The Virginia-based, biting metallic hardcore group Bleach Everything come roaring out with their caustic debut full-length album So We Gnaw this July 12 via band vocalist Brent Eyestone’s label Dark Operative following about five years of development. The band draw a lot of the power this heavy album packs thanks to the real, personal stake that they have in both the musical and the thematic side of what they’re doing. At times — like with the bluntly titled track “Nazi Punch, Fuck Yes” — the band tackle the surge of far-right extremism that would like to see the diversity that their heavy music scene stands for eliminated.
Poignantly, the band’s own bassist Kelly Posadas knew Heather Heyer, the woman who was murdered while protesting against white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in late 2017, which “obviously took a toll and lit a bigger fire in him, and all of us otherwise trying to live harmoniously with our fellow humans,” Eyestone shares. He adds that although he no longer lives in Virginia, personally he was “dumbfounded every single time I’d go back to visit and see Confederate flags in so many yards like it was no big deal,” explaining that prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer was even using an apartment as a base that was right above an ice cream shop he used to frequent.
“The album was always going to be violent-sounding. I just didn’t anticipate real life scenarios inspiring actual violent thoughts and lyrical content,” he explains, adding: “If I had it my way, I’d love to 100% write all of my violent passages from a place of pure fiction. 2017/2018 was so divided and so toxic for American culture that it was inevitable that the real world and the raw emotions therein would find a way in.”
Taking On The Hate
Eyestone, Posadas, and the other members of Bleach Everything including guitarist Graham Scala and drummer Ryan Parrish have been involved in the heavy music community taking this vitriol on for years, participating even to this day in bands like City Of Caterpillar, Darkest Hour, Mammoth Grinder, Suppression, Iron Reagan, and more. This wide-ranging experience no doubt helped build the “organic energy” Parrish says underlies So We Gnaw. Scala adds that in light of all the members living in different cities now, they didn’t even super thoroughly rehearse their creations before recording for the new album, but that potentially precarious process has felt “liberating” and “lends itself to a spontaneity and an energy that a more thoroughly-rehearsed set of material might lack.” Despite the continued onslaught of hatred like that which took Heyer’s life, the band seem encouraged by general developments in their corner of the heavy music community. In short, we really are finding something meaningful to take us forward — and Bleach Everything are jumping right into that stream with So We Gnaw.
As Scala posits: “Because it’s more accessible than any other kind of art — you may not know someone with a favorite poem or a favorite painting but I’d imagine there aren’t many people without a favorite song — music has the power to reach large numbers of people and normalize vanguard concepts. From rock and roll’s influence on the Velvet Revolution to hip hop’s role in gang truces brokered by the Zulu Nation, there’s potential for real transformative power in music so long as it’s made by those who want to offer something other than pure escapism.”
Of course, there are still some issues within the heavy music community that Scala and the others have a stake in. Scala notes that just recently, prominent heavy musician Rob Miller from Amebix and Tau Cross was widely revealed to have been “inspired by” the writings of a Holocaust denier. Scala does not tamper the band’s ire for their own community members, even in the case of Miller, who he says he was a fan of previously.
He shares two things he says are important to keep in mind, explaining: “First, this sort of bullshit can come from anyone, no matter how surprising a source so especially in the age of instant information and rampant confirmation bias vigilance is of the utmost importance. Secondly, if we aren’t willing to hold responsible the people putting forth these ideas – no matter how respected they may have been, no matter how great their albums are – then whatever moral authority accrued by these scenes means very little. There will always be casual fans and people solely in it for the music rather than for any connection this music has to something larger. But if this music or music in general really will ever live up to its potential as a truly transformative force it will only do so when it’s willing to accept the often unpleasant task of rooting out the rot that can set in at its foundations.”
Building Ourselves Anew
Despite the continued issues, Scala and the rest of Bleach Everything note the continued practical manifestations of the power of the boundary shattering, intense heavy music community in which they operate. Eyestone asserts: “The modern underground heavy music community objectively draws far more diversity and participation than any generation prior. It warms my heart to go to almost any modern heavy show be it Power Trip or Krimewatch or Angel Du$t or Venom Prison or Ghostemane or any number of acts out there and quite literally see every gender, race, sex, creed, political outlook, and beyond all under one roof and all wanting to feel a part of what happens inside the building that night and what springs up outside of the building in the days, weeks, and years to come after having that experience. This generation is far more open-minded, welcoming, and far less judgmental than the scenes I came up in and around. It’s just who they are and it’s an absolute delight to see.”
More personally, Eyestone separately adds that he’s happy that through the mix, Bleach Everything have persisted in the first place, since as he notes: “At the core of everything is the love and support we all share for any given member of the band. Most bands break up, start other bands, break up those bands, start another wave of bands, and then break those bands up in the time that we’ve been together. While we didn’t intend for it, this band ended up giving us space to be creative and live adult lives simultaneously. It sounds simple, but how many adults do we all know that simply stopped playing music or making art because of their adult responsibilities? I’m grateful to be in the longest-running band of my life in the middle of my life. This record drives that point home for me.”
Although ultimately, So We Gnaw is a very personal undertaking for the members of Bleach Everything, Eyestone shares: “The only hope that I can say I truly have for this record or any record we make is that someone or a group of someones completely different from us in every way hear the music and are inspired to make something on their own that will, in turn, lead someone else to grab some friends and some gear and offer their own take on sound to the world.”
Photo via Glenn Cocoa
Listen to “Nazi Punch, Fuck Yes” below and pre-order the album through the band’s Bandcamp page.