There is nothing more exciting than hearing a new band’s early Eps and singles. It’s exhilarating and makes everything else fade into the ether. This is exactly what happened when Brand of Sacrifice released their debut EP ‘The Interstice’. It was not only an impressive debut release, but it contained some of 2018s high-water marks. Now they’ve released their debut album ‘God Hand’ on Unique Leader.
Opening with the aptly titled ‘Being’, ‘God Hand’ doesn’t waste any time in letting us know that ‘The Interstice’ wasn’t a fluke. This is everything you want from an opening track. It’s a continued short sharp smack in the face. Any ideas of what Brand of Sacrifice is about get answered by its close. ‘Divinity’ follows this up. In fact the first half of the album is a none-stop with brutal riffs and guttural vocals trading blows. ‘Hill of Swords’ is the first take that takes its foot off the gas, as it’s a minute of synths and ethereal vocals. ‘Claw Marks’ and ‘God Hand’ are business as usual and end the album as it started. Heavy AF!
What ‘God Hand’ demonstrates is that Brand of Sacrifice is a band to watch. The music contained is hard, unrelenting, brutal and exciting, but they aren’t the polished article, not yet. On numerous occasions they hit ridiculous peaks which transcends the members of the band and truly slaps, the opening of ‘Begin’, the hypnotic synth on ‘Fortress’ and the Eastern influences on ‘Claw Marks’ being the first that spring to mind, but there are moments when self-indulgence and sacrificing the song for what they think people want rather than where it should go. ‘Hill of Swords’ is an interesting interlude, and does break up the levels of intensity and punishing riffs with a minute of synth stabs and haunting vocals, but it doesn’t really go anywhere and feels jarring when sandwiched between ‘The Branded’ and ‘Claw Marks’. ‘After Image’ is full of Vangelis-esque synths and delicate piano runs. And makes us question “Is this the same band?” Yes a palate cleanser is needed to get our heads around what we’ve just heard, but does the total change in sound, and pace, work? And these are the questions we have after the dust settles on ‘God Hand’. Were these tracks included to show that the band can write other kinds of music, or is this a hint as to there the band wants to go in the future? We’ll have to wait and see. Given that the band have only been around for a year, this is an impressive and rewarding listen, but maybe not the ‘classic debut’ they were hoping for.