When important music tackling the modern world’s ills is needed most, and when metal and hardcore are at a more exciting place than they have been in years, there’s hardly going to be a shortage of bands doing both. It’s also inevitable that those at the scene’s forefront will be the primary vehicles for new players to get involved, so it makes all too much sense that Manchester’s Leeched got their biggest push to date supporting Employed To Serve earlier this year. It’s certainly drummed up excitement for their debut full-length You Took The Sun When You Left as well, with their bleak, misanthropic combination of hardcore, powerviolence and grindcore breaking out of their local scene for the sort of national coverage that’s always a positive for a band like this.
Given the bands that Leeched will inevitably be compared to though, the likelihood of that was pretty high to start with, and it’s those reference points that will undoubtedly see You Took The Sun When You Left do pretty well in the underground. Factor in that this is a band with the dark, seething rage of Employed To Serve married with the slow, crushingly heavy grooves of Conjurer, and Leeched could have easily clocked up some decent mileage by this time next year. The problem, though, is the reliance on those comparisons, and how, despite their best efforts, Leeched can’t rise to the same level, and become indicative of a band for whom plenty of seasoning is still needed.
And with Conjurer being arguably the closest in purely sonic terms, it’s worth examining what they did on Mire and why it worked there as opposed to here. And it’s really quite simple to deduce – substance and variety working in tandem. For Leeched, it’s all well and good to double down on bone-crushing heaviness with no messing around (and on a track like A Mouth Full Of Dirt with its crushing, pitch-black atmosphere and sledgehammer riffs, they do reach something workable), but for pretty much the entirety of You Took The Sun When You Left, it’s almost like just different apporximations of the same riff dragged across this one album, rarely evolving or pulling out any surprises that could really come in handy. And particularly in the first three tracks which all clock in at under two minutes, it’s so fragmented that it’s hard to piece together much of a satisfying listen.
Of course, the chances are that those who’ll find the greatest appeal in Leeched will be able to look past all of this with no issue, and from there, You Took The Sun When You Left is definitely better as a primal, visceral experience. There’s barely a single note not heavy enough to form a significantly-sized crater upon impact, and vocalist Laurie’s guttural, animalistic roars clearly come from a place of intense, incandescent rage that feels so grounded and justified. For the sort of hardcore album that this is, Leeched are able to tick all the right boxes for success without it feeling calculated, and it’ll no doubt cause all manner of carnage live.
It’s unlikely to be the standout hardcore album of the year despite all this, but there’s really nothing drastically wrong with You Took The Sun When You Left as a full-on experience, and considering they’ve only been a band for just over a year, Leeched have plenty of time to refine their sound into something better. It may be worth waiting until next time before deciding if its really worth putting stock in them in the long term, but from what we’ve got here, this could turn into something good.
For fans of: Conjurer, Black Tongue, Ingested
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘You Took The Sun When You Left’ by Leeched is released on 24th August on Prosthetic Records.