Though they began playing music in a style akin to instrumental art rock, a move into violent power electronics in the mid 1980s set Controlled Bleeding on a course that would take them through industrial, ambient, free jazz, noise, dub, progressive rock, sacred music, dark ambient, classical and musique concrète. To their detriment, the group was not concerned with generating or maintaining an audience, relying instead on spontaneous inspiration - often the cause of alienation amongst many of their listeners.
The band's only constant member is Paul Lemos, although early band members included Jack Salerno, Dave Southerland, Gary Pecorino and Tony Meola, a stable line-up was not attained until the early 1980s, with the addition of Joe Papa and Chris Moriarty.
Moriarty departed circa 1994, however he and Lemos continued to work together on side-projects such as Joined At The Head, Skin Chamber and Fat Hacker, whilst Lemos and Papa pursued further sonic experiments with Controlled Bleeding, as well as releasing music under their own names. After the deaths of both Chris Moriarty and Joe Papa in the late 00's, original member Tony Meola re-joined the band on drums. The current guitar-and-drums version of Controlled Bleeding plays instrumental rock songs influenced by Krautrock (notably Can) and progressive rock.