Canadian/American deathcore quintet, Brand of Sacrifice, turned heads (and snapped necks) with their debut album in 2019. With Banger TV’s Bradley Zorgdrager championing their music and Unique Leader Records behind them, they should sail past their peers, right?
There’s no doubt Lifeblood will be a pleasant surprise if you’re inclined to write it off as a formulaic deathcore workout stuck in a time warp from 2008. Brand of Sacrifice are as much brutal death metal in the vein of Deeds of Flesh and Ingested as they are a descendant of Carnifex and Despised Icon. Underneath the crushing breakdowns and chugs (of which there are many) are a plethora of eye-narrowing synth patterns, imperious choirs and haunting female vocal harmonies. Clearly, the band recognise the virtues of pushing the deathcore genre forward with no concern for the past.
Let’s get the obvious question out the way – is Lifeblood heavy? Answer: Enough to bludgeon your skull into your throat and crush your windpipe. The Job for a Cowboy pig squeals on ‘Demon King’ are as unsettling as the band’s strange decision to merge the extreme nu metal of later Suicide Silence with the blackened deathcore of Lorna Shore. It shouldn’t work, but the monstrous breakdown at 02:08 seconds will give you the staccato pounding of the year if your ears crave such an experience. ‘Animal’ is even better. Wow! Angelic female serenades make way for a full-on Morbid Angel assault and a pre-chorus of syncopated chugs and keyboard hooks. ‘Prophecy of the Falcon’ utilises Veil of Maya guitar noises with synth sequencing for an almighty roar of, “All rise! I am the chosen one!” It’s enough to send you into an epileptic frenzy of bodily contortions beyond your control.
Twelve songs of this intensity can be an endurance test rather than a metal fest, which is why the band’s understanding of how to structure an album deserves praise. The 01:27 seconds of female crooning and atmospheric keyboards on ‘Perfect World’ offer a cinematic interregnum from the chaos; ‘Corridor of Dreams’ serves up another interlude of spiritual reflection to reset the senses. Both these compositions enhance the impact of ‘Vengeance’ and the title track, with the former subsisting on a Meshuggah pattern of guitar gyrations and the latter capturing the same awesome intensity as the last Code Orange album. Who’d have thought you could include a dazzling Jean- Michel Jarre synth and a children’s choir at the end to round off such a metallic stampede?
Few reservations come to mind on Lifeblood, but a nagging doubt might persist that you’ve heard a lot of this posturing before. For all its awesome might, ‘Demon King’ is one long slab of stop-start chugging and ‘Mortal Vessel’ loses its potency after the fifth breakdown in four minutes. On ‘Ruin’ they fall into the trap of being heavy for the sake of heaviness, much like Slaughter to Prevail. The dubstep and nu metal elements hidden in the death metal madness of ‘Altered Eyes’ will also trouble you on repeat listening.
Nonetheless, the band’s vigorous determination to incorporate a wide variety of influences deserves admiration. Their enthusiasm for disruption and surprise is even more impressive. Brand of Sacrifice will go on to write better albums, but here is where we will trace the origins of their greatness if they continue on this path.
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Record Label: Unique Leader Records
Standout tracks: Animal, Vengeance, Lifeblood
Suggested Further Listening: Slaughter to Prevail – Misery Sermon (2017), Shadow of Intent – Melancholy (2019), Job for a Cowboy – Genesis (2007)