Returning to the stages his band once dominated, Bloodlet guitarist Matt Easley feels the need to make it clear that the group's recent reappearance isn't all that it's being made out to be. "We decided to take a break," he says. "We didn't really break up." Although hailed in hardcore and metal circles as a long-awaited "reunion," Easley insists, "There was never a finite ending where we said we weren't going to do this anymore." Hence, Bloodlet's revenge is less a resurrection than a much-delayed continuation.
Blasting out of the Orlando hardcore scene nearly a decade ago, Bloodlet can be forgiven for wanting a hiatus. Toiling in the then nascent (and largely ignored) realm of experimental hardcore heaviness, the band logged thousands of miles playing club after club to a wildly receptive Ã if incredibly small Ã audience. Though they were consistently hailed by scenesters as a formidable presence, eventually the touring grind got the better of them. The end came when a European tour all but collapsed due to poor planning and a headliner pulling out at the last minute.
"We had a really bad experience after being on the road for four or five years and just needed to get away from it for a while," says Easley.
Drummer Charlie King headed off to Berlin (where he remains), while the other members stayed stateside to figure out their next move. Of course, they wound up in the woodshed again, this time with former drum tech John Stewart handling the skins. However, just because the members of Bloodlet were playing music didn't mean that Bloodlet had again become an active concern.
"We were trying to start another project," says Easley. "But it wasn't really as Bloodlet. Some of it was pretty different from Bloodlet in fact, a little more experimental. But rumors started, and the people at Victory (Bloodlet's label) heard we were playing again and they wanted a Bloodlet record."
Given the difference between 1998 and 2002, it's not surprising that Bloodlet was willing to give it another shot. When the band spread to the winds, heavy music was distinctly out of favor with the public. Unless the record was produced by Ross Robinson and cartoonishly self-hating, there was little acceptability to be found for a band that wanted to brutalize the public. The most recent explosion of mainstream punk hadn't yet happened, "extreme" metal like Slipknot and System of a Down wouldn't have stood a chance on a major label (much less MTV), and the only Orlando bands anyone wanted to hear were all possessed of a certain homo-pedophilic quality that defined the pop culture of the time.
Of course, for a band this mercilessly heavy and forward-looking, popular success was never really a factor. However, when acts like Poison the Well and Hatebreed can draw substantial crowds, perhaps the time was right for Bloodlet to hit the boards again. ("In the back of your mind, you really might think that," laughs Easley.) In December 2001, the band stormed the Gainesville Fest, kicking off a mini-tour that shook off the dust and reminded the crowds of Bloodlet's power. From there, Bloodlet headed to Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studios where, over nine days, the legendary engineer/producer helped them lay down the dozen tracks that would become "Three Humid Nights" in the Cypress Trees.
Though it has met with mixed reviews (the negative ones tend to grouse that the CD doesn't "sound like the old Bloodlet," but it has been four years; if they didn't sound different that would be bad), "Three Humid Nights" advances the cause of thinking-man's heavy hardcore by combining dense, ever-changing riffs with Scott Angelacos' thoughtful and abrasive lyrics. Never fully punk and never fully metal, but two steps ahead of both, it's the sound of pre-apocalypse poetry disguised as "evilcore."
With the album completed and in stores, Bloodlet did what Bloodlet does, and they hit the road, embarking on tour after grueling tour. Having been on the road pretty much non-stop since March, the band will soon be wrapping up a month and a half with GWAR, and then will hook up with Today Is the Day for another few weeks. Hopefully, this round of shows won't force the band into another four-year hiatus.
"It's been a lot of fun, but really tiring. Touring bands are the most traveled people except for truckers," Easley says. But he adds that it's unlikely Bloodlet will be hitting the same wall that "rested" them back in '98.
"We're a pretty stable band. Every day, you grow a little bit and learn something, or it's a total waste of time. We learned different things and saw what other lifestyles are like, and we decided we like this one better."