop style ghetto aggression into a genre that was otherwise heading to nuanced, depth-ridden narratives comprised of interlocking internal dialogue formed of phrasal riffs. We were heading to the stars, and then… ¡bounce bounce! …we were brought to earth, and a particularly dumb patch, by Pantera. (Many of us see Die Antwoord and White Zombie as the ultimate fulfillment of what Pantera wanted to be.)

As if this were not bad enough, underground metal picked up on this influence despite having inspired it. Pantera borrowed its style from Exhorder, Prong, Exodus, and the bouncier moments of …And Justice For All, and then transmitted its bounce-virus to bands like Meshuggah, who brought back the big dumb riff approach that was used by speed metal bands that could not knit together multiple riffs into something interesting. The Pantera-fication of underground metal was an artistic and cultural disaster.

That being said, Corrupting Influence represents one of the better options in this field. Its core inspiration seems to be 1970s heavy metal from which it takes the broader, groove-oriented rhythms, to which it adds Meshuggah-style one-chord rhythmic coding and longer chromatic strikes which sound like they are straight from 1990s grindcore. We might read some industrial and hip-hop influences on this as well and not be wrong, even if those came filtered through intermediates like Anthrax, but the core of this music bears the stamp of the mid-1980s jaunty speed metal like Prong which was made a bit more immediate by Pantera at a later time, and the bluesy melodies and shifting, jazz-inspired rhythms of 1970s guitar rock.

Artistically slam aims for something else, which is discovering subconscious patterns that remind us of something discovered but only faintly remembered from the past. It is like an attempt to discover our first encounters with the basic rhythms and patterns of life that may have defined our childhoods, and in those oneiric structures to glimpse our relationship to our intuition. This is the “primitive caveman” aspect of the music which appeals to its listeners; it distills life to a few rudimentary patterns, and in that we see a hope of some kind of stability. Ultimately, this is music for children who grew up with a lot of doubt, which anyone from Generation X or the Millennials did, since they knew that they were living in Rome 2.0 falling before our eyes and yet every adult was firmly in denial. Everything was on fire, but they steadfastly refused to see any of it.

Those subconscious patterns appear on Corrupting Influence much as they do on the works of brutal primeval bludgeon bands like Nothing Left, Cianide, and Carbonized, like a hint of a memory that we know is important but is so shockingly relevant that our brain rejects and forgets it instantly, terrified of what we might realize if we admit it to our consciousness. In addition, some 70s style noodly guitar leads and occasional melodies of insight grace this release, making for a gentle release from the bludgeoning. Of note also are the Suffocation-inspired vocals, which inflect more detail and emotion than any other vocalist in this style.

I may never like it, but I can respect it, and I think Internal Bleeding is slowly upgrading slam from the utter stupidity of Pantera levels to something more like what underground metal once offered. My hope is that the genre mutates farther, possibly influenced by some of the older acts on its label Unique Leader Records, and gains a bit more of the outsider perspective that made underground metal truly great. In the meantime, Corrupting Influence provides a great counterpoint to all the idiotic metalcore out there, and gives us something to shove at people who are still listening to that stool, in the hopes that they might upgrade their listening and learn something in the process.

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21 thoughts on “Internal Bleeding – Corrupting Influence (2018)”

  1. bloodypulp, pushing what is falling says:

    You’ll always be prozak to me, but I’m biased because I’m an antagonistic mutt with an insatiable drive to destroy nearly everything

    (Insert nietzche line about people being inconvenienced when one changes)

    At least there are some constants, like Internal Bleeding having a great name and terrible album covers

    And that feeling when you get that first press, mint condition, old school classic metal CD in the mail

    Greetings from the streams of Inferno

    No I’m not part Irish thank goodness

    1. One must change, and I have realized how important “voice” is to a writer. One must have the right voice, and sometimes that means changing the persona. The person? Very much the same, perhaps more bitter, and also, more aware of how people need breadcrumbs instead of absolutes. It’s a long series of small steps from realizing that Pantera is nonsense to Irish repatriation, in other words.

