As Blood Runs Black
04. Angel City Gamble
08. King of Thieves
09. In Honor
10. Echoes of an Era
You know, back in the day I really used to be into As Blood Runs Black. They were melodic, fast, and had good drumming and moderately interesting vocals and guitar playing. By no means were they the most amazingly mindblowing band out there, but they were pretty listenable. But that was in 2006 when Allegiance came out. Things have changed since then; deathcore has evolved, and people have gotten bored of the whole “melodic riff, followed by breakdown” thing by now. The question is, has As Blood Runs Black changed with the times? Not really. Is that a good thing? Up to you.
I have to give it to these guys, they write catchy riffs and their playing is tight, but their breakdowns get old so fast. The opener, “Triumph”, starts with a weird riff that is more fit for the end of the album, and then goes into a terrible breakdown. “Legacy” comes in, and yes, they still have the riff-writing skill they had in 2006. But I don’t mean it in a good way. I mean, they can still write good stuff like they used to, but it feels so dated and overused that it makes you wish they did stuff a little differently. Also, their new vocalist sounds pretty bad compared to their older one, he doesn’t have the presence and depth. At least they added guitar solos, which aren’t really impressive, but I guess you can give it to them for trying. And the production isn’t too bad. It doesn’t help the feeling of “wait, did I just accidentally listen to Allegiance? Oh, it’s the new record. Never really noticed”.
Fine, I’ll try to look at the positive sides. The riffs are actually pretty good, if you can ignore the 5:1 breakdown-to-riff ratio. Don’t get me wrong, these song probably will be a blast to listen to live, but the only headbanging I did while listening to this album was the banging of my face to my palm. If they cut the terrible breakdowns, you’d at least have a decent The Black Dahlia Murder tribute band here. Someone should just take all the songs, cut out the breakdowns, and release it as a different album. Then I’d actually listen to this.
“Resist” is actually quite good, and they have a anthemic section near the end, followed by a solo, but to get there you have to navigate through a maze of… you guessed it, mediocre breakdowns. “Angel City Gamble” starts of pretty good, and there are some interesting (by ABRB standards) riffs in there, but I wish that they at least tried to diversify their breakdown writing technique. Elitist does it well, and so does Born of Osiris on The New Reign, but these guys are just bad.
There’s really no point in doing a track-by-track of this album, I listened to them all, and they’re all quite good songs that are riddled with bad breakdowns. “King of Thieves” and “In Honor” (previously known as “Air Force One”) are some other good tracks, and the breakdowns get too much in the way in the latter. It feels like Allegiance had less breakdowns that this album, to be honest. And the production was better. And the writing was more inspired. Even the breakdown writing was more inspired, they were at different speeds and feels; it’s all the same breakdown over and over in this one. Just go listen to Allegiance, and if you really want a taste of this album, just listen to “In Honor,” because that’s the best you will get. It’s not a terrible album if you can ignore the breakdowns, but it’s definitely worse than Allegiance. Allegiance was so good. After 5 years, they could have done much better.