Artist: Brand of Sacrifice
Few bands have had an explosive entry into heavy music the same way that Toronto’s Brand of Sacrifice have. With lyrical and visuo-conceptual themes centered around a cult-favorite Berzerk, technically savvy instrumentation and a penchant for heaviness that knows no bounds, once The Interstice released, things took off in a righteous way for the Canadian quintet, and haven’t slowed down a bit since. Where The Interstice was a brief and blistering juggernaut of rampaging heaviness, God Hand was a better display of the band’s ability to use storytelling and concept to their advantage—even if it came at a cost of the record feeling somewhat underwhelming in comparison to their EP’s incredible instrumentation. Now, the band stands on the precipice of releasing their sophomore full length release, Lifeblood—and in short, it stands as their most well-rounded an immersive release thus far. Taking the strongest elements from both of their previous releases and expanding them across forty-plus absolutely relentless minutes, Lifeblood sees Brand of Sacrifice creating a truly unique experience.
Almost immediately, Brand of Sacrifice branded their sound and style, combining technical and intricate instrumentation with slams and breakdowns that sound primitive in all the best ways. Lifeblood does this as well—just with ten times the intensity and fervor. Percussionist James Knoerl is a monster behind the kit; with “Mortal Vessel” and “Foe of the Inhuman” serving as outstanding evidence of this. Here, Knoerl’s technical skills take center stage, with fleet feet and lightning-quick hands setting the scene for bassist Dallas Bricker’s thick, groovy tones. Other songs—like the record’s titular track—see Knoerl’s chops matched only by his ability to transition seamlessly between segments of uncanny speed and bold, bodacious breakdowns. By now, you’ve definitely heard the song’s (and record’s) climatic breakdown—but how Knoerl works with Bricker to transition from blistering blast beats and blazing riffs into a breakdown that can best be described as cinematic deserves just as much praise. Then, of course, there are the contributions by guitarists Liam Beeson and Michael Leo Valeri. From the first few seconds of “Dawn,” these dudes absolutely rip—in layman’s terms. The duo are remarkably talented—from the melodic moments that define the chorus to “Foe of the Inhuman” to the dizzying fretwork that pops up just seconds afterwards in the self-same song, the duo are creative in the way they use hyperdissonant leads and low, gritty chugs to absolutely obliterate the listener. The two work brilliantly with Bricker and Knoerl to eviscerate their audience with precision met hand-in-hand with punishing brutality. Whether its “Demon King,” “Dawn” or “Lifeblood” itself, the band’s instrumentation is unstoppable without being overbearing or overly-dense.
Where Brand of Sacrifice have always had a strong vocal presence, the band’s unique, sprawling and—for lack of a better term—cool instrumentation always served as their focal point. Lifeblood is the release that sees frontman Kyle Anderson finally getting the spotlight he deserves. Anderson is a one man army with the arsenal of tones, styles and range he is capable of unleashing—especially when one considers how many he can transition through in a 20-second portion of a single song. The closing breakdown to “Foe of the Inhuman” might be the best example of this—as Anderson makes noises that, to the best of my knowledge, mankind aren’t really supposed to be able to make. The same can be said for “Prophecy of the Falcon,” or really any song on Lifeblood, save the interludes. In addition to Anderson’s native brilliance, Lifeblood sees Brand of Sacrifice bringing on a host of incredibly talented voices, each of whom lend a unique sound and style to their respective songs. Brand of Sacrifice’s choice of guest vocalists isn’t simply based off of who has the highest screams or gnarliest tunnel lows or whatever—chances are Anderson has those handled. Instead, the group chose guests who add something different to their songs, whether it’s Shelton’s signature roar on “Ruin,” or soaring harmonies on “Foe of the Inhuman” from I, Prevail’s Eric Vanlerberghe or “Vengeance” with Viscera’s Jamie Graham. Vocally, Lifeblood is as dynamic and intense as its instrumental elements; something that was really always true for Brand of Sacrifice, but now is readily appreciable.
“Revolutionary” and “gamechanging” are two of many big words tossed around about Brand of Sacrifice’s Lifeblood—and in reality, they aren’t wrong. Brand of Sacrifice take technical deathcore and infuse it with a cinematic flair and some contagiously catchy sections to make it open and accessible without compromising on crushing aggression and mind-melting intricacy. While the two interludes could probably have been abbreviated and consolidated into one, there really is no other fault on Lifeblood. Instead, this stands as a record poised to put deathcore’s more niche elements on the map, giving fresh life into a genre so many have written off.
For Fans Of: SPITE, Lorna Shore, Within Destruction, Infant Annihilator, Shadow of Intent
By: Connor Welsh