Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thick as Blood - Embrace Album Review

For a while I would say that about half of all of the music submissions I received at Decoy Music were for hardcore bands of some fashion or another. It got to be a bit monotonous listening to the same type of band over and over again so I became quite jaded quite quickly. As such, I was a little more harsh when reviewing hardcore bands at that time simply because I was sick of them. I listened to some tracks off of this album this last week and I stand by my statements that Thick As Blood mostly rip off other artists, but this album might not have been quite as awful as I made it out to be. This was originally published on April 8, 2009.

Hey pit monkeys, are you ready for your next favorite ground-pounding soundtrack? You better be, because it’s here. Thick as Blood’s sophomore effort, Embrace, takes the hardcore sound they used on Moment of Truth and whittles it down to the absolute basic necessities needed to get a pit swirling and kids spin-kicking themselves out of their camo cargo shorts.

The sad part about the above paragraph is that it really shouldn't be taken as a compliment. Embrace feels like a complete retread of ideas already used up by bands such as Bury Your Dead, Terror, and pre-Venom & Tears Throwdown. The pace throughout the entire album stays almost completely constant, only shifting into slower gears here and there to set up breakdowns or to get into an actual breakdown. If you had to classify Thick as Blood’s sound, you’d best describe it with the sub-genre classification of “breakdown-core”.

Every song, except the pointless intro track and the interlude “Horizons,” is between 2:22 and 2:51 in length, exclusively uses barked hardcore vocals, has at least 2 breakdowns, and eschews any attempt to mix up the beat-down formula they use. This might not be that big of a deal in some cases, but as was mentioned before, Embrace sounds like a complete rip-off of Bury Your Dead and Throwdown. Everything from the vocal styling to the songwriting screams out second generation clone.

If you’re willing to look the other way and pretend that Thick as Blood are somehow doing something new and interesting, there are a couple of great fist-pumping anthems that should help you toss up a few extra pounds in the weight room. The title track shows the band at their most cohesive and has an intensity that is somewhat palpable. “Open Water”, the shortest song on the album, is also one of the more interesting tracks because of a few moments where the guitars sound just a tad more menacing than anywhere else.

Eulogy Recordings is, if nothing else, a consist label that again shows they cater to a very specific audience. Embrace will provide hardcore enthusiasts with a new version of many old ideas, and will present them in a polished, well-produced format. Unfortunately, too many of us have been around in the hardcore scene for too long and have heard all of this before, many times over.

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