Hailing from Hull and raised on Grunge, three-piece Bloodhound cite their influences from a dizzying array of sources: from Alice in Chains and Queens of the Stone Age, to Drenge and Royal Blood; with debut album Fragile Skeleton ambitiously appearing to cover all bases. With a sound encompassing monstrous riffs and mammoth choruses, the listener is taken on a fast-paced, energising 40 minute journey into the darker realms of alt Grunge rock, Metal with even, at times, touches of atmospheric Dream Pop.
Starting with the frenetic aural assault of Everyone is My Friend, Again and Praise, I am occasionally reminded of the frantic psychedelic guitar sound of Cheshire’s Deja Vega — also formed in 2015 and similarly having recently released their debut album. Deja Vega are a mesmerising live band and I have the impression that, for similar reasons, Bloodhound live must pack a powerful punch.
Short provides the first of the album’s collaboration tracks, featuring Ru Cowl from Faux Pas (who the band will shortly be touring with) and leads into the tempo change of dreamy Cold (featuring Fiona Lee).
Coming in at less than two minutes Try is a track of cinematic wide-screen intensity which I feel could have been expanded on and signals a potentially interesting direction for the band.
Clicking sharply into fourth single Am I OK? the band continues to explore the album’s topic of mental health, a reflection of the struggles underneath the surface and the way in which we hide it from the world: ‘for a while I’ve been acting like a mannequin, I was aware of the surface but I’m panicking, everybody’s telling me that I’ll be fine but in this dark light I can’t drop you a line’. The repetitious scream of the title raises to a crescendo as the guitars kick in and illustrates the band’s signature mix of musical and vocal fury, driven by seductive melodies and repetitive psychedelic riffs: I am reminded of Soundgarden and Dinosaur Jnr.
Worn Down opens with a sharply catchy bass hook before retreating back to the Grunge Metal style of previous tracks, losing me somewhat here after such a great opener but leaving me convinced that this is a sound to be heard live and turned up to 11.
Vowel-free FRSTRTD features fellow tour-mates Brooders, whose singer and guitarist, Adam Bairstow recorded and co-produced Fragile Skeleton and the fury of the instrumental and vocal sections lead us into an eight minute opus of distorted thrash guitar and twisted feedback amidst an experimental backdrop fade-out of pouring rain.
We are finally led out of this dark tangle of sound into final track If This Is The Way It Is, mirroring Cold in its tempo change; a far more mesmeric and melodic track than its predecessors, which echoes Grunge contemporary movement Shoegaze in its circling guitar sound and low-key vocals. Here are tones of Ride and Chapterhouse; a beautiful and surprising ending to this eclectic album, an all-encompassing sound swirling around Max Lilley’s final words ‘If this is the way it is, I hope someone can help me fix it’
Bloodhound release Fragile Skeleton on 31st January 2020 and are accompanying it with a short tour, culminating at Birmingham’s Castle and Falcon on February 28th.
Reviewer: Sally Hamilton
Album artwork and band image courtesy of PR.