Two years ago, New Zealand progressive death metal purveyors Blindfolded and Led to the Woods earned wide-spread acclaim with their expansive show of musical extremity, Nightmare Withdrawals.
The breakout success of the well-received album galvanized the band entering their second decade as a unit and prompted them to again pick up their tools and get to work. Even while Nightmare Withdrawals continued to marinate with fans, old and new, the band refocused and began what would eventually become their most ambitious effort to date in Rejecting Obliteration.
A caustic meld of technically-sound death metal, the band's brutal delivery is underscored by a level of precision that can only come from a unit working in lock-step. The songs on Rejecting Obliteration are layered, complex, and multi-dimensional in a way that create soundscapes rather than songs - compositions that display a firm command of the craft and a true reverence for the sound.
Thematically, Rejecting Obliteration emphasizes a sense of resilience in the face of hardship and loss. Hailing from a city still reeling from a massive earthquake and one of the worst terrorist attacks on record, the fallout from the emotional damage is very real. Vocalist Stace Fifield and guitarist Stuart Henley-Minchington penned a ten track narrative that sources the bruises of that real-life trauma in a way that builds durability, rather than resentment.
For the most recent preview of the album in "Hallucinative Terror", the band delves into the despair of depression and asserts the importance of being proactive, rather than reactive when it comes to knowing the warning signs.
Guitarist Ben Atkinson sets the stage for the latest act from Rejecting Obliteration. "The video for 'Hallucinative Terror' is based at a funeral and shows a person who has passed away by suicide with their family and friends approaching the coffin to share their grief and ask why, pointing out that everything seemed ok.
These scenes are intercut with the person seemingly alive in their coffin. They are screaming and thrashing for help as the coffin fills with water but the funeral guests are blind to this and don't see this person's struggles, and calls for help. The person is haunted by an older man invisible to everyone else throughout the video who represents the darker thoughts of hopelessness we can have. The video ends with the person drowning.
The video represents that feeling of drowning in sorrow and hopelessness, that between breaths you are struggling to call out for help, to look for someone who may pull you up and no one truly hears you, or hears what you are going through. 'Hallucinative Terror' has taught us that we all need to be better listeners and observers and to proactively reach out."
Speaking to the subtext of the record, Atkinson elaborated on the social climate that ultimately influenced the direction of the new album. "Not a year goes by without losing someone we love to suicide. This was evident again throughout the writing, recording, and prep cycles for 'Rejecting Obliteration' where collectively as a group we lost more friends and sadly an old band member. The thought that we will never see their faces or hear their voices again still hurts us."
Through their craft, the band has taken the stance to work through the grimmest realities by addressing such a pervasive issue head on. Rather than glamorized the damage, Blindfolded and Led to the Woods detail the toll of trauma in way that compels the listener to confront their demons, rather than succumb to them.
Rejecting Obliteration, the Prosthetic Records debut from Blindfolded and Led to the Woods drops March 24th.
Order the album - HERE