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Bloodclot | ‘Up In Arms’

Whoops. No sooner had I sat down to write this review, but I see this post from John Joseph on Facebook:

“There are a lot of artists out there who put their hearts and souls into their craft… these are the people who take risks who endeavor constantly and work their asses off trying to make sh*t happen.

Then you get these crumb-bum-sh*tty-attitude-f*cks who DO NOTHING but sit in their mommy’s basement and troll around the internet and social media looking to pop sh*t on those who are actually doing something. F*ck them!

Do your music, paint, write, act… whatever. Never listen to the scumbag critic fault-finding social media trolls…they’re just failures who won’t ever accomplish anything and look to spread their misery. And To ALL those who TRY I salute You… Props and PMA!”

Oh dear. Clearly, he’s never read any of Alexander Walker’s movie reviews.

Creative Itch

Ever since JJ announced the formation of Bloodclot, one thing kept bothering me: why not just put it out under the name Cro-Mags?

After all, he’s been using the name for live performances for years and at one point (around 2010) had said that a new record would be coming out bearing the name.

Now, if we take into account former Cro-Mags member Parris Mayhew’s claim that JJ had approached him a few years ago (roughly around the time this new “record” was coming out) about writing some songs for the band as (according to Parris) JJ stated that “those guys I play with don’t write music”, it clears the air a little bit.

So a picture begins to form: JJ and the hired hands tour as Cro-Mags in order to pay the bills, but JJ starts another band in order to scratch that creative itch.

Kinda makes sense, but still something didn’t sit right. Why not collaborate with others, and bring that to the band? Others have done it. But then we must add Webster Hall into the mix.

It’s been well documented, so here are the basics: on 6th July 2012, two members of the touring band calling themselves Cro-Mags were injured before going onstage to perform, while Harley Flanagan (a founding member) was injured himself, arrested and charged (later dropped).

Since Harley is the only person to have written and played on every Cro-Mags release, it’s reasonable to assume that he owns some copyrights regarding the name. So I can imagine that any likelihood of this coming out as a Cro-Mags album died that day.

Named after a band JJ fronted with legendary Bad Brains engineer Jerry Williams in 1982, does Bloodclot’s release stand up with past glories?

Read on and find out.

A Polite Process

The title track opens up the record, and proceeds to lower expectations by being far too long (around the four minute mark) and having a very digital sound to the guitar tone. Clean, processed and polite. The exact opposite of what you want from a hardcore album.

‘Fire’ is much more like it.

One minute thirty, in the mould of Bad Brains and Negative Approach. Comes and goes without overstaying it’s welcome. Is it a genuinely great song? No, as it’s too derivative of it’s influences and the digital sound still grates.

But it gives the listener a glimmer of hope that this isn’t going to be a completely wasted opportunity.

‘Maniac’ is too slow to really leave an impression, but is at least an attempt to try something a little more rock n roll. ‘Kill the Beast’ ups the speed again, and is much better for it. And the rest of the album zig zags between the two strands.

So ‘Up in Arms’ is a mixed bag.

When the songs are short and to the point, the energy on show makes up for the unimaginative songwriting and thin, digital guitar tone. When they’re dragged over the two minute mark, there is little to hold the listener’s interest, as there’s only so many times a slowed down segment will act as relief from going back into the main riff.

JJ gives it his all vocally, but he can’t disguise the empty, hollow sound at the heart of this LP. Compared to Harley Flanagan’s recent effort, this feels like a half baked demo.

It’s just as well this didn’t emerge under the name Cro-Mags, as this review would be a lot harsher.

And no, JJ, this isn’t me being a troll. It’s me being honest.

2 / 5 –Christopher Owens ::: 12/07/17

  1. Not that I have remotely any interest in this but just read an interview with that JJ lad in the latest Zero Tolerance. Talk about a meat head. Banging on about the same “heart and soul” shite, as if the daily struggle of trying to be a musician should exempt him from any critical analysis. Fucking grow a pair like. If these social media trolls are so insignificant, why keep harping on about them?

  2. Its not a cro-mags album because its NOT the cro-mags. This is actually the 2nd album under the bloodclot name. While I def liked the first album better Up in arms is still better than anything Harley has put out. BTW the song is called Manic not Maniac.

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