Review Summary: Putting talent on display while placing imagination on the back burner.
As with many microgenres built on a foundation of teen angst, deathcore has seen a slow and steady decline in popularity over the past 10 years. And by simply rereading the first sentence of this paragraph, it's not exactly difficult to see why this is the case. Keeping an audience hooked on your material for a very long period of time is not an easy task, and it becomes infinitely more difficult to do that when you there's not a lot of room for expansion or experimentation to begin with, or when you market your product to only one age group. And unfortunately, deathcore does both of these things. It painted itself into a corner from day one; "Hey, let's take these very specific compositional elements, limit ourselves to just two already well-established genres, and sell it to the youth!" The end result was something painfully foreseeable; a scene that exploded on impact, but fizzled out just a few years down the line, and ultimately succumbed to repetition and (more importantly) the reality that people grow the f**k up.
Music scenes, just like everything else in life, are trends. And life is a battle; you either adapt to the times, or you die out. I'll give credit where it's due, because deathcore bands have done their best to adapt, to appeal to a wider audience and get that demographic of teens and college students back in their pig squealing, blood splattered corner. But for the most part, it has been a complete and utter failure. Because if you can't change your composition, and if you can't toy around with your core sound too much without sounding like a different genre entirely, then all you can really do is refine and improve upon the sound of your instruments, up your production quality, and throw small dashes of outside influence into the mix in hopes that it will make you stand out.
Brand Of Sacrifice, suprisingly, does stand out. But on the contrary, "Lifeblood" does not. And if Brand Of Sacrifice wants to reinvigorate a music scene that's on its last legs, they're gonna have to do better than "Lifeblood."
Like many technical deathcore bands before them, Brand Of Sacrifice has raw talent in spades, but the execution is so predictable and stale that the average music listener isn't gonna make it through more than the first few tracks without surrendering to boredom. Frontman Kyle Anderson has some seriously powerful pipes, belting out ear piercing shrieks and gnarly gutteralls across the album's run time. The strings on this record are played very well, and with impeccable precision. The percussion pummels its way through each song, just as precisely as the guitars and bass, and it effectively compliments the thick, dense tones of the strings in a way that would make any deathcore fanboy drool all over their Chelsea Grin shirt.
But that's the problem. The only people that will drool over "Lifeblood" are the people still wearing Chelsea Grin shirts in 2021. Yes, Brand Of Sacrifice stands out... individually speaking. Each member of the band has incredibly high levels of skill, and you can tell that that's exactly what they're trying to show you on this album, with every vigorous growl, every intense riff, every speedy drum fill. It's just so unfortunate that a band composed of such talented beings would join forces to release such a milquetoast album. If you've listened to technical deathcore before, there is nothing on "Lifeblood" you haven't heard before, from the darkened electronic ambience and angelic choir samples to the breakdowns that gradually slow down every four measures or so, from cliched triumphant choruses to blast beats and two step verses. And despite each quality the members possess on their own, Brand Of Sacrifice plays their music so safely and by-the-numbers that those qualities are lost in a sea down-tuned chugs and vocal performances that are par for the course for almost any band of their caliber. All in all, "Lifeblood" is proof that pure expertise can only take you so far without the aid of idiosyncrasy. While Brand Of Sacrifice are undoubtedly masters of their craft, they simply refuse to think outside of the box or take risks, and their overall sound suffers as a result of this.
As the years go by, it becomes more and more apparent that deathcore as a whole is jinxed, trapped in an endless paradox of its own self. And if there's a way to break the cycle, "Lifeblood" certainly isn't offering any type of helping hand. Keep screaming into the void, deathcore. Here's to hoping that one day, you'll find your way out of this mess.