First Blood "Killafornia" CDPosted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2006 @ 12:17pm » permalink
I went completely apeshit the first time I encountered First Blood, the California metalcore act fronted by former Terror bassist Carl Schwartz (who actually recorded all of the guitar and bass parts for this album as well), and when their demo finally saw an official release on Division 36 a few years back I felt that it was one of hardest slabs of metallic hardcore that the west coast had to offer. It's taken far too long for the band to finally drop a full-length, but "Killafornia" is here at last (thanks to Trustkill Records), and despite a few minor shifts, it still delivers exactly the kind of brutal and over the top metalcore one would expect based on the demo.
Several of the demo tracks appear here in re-recorded form, but there's something about the feel of the full-length that changes things up a bit, and I can't quite place it. It doesn't hit me as hard as the demo did, and I don't know if that has something to do with the production or the surrounding new material. The recording is actually significantly stronger than that of the demo, but it almost has an overproduced churn to it since there are so many staccato rhythms and a plethora of midpaced chugging tends to run the show. I love the balance of pounding basslines just behind the guitars though, so there's a nice pulsing throb to the material that does pay off. But I do probably wish they'd speed things up a little more frequently, because more often than not as soon as the tempo picks up a bit and leans more towards a thrashy or traditional hardcore vibe the energy level tends to follow suit and grab your ear right away. I'm all for the massive breakdowns and crushing chugs, but somehow or another that midpaced focus gives this material a hint more of a metal sound, which is of course absolutely no problem whatsoever in my mind, but it does hinder the band's potential for absolutely insane ferocity to some degree.
But hey, these cats aren't trying to rewrite the book, you know? It's 11 tracks in 35 minutes: All pissed, all mosh. Let's face it, any band that names themselves after a Rambo flick (and yes, some good ol' John J. samples are still in tow) is going to crack a smile on me, and I'm into it.
I dig the layout on this thing, too. It's pretty basic, but something about the photography works, I don't know… it catches my eye for some reason. Good stuff. Pick it up and crack some heads or something: