Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When First Blood burst onto the scene in 2002 with their demo, they quickly became the talk of the hardcore world especially since they featured members of Sworn Vengeance, a late 90s favorite. Fast and heavy hardcore, pseudo-straight edge lyrics and heavy breakdowns. The band's demo became well circulated and kids were foaming at the mouth to see the band live. Then...members joined Terror and the band lay dormant with the occasional show including a killer performance at Hellfest. Eventually they recorded tracks for a split with Blacklisted on Deathwish Inc. before signing to Trustkill Records to release their full length, "Killafornia". Carl, vocals, quit Terror to focus on First Blood first time but Doug, guitar, stayed with Terror. The full length felt like they picked the best songs from the demo, re-recorded them and added some filler. Overall, I felt disappointed with it since the demo had been so good.
So now we fast forward four years and we have a new First Blood record on a new label (well techinically new), Bullet Tooth. Was I skeptical? Sure, I wasn't exactly happy with the last record but I chose to go into this new record without any expectations and I was thoroughly surprised because First Blood has written a good hardcore record. The band chose to go a different route and leave lots of the crap at home this time and write relatively short, fast hardcore songs (with the exception of 1 song) with plenty of sing-a-longs and breakdowns. While the band still has a strong Machine Head (Burn My Eyes-era) influence, the band brings in a good NYHC feel at times. Good use of double bass while not overdoing it. I have to emphasize the importance of writing relatively short songs on this record. In this genre, when a band writes 4 minute plus songs, jamming 16 breakdowns in each song it starts to get repetitive and I as a listener begins to lose interest. First Blood chooses to forgo this and write songs that are straight to the point without the filler. Plenty of sing-a-longs that are reminiscent to early Sick Of It All in that it sounds like there's a hundred people in the booth doing backups. Carl's voice has gotten much better since the last release. On the last record, it sounded like he was screaming from throat as opposed to his stomach but this time it sounds the opposite.
While I did enjoy the record, I do have a couple of gripes including the excessive use of samples. The band is emphasizing a political message with this record and during, before and after many of the songs they chose to include samples of news reports and political discussions. While this works on a few occasions, it feels like overkill at times. I do not have a lyrics sheet so its possible that all of the samples relate to the songs but I couldn't tell you for sure. The recording overall is very good but I feel like the guitar tone is a little thin. I know that the bass is supposed to make up for the low end but I feel like the guitars should bring in some as well. A good example is Martyr AD of how the guitars brought in a good amount of low end. Very small issues with an overall great record that I plan on picking up (yes, a CD copy) upon release date.
The bottom line is that First Blood went back to the drawing board and re-wrote their formula for hardcore. The band showed that they have staying power, shaking off the "sophomore slump" and releasing a great record.

The record will be available November 9, 2010 through Bullet Tooth Records. For now, you can preview a couple of new songs by click here: First Blood on Myspace
To pre-order the album on either CD or vinyl, click here: First Blood - Silence Is Betrayal
For a digitial release of the record, click here: First Blood - Silence Is Betrayal (Digital)