Chicago dark wave, shoegaze and screamo tinged gloomy rockers BLEACHED CROSS (members of Frail Body, Crowning, and Pains) put their first full length out in late June and it’s high time we give it a proper nod. Atmospheric, yet immediate, playful and sharp, “Bleached Cross” is a brilliantly fun album that demonstrates the band’s versatility and offers very relatable storytelling for the listeners. We have teamed up with the band to give you a special track by track rundown below and reveal more details about this exciting project, which will surely please fans of Cold Cave, Soft Kill, Nothing, and Portrayal of Guilt.
All digital album proceeds will be donated to the Chicago Abortion Fund.
“This is a post-punk/dark-wave project…” – comments the band’s guitarist Alex. “… but one thing we are really interested in doing is infusing elements from heavier genres (ex: metal, screamo, etc.) into the music.”
“A lot of post-punk type bands deal with dark themes and imagery in their music so it made sense to us to try to push that even farther, and go darker and heavier to hopefully make something more intense than a straightforward post-punk band might sound like. We tried really hard to make sure things felt cohesive and there weren’t certain parts in songs that felt like “this is the post-punk part” and “this other part is the heavy part”, but instead wanted something that felt ominous and edgy overall, not just in the explicitly heavier parts..”
That was a big reason why the band wanted to record with Andy Nelson.
“We knew he had a lot of experience recording heavier bands and we wanted that treatment applied to the songs so that hopefully the final product would have a harsher, grosser, heavier vibe. (also, Andy is just awesome in general). It was definitely a learning experience finding ways to balance all of the different elements we wanted to incorporate, but I think we achieved the overall tone we were going for and are really happy with the final product.”
Catch the band live in August at the following stops with OJNE and FRAIL BODY, and scroll down for full track by track commentary:
8/11 MILWAUKEE- CACTUS CLUB
8/12 MINNEAPOLIS- MORTIMER’S
8/14 MADISON- MICKEY’S TAVERN* *frail body and bleached cross only
Track by track commentary, by Zak Maybaum
Thoughtseize – This song was one of the first two we wrote when this project started, lyrically I was still figuring out what I wanted to touch on and decided to look back at my last band that I also played in with our other guitar player Alex. I had an idea to revisit a song concept but from the perspective of where I was now vs when I wrote the other song. I think of this one as someone from the present reflecting on themselves from the past and coming to terms with what has happened in the time that has passed. This song is very much about letting go of/destroying things that used to haunt you or weigh you down.
The Last Embrace – Grief and mourning became a theme I wrote about as we started writing our album due to some loss I experienced in my personal life. This song goes hand in hand with “Suffer” as well as with “Soul Bleed” from our previous split release. These songs lyrically comprise a trilogy of experiencing and processing loss. This song ended up being the final one written out of those three lyrically, and is about the end result of the grieving process…when you are simply left with an empty space where someone used to be. Your mind making you see and hear things as if they were still in the same room as you because ultimately you are so desperately wanting to be with them again.
Flesh Prison – I’m not a religious person, but I haven’t ever really gotten to tackle that subject matter too in depth or with the amount of vitriol I would like, so this was my first attempt at that. The creepy atmosphere of the song seemed to lend itself perfectly to some of the more dark lyrical lines in here. If people are so hellbent on controlling/ruining everyone else’s lives in the name of their faith and what they think awaits them in the afterlife, why not speed it up and die sooner so you yourself can get to the paradise you think awaits, especially if many things people at this point consider normal are so awful to you that you try to deny basic human rights to anyone that doesn’t fit your predetermined mold of what is acceptable? Conversely, if your god is responsible for the creation of everyone, following your logic how do you feel about people like myself who stand in direct opposition to you and all of your views? Don’t you want to die? I wish you would.
Recurring Nightmare – We use interludes like this in between songs during our live set, but even before we played our first show, we knew we wanted to do that. I think it makes the shows (and to some degree the band itself) more like a full experience you take in vs just some songs with banter in between. We wanted to represent that a bit on the album so our guitar player Alex worked on two of these interludes, and this one seemed to transition really nicely from Flesh Prison to the next song, Mercy.
Mercy – In keeping with challenging myself to write about things I previously hadn’t really touched on, I wanted to tie some of our aesthetic into symbols for struggles with mental health. I have a real fascination with medieval religious illustrations, specifically the depictions of hell from various Books of Hours from that time period, and the hell mouth is something that appears over and over again. It seemed like a perfect representation of your own mind trying to destroy you, or at the very least keeping you from ever feeling completely at peace and relaxed…anyone who has ever felt at war with themselves and their own existence.
All Is Dust – This was one of our songs initially written when the project was just myself and Alex sending and recording demos back and forth over the internet…I wrote the lyrics for this one at the start of the pandemic. This one is about the beginning of the end of the world, with the arrogance of humankind on full display as we begin to reap what we have sown…the earth will continue to live on long after we are gone.
Field of Souls – A love song while still staying on the darker side of lyrical themes about devotion, death, and destruction, this is about finding the one who you connect with in this realm, and hoping to be reunited with them once you both cross over to the other side. A song about how true love hopefully doesn’t end when our bodies die and we are returned to dust.
Sorrow – Going back to what was mentioned up top, we wanted to bring some heavier elements into our sound, and utilizing aspects of harsh noise was something we definitely wanted to pepper in where we could. I think this interlude is a great example of that. As soon as Alex created this soundscape, I knew it would tie into “Suffer” perfectly. These two go hand in hand, with this track setting up the waiting portion of someone about to be tortured. Meant to be an encapsulation of the stage of mourning before the true pain sets in, when you are anticipating what is about to happen….the textural dragging chain sounds and ominous high pitched frequency are a nice touch of really making you feel like you are in some kind of dungeon just reflecting on what led you there, and what will happen once you are taken away.
Suffer – As I mentioned earlier, this song is about experiencing and processing loss. This song specifically is about the guilt in having to make an end of life decision for someone, and the torture you go through after the decision has been made and you have to live with it’s consequences. There is no escaping it. I realized in writing it that the price you have to pay for getting to experience unconditional love is the pain and emptiness that follows when that presence is gone, so I tried to touch on all of those things in this song. I drew heavy inspiration from Hellraiser and Silent Hill 2 when writing this one as both things seemed to touch on a lot of how I was feeling and what I was trying to capture thematically.
Dark Ritual – The thing I love about the music we are playing is I feel like we can indulge ever so slightly in the more theatrical side of music performance & general image/vibe for us as a band. I grew up listening to and loving bands like Alkaline Trio and AFI, and so I wanted to embrace those influences visually and lyrically with this project. This song is meant to just be more of a general spooky mission statement about the band itself for lack of a better explanation I guess? A message to the outside world that we have toiled on this in secret (through about half of 2020 and most of 2021) and are now ready to unleash it into the world. Also, two of us play magic the gathering and that played into the subject matter of this song both in name and lyrical imagery haha.