      1. bloodypulp says:

        yeah i could not agree with you more. making the distinction between person and persona is important even if you’re not a writer or a musician. i read amerika for a while and without it my analysis of modernity would be infantile. but i gotta praise the classic early shit cuz that’s part of what keeps it alive. different projects, i get it.

        man i got into a drunk metal conversation at a party last night but this dude couldnt get past the fact that i thought between the buried and me sucks, and its his favorite band. i didnt make it to the nihilism part because the guy had never even heard of Legion and i realized i was talking about goreaphobia and molested to someone whos not ready. i have a habit of doing that.

        what do you do with people who admit they are triggered by you disliking their favorite band? serious question. i mean when i said there were no riffs in his favorite “metal” song he said he didnt care. what do you recommend to people like that to get them on the way? aside from slayer. ive been told that even slayer and deicide are too much for the initiate. the guy likes deeds of flesh so i figure the potential is there. its not the first time ive run into this situation and i just want to immediately recommend like cadaver and repulsion because that’s how i got into metal. coming at it from years of listening to hardcore. thats not the case for most people i guess.

    2. Slam is just really bad deathgrind says:

      This is the cutest post I`ve read around these parts of the woods.

      1. bloodypulp says:

        Yeah I’m a hopeless romantic, I don’t forget my niggerSS. It sucks but I’m only half Aryan so I cut myself some slack.

        1. Worship On the Altar Of... says:

          What`s the other half, if you don`t mind me asking?

          1. bloodypulp says:

            sure why not

            the other half is half mexican and half polish

            the rest is german, norwegian and english

            oh yeah and FUCK CHRISTMAS

  2. canadaspaceman says:

    I am late to the game, heard about Internal Bleeding about 10 years ago and finally listened around 1 or 2 years ago. Good band as far as slam death metal is concerned, a subgenre I do not seek.
    This new album sounds more like regular death metal, than the numerous slam bands I checked out on youtube, reverbnation, etc.
    I still think the (1991) The One Dollar (Demo) is their best release though.

    1. Good band as far as slam death metal is concerned, a subgenre I do not seek.

      Excellent summary. I think slam should probably be its own subgenre separate from death metal. It’s a variety of death/speed hybrid, in my view.

  3. gk says:

    Still the best metal reviewer on the web. Thoughtful, measured and your ability to pinpoint why something is bad rather than just a “this sucks” is very welcome. Thanks for this.

    1. bloodypulp says:

      agreed. sometimes i wish i could be so elegant but im not a critic, just a fucking artist. keep em coming brett

      1. Thank you both, for reading all of these long years, and for the praise. I try to merit your belief in me each time I pick up the pen (keyboard).

  4. Killer Mastyrbator says:

    Is Afterlife – Surreality (1992), a “Slam Death Metal” album?

  5. You are the first reviewer to pick up on the 70s vibe. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that, since I tried really hard to weave more of my primary influences into our music. There will be more on the next album. It’s a slow evolution you know. Don’t want to lose our core sound, which I love, but I do want to expand it a lot more. Gotta do things slow, and make sure it’s right though. Thanks man.

    1. You are most gracious. I would like to hear more of the interesting lead guitar and some of the moments like the more sculptured progressive rock structures. There’s a lot of room to grow, and from my listening, Internal Bleeding is hitting its stride. I’ll try to review the next one more closely to the date of its release (lol weep).

      1. Thanks. You know, for a working musician, it’s a tough line to walk. I never want to lose our core sound (the dreaded “slam”; which I may add we completely pioneered), but it can be so much more than just those dreaded “bro” riffs you dislike. Every album I keep adding more Sabbath/70’s stuff to our sound, hoping to pull fans along with us into new (for us at least) territories. So, little by little, I keep adding more bits of new stuff, and if you listen to our catalog as whole, I think you can see the slow, steady progression into those new territories. As I gain a deeper understanding of soling and expression, you’ll hear more of that as well. Anyway, I am smoking a really strong cigar and drinking really good bourbon, so I could ramble forever. I’ll stop here. Thanks for the insight.

        1. Texture music could be a powerful backdrop for melodic development. I have realized that for cigars, I can only handle Churchill-sized “medium to strong” or above cigars. Anything else feels like smoking a tampon with tobacco draped over it.

        2. Creed Braddock says:

          Hey Chris, just the other day I was working with a guy that’s into modern bouncy deathcore type of stuff, so I played him Driven to Conquer and he said if he had known about it in high school it would have changed his life. That’s pretty amusing but it’s also sad that modern metal fans don’t know where the sound of their favorite bands came from.

          1. You aint kidding. It’s sad as hell. Sometimes I shake my head in disbelief and some of the bands we inspired. Oh well. Thanks for showing it to him tho!

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