Dropping their second album in just three years, Toronto’s Brand Of Sacrifice have successfully managed to avoid the sophomore slump. ‘Lifeblood’, the follow-up to their 2019 debut ‘God Hand’, is a dense and ostentatious forty minute head pummelling, a veritable smorgasbord of proudly over the top modern deathcore.
Since landing a slot on the 2019 Summer Slaughter Tour alongside heavyweights Cattle Decapitation, Carnifex, and Rivers Of Nihil, the hype surrounding Brand Of Sacrifice has grown and grown, a testament to the obvious talent that the band possess. ‘God Hand’ was solid, however, despite its wild lead single ‘Divinity’, there was little especially remarkable about its deathcore on steroids sonic palette. ‘Lifeblood’ kicks things up a notch, and then some.
To call this album ‘muscular’ would be an understatement. ‘Lifeblood’ bursts from its shirt like the hero of an 80s action film, its veins throbbing as its blood pumps full of some illicit substances. The instruments land with the force of a car accident, the vocals roar like a war cry across an alien landscape. The blasts of ‘Prophecy Of The Falcon’ are a thing of vicious beauty, as are the full-bodied squeals that litter ‘Animal’. Even the choirs of ‘Demon King’‘s chorus sound sharp and incisive, like archangels laying waste to a biblical battlefield.
Bolstering this intensely physical instrumentation are some truly outlandish production choices. The aforementioned choirs back numerous chorus sections, electronic glitches undercut the breakdowns of ‘Vengeance’ and ‘Demon King’, and there’s even a disarming sitar sounding guitar buried somewhere in the middle of ‘Prophecy Of The Falcon’. Whether these bold stylistic choices work or not lies in the ear of the beholder, yet it’s hard not to commend the band for having the gall to include them.
The best tracks on ‘Lifeblood’ marry this experimentation with coherent songwriting. ‘Vengeance’ is neck-snapping banger, finding the perfect balance of the choral inflections and squelches of electronica in service of a groovy, linear mini-anthem. Similarly accomplished is the title-track, a brilliantly demented combination of everything the ‘Lifeblood’ attempts. Its final stretch of chopped up and synth-backed chugs is the moment that Brand Of Sacrifice manage to most cohesively match up their myriad formal experimentations.
‘Lifeblood’ is not quite an unqualified success, its decadence and ridiculousness means it’s as crass and overblown as many in the new wave of deathcore bands. However, Brand Of Sacrifice‘s everything and the kitchen sink approach is gleefully entertaining, and in the moments where the different moving parts sync up and work together, it manages to become, just for a brief moment, something genuinely special.