Everyone loves a good comeback story. As Blood Runs Black has been lying dormant since 2006 when they released Allegiance. I remember the album being fairly popular at that time, due to the fact that deathcore wasn’t as oversaturated as it is now (in fact, I’m pretty sure people were still lumping it in with metalcore at that point in time), so simply mixing brutal death with a copious amount of breakdowns was enough to impress. After some major line-up changes and five years of downtime, the band is back in 2011 with Instinct, and it’s my opinion that what they brought to the table this time should keep them relevant in today’s music scene.
As Blood Runs Black is a five piece deathcore band from Los Angeles, California. I’m proud to announce that Instinct proves to be a much more mature offering than what they provided us in 2006. There are not nearly as many open-chord breakdowns (not to say the album is devoid of them), and the songwriting this time takes advantage of the band’s technical ability – this may or may not have something to do with the new members. At any rate, the end result is that this newest record is, in my opinion, a great step forward for the band – musically, it is far superior to Allegiance, yet the changes aren’t so drastic that they should alienate existing fans.
The guitars are the biggest improvement on this record, especially once you start getting to the end of the album. New guitarists Greg Kirkpatrick and Dan Sugarman seem to have a lot to offer. The last 3 tracks (“In Honor”, “Echoes Of An Era”, and the title track, “Instinct”) are by far the breadwinners of the record and they successfully demonstrate the evolution of sound that As Blood Runs Black as undergone. Ironically, the guitars are also the weakest link, songwriting-wise. While the riffage on Instinct seems to be composed with much more thought than what Allegiance had to offer, it still has more than just a few instances of simple and uninspired breakdowns, which detract from the overall experience for me.
The other newest member of this group is vocalist Sonik Garcia, and I would have to say that he’s an improvement as well. His high-end and mid-range screams are well enough, but his growls are the highlight here, seeing as he has a voice like thunder. Also, the lyrics appear to be drastically better on Instinct than Allgeiance, considering the old release featured such lines as “bring the motherfucking ruckus”. Thankfully, there’s none of that shit present here, as that was one of the reasons I never gave As Blood Runs Black much of a chance at their inception. The rhythm section of the record is comprised of Hector De Santiago on drums and Nick Stewart on Bass, and both were members of the line-up during Allegiance. The drums are decently technical, especially evident in the song “In Honor”, and the bass basically follows the guitar, which is a fair accomplishment at some moments.
In the end, Instinct is a big improvement over their 2006 debut, and I would say it was worth the wait. At the same time, it doesn’t offer anything fresh, and there are just enough moments of complacent songwriting to ensure that this isn’t an epic release. At any rate, fans of deathcore should have no problem eating this one up, and tech-death fans like me will most likely find themselves enjoying it at moments. Give it a spin and find out where you fall.
04. Angel City Gamble
08. King Of Thieves
09. In Honor
10. Echoes Of An Era