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Bloodlands, Nihilistic Dimension (Self-Released, 2014)

Boasting lineup ties to 53 Stabwounds, No One is Safe, Ratface, Väistä!, and Worth the Pain, Bloodlands formed in 2012 and self-released their debut, Nihilistic Dimension, towards the end of the summer in 2014. I lost track of the Finnish hardcore scene somewhere along the way, but it's material like this that reminds me why I fell in love with it in the first place.

With 13 tracks clocking in at just 23 minutes, I'm not sure if you'd deem Nihilistic Dimension an EP or a full-length, but that's of little concern. Expect a modern take on the straight up chugging mastery of '90s metallic hardcore, with some of that H8000 metalcore flavor that brings in death metal tremolo picking and note-based riffing. Beyond that, you'll find that their beatdown-styled mosh breaks also have tinges of "slam" death metal to 'em; while the quick, explosive lead bursts kind of follow in the Slayer tradition. All of this with a powerful vocal delivery of intense, burly shouts—reminiscent of so many excellent Finnish bands before them.

My personal favorites aren't available for streaming—"Manhunt" and "Homicidal Impulse" especially, as well as "One Against All"—but these compositions achieve the best balance between Bloodlands' influences, countering fast-paced energy with succinct, brutal breakdowns to damn near Hatebreed levels of perfection. There are a handful of instrumental intros/interludes, too, but even those are loaded with meaty rhythms and grinding tremolo-picked riffs—so don't expect any atmospheric clean passages or anything of that nature! "Enter the Void" also features some guest vocals from Ulti-Make, from Finnish death/thrash act Tukkanuotta.

The songwriting can get a little disjointed at times due to the jarring nature of the transitions between riffs/tempos, but the tracks are so concise that they tend to minimize such occasional setbacks. Hell, opener "The Figure of Annihilation" is only 25 seconds, and none of the songs pass the three-minute mark, so it ends up all boiling down to strong riffs and great production.

The killer guitar and bass tones possess just enough separation to work together; and the heavy, crisp distortion—along with the vocals—carries most of the weight, without overpowering the mix. The percussion doesn't go the overly clicky route either, so there's a nice snap to the snare and the drumming packs a punch with the double bass. A dense, forceful sound across the board. Damn nice.

What can I say? It's good shit. Another reminder that I need to try and find the time to catch up on what's been going on in Finland. They've got a split 7" with Cross to Bear coming soon, so I look forward to hearing more.

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