AlbumsDecember 10, 20222,410 views

Bloodclot Souls


1. Souls 2. Unhinged 3. War Castles 4. Save the Robots 5. Infectious 6. Relentless 7. How Low Can A Punk Get
2022 Upstate Records
Our score 5

12/10/2022

New York hardcore has produced its fair share of notorious characters, but few loom as large or contentious as John Joseph. As vocalist of the Cro-Mags for their groundbreaking 1986 debut album, The Age of Quarrel, Joseph contributed his part to a band that was changing the hardcore landscape and helping to usher in a new era for the genre. Though the years that followed have been rife with controversy, the material Joseph has released with his long-running, though sporadically-active band Bloodclot has been a higher point for the vocalist.

advertisement

While Bloodclot has no official continuous membership (the band dates back to the early eighties and has featured members of Bad Brains, Biohazard, Merauder and Queens of the Stone Age, amongst others, throughout its existence), both albums attributed to the group — 2008’s Burn Babylon Burn and 2017’s Up In Arms — were solid stabs at an updated take on traditional hardcore, benefitting as much from their veteran lineups as they did from not veering too far from an established formula.

On Souls, Joseph has assembled another impressive lineup, this time with all NY musicians in honor of the late guitarist Todd Youth who had played a key role in Up In Arms. With Tom Capone (ex-Quicksand, Beyond) on guitar, Craig Setari (Sick of it All) on bass and Darren Morgenthaler (Maximum Penalty, ex-Madball) on drums, the pedigree of musicianship is certainly of quality, and is a strength of this incarnation of Bloodclot. Unfortunately, it’s one of only a few.

advertisement

To be fair, the album suffers most of all from an overly slick, mechanical-sounding production. Nothing on it sounds real. All of the instruments are isolated and cold, quantized and snapped together on a grid, sucking all of the life and vigor out of what could be otherwise energetic songs. Capone’s impressive playing, particularly his solos, sound like a YouTube tutorial on ProTools punch-ins and overdubs. But the biggest victim here is Morgenthaler’s percussion, with an automated sounding snappy snare drum that reaches a certain level of annoyance after just a few minutes.

But plenty of albums have overcome questionable production value with great songs and performance. Souls comes up short here as well. As stated above, the musicianship is certainly of quality, but the songs are formulaic, derivative and sometimes just boring. At times Bloodclot call upon thrash-metal icons Slayer (“Souls” and “War Castles”), doing a solid, if not uninspired imitation. The same can be said of “Relentless,” which is part Bad Brains/part Motörhead. The nods to such classics wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t sound so deliberate and forced

“Unhinged” and “Save The Robots” play closer to the heavier hardcore sound Joseph and company developed on the previous releases and serve as the record’s high points. The low point comes on “Infectious,” a track that sounds like it would have been vying for modern rock radio airtime in the late nineties. With its slower, more mid-tempo beat, annoying refrain and four-and-a-half-minute runtime (by far the longest on Souls), the song is a slog for listeners.

Joseph himself does a serviceable job on the record with his vocals, even if it suffers the same production fate as the instruments. He mimics Tom Araya when called for and sings oddly like Jello Biafra from time to time, but mostly just shouts along on basic, predictable cadences. Lyrically he gets his points across (war is bad, mainstream media is bad, etc…), even if he sticks to elementary rhyme schemes like “Battle lines are drawn / Turn and face the new dawn” and “Believing lies / Destroy themselves / Skull and bones / Come off the shelves.”

advertisement

The album closes on a promising cover of Bad Brains’ classic “How Low Can a Punk Get?” which hits all the right notes, but fails to deliver the energy of the song. It’s actually the perfect summation of Souls — all of the elements are there for the band to produce something engaging, but they fail to put it all together.

Bottomline: Souls will have you reaching for your Slayer and Bad Brains records before you’ve reached its end. I’m sure this project was fun and rewarding for all those involved, but as a product for listeners to give their time, attention and even money to, it just misses the mark.


14 comments

Post Comment
anonymous 59 days ago

Dudes May Sue.

anonymous 59 days ago

John Joseph wears a wig. Weave gotta know

anonymous 59 days ago

Shit album and shit review.

anonymous 59 days ago

Your boss lurkcity really needs to give you some better albums to review.

anonymous 59 days ago

Jon Joseph is the 2nd biggest self important douchebag in the world, only losing out to the guy who wrote this.

anonymous 58 days ago

JJ will beat the shit out of both of you for talking shit.

anonymous 54 days ago

Harley wins!

anonymous 53 days ago

LAME ALBUM

anonymous 52 days ago

The reviewer is a lot like John Joseph where he thinks he's smart and cool but anytime he posts anything people just laugh at how much of a cringe try hard he is.

anonymous 50 days ago

John Joseph moves to Florida because he's never had a real job or can support himself with his various PMA cons says it's because NY is woke. Reframing failure by lying is conservative cuck 101. Remember dumb asses there are not two sides to a lie. This dude is the worst.

anonymous 48 days ago

^ nailed it

anonymous 33 days ago

Fukkk Baldspot and their wacky conspiracy theorist "leader" nicknamed after female tampon that rides Elon Musk's dikkk very hard and loves cops just like sissy Toby from H2ONO does.

anonymous 33 days ago

Be careful because John Joseph is from da streets. He also earned his degree from Da Skool of Hard Knocks. He will call this review "cancel culture". Then he will dare you to say all of this to his face and block you soon after.

anonymous 33 days ago

Sat thru the whole video - sounds like something someone made with garage band on an iPhone , and that's not a compliment . Did I mention how much I LOOOOOOVVVE the government and big pharma? Cuz I dooooooo!!!!! Thats my main gripe with this record , as a punk I'm just so deeply offended he would speak out so strongly against those things , or at least that's what JJ says my reasons for not liking this record are . Whatever . Transphobia .