As Blood Runs Black
Ground Zero
(Standby Records)

If there’s ever a sure sign that the music within will be (at the very least) slightly lacking, look for a publicity stunt. Upon a Burning Body pulled the most deplorable of recent stunts by faking a home invasion and kidnapping, and that’s pretty much all anyone remembers about this year’s The World Is My Enemy Now; that says something. So when recently reformed group As Blood Runs Black decided to fake breaking up after successfully crowdfunding their upcoming third album, most were understandably skeptical about how well the resulting album would sound.

Interestingly enough, the sound may be the most problematic aspect of Ground Zero. The album’s production job is notably shabby, sounding thin and raw. You can go for an organic sound if you’re a hardcore band, but when part of your appeal is tasty guitar riffs that sound weak by cheap production, that’s a major issue that should have been addressed early on. Vocalist Chris (no last name given, apparently) has an admirable range, but, again, his vocals were poorly recorded. They sound garbled, like they were recorded while he was screaming in the shower. That’s cool for you to scream along while wasting precious water resources, but it’s not good to have poorly recorded vocals. It doesn’t help that Chris’ clean vocals sound like Philip Labonte (of All That Remains)… shudder.

The production really weighs down what should have been a fun release. The resemblance to All That Remains is shown throughout the album. As Blood Runs Black has mostly left behind deathcore for a fuller, more enjoyable melodic metalcore sound. Technicality is present here and there, but considering how laughable the guitar solo in “Wasteland” is, no one is going to confuse these guys with Revocation any time soon. Interestingly enough, all of the guitar “solos” on Ground Zero run the gamut between God-awful to uninspiring. It’s odd because the guitar riffs and melodies are fine enough, but the guitarists apparently can’t write solos to save their lives.

Believe it or not, I was looking forward to Ground Zero. The band’s debut, Allegiance was a blast, so I was hopeful they could regain that fun spirit. Songs like the title track and “Survival Rights” show the band is capable of rekindling that fun spirit, but something clearly went wrong between idea and execution. Consider this another release that was doomed from the ill-conceived publicity stunt. (Nicholas senior)

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