Bloom – Past Tense EP (Review)

I never knew how much I had been craving some really good melodic hardcore until Bloom‘s debut EP Past Tense showed up in my inbox, full of its vocal ache and tight rhythms.

You may not have heard of Bloom before (I hadn’t). The Sydney band are relative newcomers to the scene, releasing their debut single “Cure Me” last year, and playing their first show earlier in the year in support of Stateside and Stuck Out. With the release of “Phantom Pain”, and the upcoming release of the EP on 31st August, the curiosity and interest around ‘that Bloom band’ is going to grow.

Bloom features Jono Hawkey on vocals, Jarod Mclaren and Oliver Butler on guitar, Andrew Martin on bass, and Jack Van Vliet on drums. Going in blind as I write this, all I know is that the quintet’s debut EP was inspired by loss and the different emotions that show up when dealing with it. Bloom recorded Past Tense with Fletcher Matthews who we most recently mentioned as producing Semester‘s Character Building EP, but is also behind releases for Dear Seattle, Perspectives, and Columbus.

Whatever experience you’ve had with a disintegrated love, first track “Home Felt Better With You” will hone in on that memory (whether ancient or fresh), prise it open, and dig into it.. agonisingly. Embodying ache and hurt, the track details an experience where a lover says “I don’t love you anymore”. Buried in instrumental overwhelm, our world is dashed along with Jono’s, and we sit in raw heartache and watch her go. Look, empaths, you’re probably going to cry. Searing guitar lines paint a fall-to-your-knees grief, as the vocals hit hard:

“Tell me what’s the point of words left unsaid
Tell me what’s the point of trying again”

With the ending of “Home Felt Better With You”, it’s a further heart-punch as the experience is presented sonically; vocals are left abandoned by instruments and seem to fall away, while questioning the point. It’s raw, it’s real, and it hurts so good. As someone who absorbs music through the lens of lyrics, emotions, and meaning, I am at home here, and am enjoying similarities with the kind of music that Hindsight shared in Disposable Paradise.

Second track “Who You’ve Become” is fitting for the aftermath of the abandonment that occurs in the previous song; where a dance between blast beat searing, and side to side stalking has us either resigned to suffering or frustratingly trying to break free of it. It’s another ache-laden journey vocally, where cries rip out into the oblivion, and morph from suffering through to anger. A punching last effort as the track ends is a stand-out, leaving distaste ringing in our ears.

“Take back what you said and everything that you’ve done.
You fucking hypocrite. I hate who you’ve become”

The tender echoes of “Past Tense” already have emotional stirrings for me. Maybe I just enjoy feelings in general, but I’m fully appreciating being a fly on the wall to this very vulnerable unfolding of emotion relating to losing someone. Not even twenty seconds in, and I’m struck by loneliness, and can’t help thinking that this is again the aftermath of the futile anger that couldn’t change the circumstances (that we heard in “Who You’ve Become”), satisfyingly building a progressive story for the listener, as well as showcasing the emotions involved.

In a sea of tumbling beats and gorgeous guitar, a voice is awash and calling for another to remember when they broke within them; like ‘Look what you did to me!’. Literally past tense and looking back at what happened, it’s another emotionally ripping track, where raw ache is spilled with abandon. And okay, yes, I cried again. But good god is this relatable, and good god does it hurt.

“When I needed your love, I was never enough”

Painted by a wailing guitar, which impeccably echoes the ache, along with heart-thumpingly steady drum beats, it’s all too easy for Bloom to rip this reviewer from her sensibly objective and profesh review mode to be swept into the experience. It’s listener beware, as this all very real creative expression of heartbreak is captivatingly beautiful in its ache. “Past Tense” speaks for those whose memories of something are just as raw as the original experience, and who have been left broken by someone that seemingly no longer cares to hear about them, let alone their brokenness.

 

With “Phantom Pain” now a progressive next step forward for the brokenhearted, it’s become crystal clear that this release indeed tells a story: My favourite kind of EP (Hello, Stuck Out‘s You Won’t Come Home!). Steady and more upbeat, this fourth track shares a palpable determination to overcome being broken and move forward.. at first, anyway, before slipping into a stuttering riff and sliding downward into ache again, expressed by a chance of pace and mood.

Here we are, alongside one who is trying hard to exist, trying to be more, but are haunted by the one who left them, even though time has passed and life has moved on. It’s so musically well done, on all fronts. The lyrical rhythms of “Phantom Pain” that express this back-and-forth stuckness are so hooking, almost guaranteeing that this beauty will take up residence in the listener’s head.

A ‘phantom pain’ exists where the hurt has found a home despite the loss now being so long ago. A desire to move on strikes fear, especially when the one that they leaned on for support through change is no longer in their life. This is also impressively shared visually in the music video, where a photo seems to represent (painful) memories of a lover, and the memories refuse to be destroyed, regardless of where they go or what they do. With poetic lyrics, heart-tearing instrumentation, this is melodic hardcore at its finest.

“You’re the thoughts inside my head
You’re the water I fail to tread
I’m a book remained unread
I’m a screw without a thread”

Raw and shredded to pieces now, having bore witness to a fragile heart being smashed on the floor and struggling to put itself back together, I’m seeing the EP’s final track title, “Closure”, and (cautiously) breathing a sigh of relief.

An ethereal introduction gives me a wave of goosebumps, with relative quiet aside from guitar. A looped sound gains volume and joins the guitar to craft a solid platform for a final statement from Bloom. And hey guess what, I’m crying again, as spoken word/screams outline everything that happened, everything that was felt, all the wrongs that happened, and why it all hurt so bad (“You were the only thing that made sense!”). It’s so very well done.

It’s a powerful close to an EP that carries emotional strength from beginning to end, and was captivating, hard-hitting, as well as beautiful. Past Tense as both a phrase and title fittingly captures an ongoing quest to put the experience/hurt/relationship behind him, even though this seems like an impossible mission.

This hearty serving of raw emotion is an attempt to understand and get through a blinding fog of hurt. As well as being emotionally potent, it’s musically impressive, with Bloom creatively guiding us through a progression of a rough experience, while simultaneously feeling raw enough that you aren’t thinking too much about the concept behind it. Putting this careful crafting to a metaphor: I was too busy crying over the tragic puppetry to remember that there were humans moving the strings.

Throw yourself into this and enjoy the emotive ride when it releases on 31st August.

 

Bloom - Past Tense
  • EP Rating
    10
The Good

Stunning and hard hitting. Creatively well done, while retaining an emotional strength throughout.

The Bad

You'll cry.

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Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it.

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