Review Summary: Ground Zero ends up being a more-than-fitting title, as any possible forward progress would be from the bottom-level cesspool that they currently reside in.
Like most avid music lovers out there, I tend to look back at my old listening habits with a mixture of nostalgia and disdain. As Blood Runs Black's debut Allegiance
, released in 2006, hit me at a time where metalcore and deathcore was all that I cared to blast in my car. The album boasted everything that I loved in an extreme metal release at that time: varied vocals, machine-gun drumwork, and a myriad of breakdowns. While I haven't completely deviated from my roots in terms of my love for metalcore, the style that As Blood Runs Black play has lost much of its luster for me. The inherent lack of songwriting that Allegiance
possessed became readily apparent during a cursory re-listen several months ago. It just didn't seem to possess the memorability of early Through the Eyes of the Dead
or With Dead Hands Rising
. So, almost a decade later, how does As Blood Runs Black fare" I'll be honest here; Ground Zero
bad, if only for the fact that the band have essentially put out an album that is a carbon copy of their past releases. Progression has been traded for pandering to the same fans that enjoyed their debut and even though the band has changed dramatically between now and then (13 ex-members seems excessive), the same tired formula is being offered up. Opener "City Limits" masquerades as a song but is essentially just one big breakdown with manic vocals desperately trying to offer up a catchy gang chant at the end. The unmemorable lead work in second track "Insomniac" is a perfect indicator of what to expect throughout the album, and it's that same pitfall that causes this to sink from simply average to not even worth the listener's time. The only change to the tired formula present is the inclusion of a fair amount of clean vocals. They are even naturally included in a few tracks, most notably "An Oath". While the singing is neither horrendous nor incredible, it does provide a service to Ground Zero
due to the fact that it provides a few catchy sections. The importance of that crutch is more and more evident as the album goes on, given the laughable lyrics and piss-poor gang-vocal section of "Eulogy". The nostalgic part of me is disappointed in this release. It's barely conceivable that a band that has had more than its share of label, member, and financial issues would struggle through to release an uninspired mess of an album. Ground Zero
ends up being a more-than-fitting title, as any possible forward progress would be from the bottom-level cesspool that they currently reside in.