Hailing from Christchurch, New Zealand, the progressive death metal band Blindfolded and Led to the Woods delivers a potent message through their latest album ‘Rejecting Obliteration,’ set to debut this Friday. The album navigates the tumultuous cycles of grief and trauma experienced both personally and collectively within their city, a place marked by natural disasters, domestic terror, and an escalating mental health crisis.
‘Rejecting Obliteration’ stands as a testament to the band’s resilience, encapsulating their defiance against adversity and capturing a triumphant reclamation of self amid challenging surroundings. The fierce sonic landscape weaves together elements of tech, progressive, and avant-garde death metal, painting a haunting portrait of their experiences. Following the acclaim garnered by their third album, ‘Nightmare Withdrawals’, the quintet embarked on crafting their fourth studio album and Prosthetic Records debut.
The creation process, spanning from November 2021 until February 2022, saw the band redefine their artistic approach, resulting in a darker and more insightful outlook in 2023. Through ‘Rejecting Obliteration,’ they address cycles of abuse and trauma, seeking resolution in resilience and endurance. The album’s thematic fabric, carefully woven by vocalists Stace Fifield and Stuart Henley-Minchington, explores finding identity and hope amidst personal anguish and psychological distress. Their shared narrative thread underscores the band’s inherent strength and resilience.
Each track presents a chapter in a story of human experiences and shared struggles. As a whole, the album is a testament to resilience and the power of enduring through hardships, echoing the band’s personal journey while addressing broader social issues. It celebrates the collective struggle for survival, the burden of trauma, and the determination to overcome. Ultimately, it reminds listeners of the potential for change and the importance of confronting and rejecting obliteration.
The band’s unique blend of avant-garde progressive metal, technical proficiency, and intense grinding, evident in tracks like ‘Hallucinative Terror’ and ‘The Waves,’ persists in this album, courtesy of the intuitive playing styles of Nick Smith, Henley-Minchington, and Ben Atkinson. Meanwhile, the album closer ‘Caustic Burns’ delivers dissonant chords and a commanding vocal performance by Fifield, adding depth and vulnerability to the typically harsh realm of technical death metal.
Upon completion, the album’s sound was refined by Samuel K Sproull’s mixing expertise in Melbourne, Australia, and further polished by Grammy Award winner Alan Douches’ mastering skills at West West Side Music. The accompanying cover art by Eliran Kantor encapsulates the album’s core theme of cyclical trauma. Despite the despair conveyed through its subject matter, ‘Rejecting Obliteration’ refutes the inevitability of continued suffering, embodying the band’s refusal to admit defeat. This resolution forms a vital component of Blindfolded and Led to the Woods‘ hard-won identity.
This vibrant testament of struggle and resilience has not gone unnoticed by listeners. ‘Rejecting Obliteration’ has already made waves in the music scene, achieving the #1 position in best-selling albums across all genres in New Zealand on Bandcamp. On a global scale, it proudly stands as the #13 best-selling Death Metal album worldwide on the same platform.
Opening the album with an epic longer track similar to how we started our previous album ‘Nightmare Withdrawals’. I think there are a lot of similarities between these two albums, I feel they are closely related. Monolith was originally titled “A Monolith to the Beauty of Humanity” however we found that quite wordy. Once I had written the music I felt the track to be particularly vibrant in parts, but supremely dark in others. The lyrics are a metaphor for what we are leaving behind once we pass. As this was written during the pandemic I couldn’t help but feel our legacy may be nothing more than a sickness. When the song is closing it turns around and asks if we are capable of changing that. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
The first single we released for the album and we felt this was a good choice as it’s one of the most relentless tracks on the album. It seems to cover multiple genres along the way, from death, to dissonant, to blackened metal, then the huge synth outro is a complete curveball. Lyrically, this track concerns religion and the power it holds over people much like a drug. The horrific things people will do while on this drug were only exposed further during the week of release as a huge number of sexual abuse cases came from the church at the same time. The video clip for this track by Amber Beaton is ferocious. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
One of the more progressive tracks on the album, it starts with a very ethereal intro where we ended up having our friend Andrew record some trombone parts over top. I find the riffs in this track particularly unhinged and twisted but the outro is a release of calming beauty that is almost hopeful. Where a lot of bands similar to us may put an extremely technical guitar solo I really wanted to create something that was a delicate choice of drawn out notes. Lyrically this is a song about suicide. Unfortunately, we have a huge issue with suicide in our country of New Zealand and it has impacted us all during the creation of this album. The video clip and mini documentary from Whisko Creative and Apple Box further express these feelings. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
The title track of the album. Opening on riffs and blasts that mix up tempo changes and remain on an aggressive vibe ‘til it hits some rolling sections and finishes on one of the biggest outro sections we have ever recorded. Mixing synths and layers to create a massive soundscape that drops into an almost tribal war drum like atmosphere. Lyrically this track is about falling into your deepest darkest moments but fighting through them and ultimately rejecting them. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
Interestingly this is the only song we have ever written and recorded in a drop tuning taking our guitars down to F. I was experimenting with the tuning when writing and it ended up becoming a full track. One of the most moody songs on the album I feel it perfectly matched Stace’s lyrical content which I won’t comment on as it’s quite a personal piece. I find the vocal performance on this track extremely powerful. The slow down at the end turned out massive. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
A collective favourite of the band, definitely one of the stand out tracks. Opening with intense dissonance and carrying on with a feeling of hopelessness and despair, it drops into an almost post-rock section that offers a false sense of security before exploding into a super layered finale with the vocals repeating a simple line of “soulless, helpless”. Lyrically, this track is about how we have to suffer to simply survive at times. Originally titled “The Cicada Screams from the Mouth of the Nird”, a commentary on how tackling our suffering and trauma is sometimes a losing battle. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
The shortest track on the album. After the intensity and expanse of Cicada I felt this track to be a perfect release of all that tension. The lyrics concern the fake smile we wear at funerals, somehow we push through the hurt to express a mask of happiness, if not for ourselves then for those sharing the same hurt. “My hell is now yours” is a metaphor for how we pass on that hurt. Again, talking about the cycles of trauma. Attending multiple funerals during the writing and recording of this album I found the behaviors of humans in public moments of grief a particularly powerful subject matter. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
Originally titled “Unforgiving Blisters”, lyrically this song is about overcoming those moments written about in the previous track, riding the waves. “For I’ve already lost more than I care to remember” speaks on letting some of those devastating memories go. Musically, this is a track that much like the title moves in waves.
– Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
Hands of Contrition
Another commanding vocal performance on this track. A lot of attitude in the riffs and drumming on this one with a pace that never lets up till a small dissonant clean section near the end that flourishes into a manic guitar solo before dropping back into a riff that demands headbanging. It took a few tries to name this track, we almost settled on “Broken Hands” before Ben came up with the title that stuck. Again this is a personal piece written by Stace and I won’t comment on the lyrics. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington
The finale of the album and much like Nightmare Withdrawals we tried to finish on an absolutely epic closer. The longest track on the album, coming in at seven minutes. A lot of twists and turns on this musically, providing tension and release on multiple occasions. I’m really glad we got to make a video for this track with Whisko Creative once again as it’s a track that we really want people to connect with. Lyrically, it’s quite a story but again that’s for Stace to comment on. Finishing with an outro that’s quite the juxtaposition, the song repeats a slow dissonant ethereal run with intense vocals repeating “I inhale you deeply, and hold my breath”, with the music eventually coming to a halt with the vocals continuing on to finish the album. While recording this final vocal session I think we all felt a collective agreement that this was the perfect way to complete the listening experience. – Guitarist, Stuart Henley-Minchington