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What Deathcore Should Sound Like - 70%

JackOfAllBlades, December 18th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Mediaskare Records

Allegiance was the first extreme metal album I ever heard. My knowledge of metal was limited to Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, so from the first chord of the album I was blown away. A lot of what's going on here is pretty generic, but to my virgin ears it was shocking and new. And years later, Allegiance still rips. It's not perfect, but it pulls its weight better than most of its kind.

This comes with a massive disclaimer, however: I'm not generally a deathcore fan. Carnifex has a couple records I can dig, but beyond that I'm not easily impressed. And that makes it relatively hard for me to be especially objective; to my ears, a great deathcore band is still just the best player on the worst team.

But As Blood Runs Black makes a pretty convincing case for themselves. The first few seconds of the uncreatively-titled "Intro" definitely sound a lot more "death" than "core", and the tremolo-guitar/blast-beat section that follows cements that feeling. Regrettably, the short track still includes a breakdown, but even this has more of a driving feel than the usual sludgy drop-C break strain.

It's a good thing that the introduction is solid, because the next couple of tracks are not. "In Dying Days" typifies the very worst traits of the genre, chock-full of misplaced breakdowns, pig squeals, and cringeworthy nu-metal lyrics ("bring the motherfucking ruckus" might sound appropriate in a gangsta rap song, but that's about it). The guitars are low, the drums are slow and the vocalist makes it clear that he'd rather be brutal than articulate. It's metal for kids in Osiris shoes and triple XL t-shirts.

After nearly eight minutes of abuse, however, the album starts to look up. The only thing more surprising than track four's title "Hester Prynne" is that, with lyrical references to impurity and branded emblems, the reference to the literary character actually makes sense. It's a refreshing change of pace from the mindless chugging of the preceding tracks, and it's the first time on the album that vocalist Chris Blair starts to say something original (despite some overdone tropes, verbalized here as "your flaws got the best of you").

The next two tracks are by far the best on the album. "Pouring Reign" is a gorgeous clean guitar and bass interlude that rises and falls dramatically and emotionally, and no matter how commonplace such tracks become among heavy bands I'll always love them. They're great excuses for shredders to try their hand at the other end of the six-string spectrum, and on albums like these they're the only place to hear the bassist play much more than an open C.

All the beauty and grace here is followed up by "The Brighter Side of Suffering", which (despite the decidedly scene-kid title) is perhaps the best deathcore song I've ever heard. The trebly intro riff is an immediate earworm, and the 6/8 feel keeps the midtempo song moving at a driving pace. Occasional blast beats under harmonized guitars hark back to Gothenburg giants like In Flames, and even some of the metalcore riffs feel crushing with Hector de Santiago's exceptional drumming behind them. The vocals veer into the annoying when Chris Blair returns to the pig squeals, but he tempers this with some gorgeous (albeit generic) high screams and growls. Lyrically, it may be the best song on the album. Finding the strength to pull yourself from perdition isn't exactly common death-metal fare, but Blair's phrasing keeps a comfortable distance from Tony Robbins. One particularly vivid line reads "If there's a fork in the road of your path / One side's needles, the other's glass / At least you're walking instead of dragging on what's paved". And if that isn't convincing enough, guitarist Ernie Flores smoothly sweeps and arpeggiates his way through a melodic solo later in the track.

The song's only major fault is an oft-repeated mistake throughout the album. Most of the tracks feature a breakdown or three, and very few of these seem particularly appropriate. But "The Brighter Side of Suffering" gets the worst of the worst - after what could have been a smooth and well-placed end to a strong track, the band slows down by at least 20bpm and delivers an asphyxiating, china-cymbal laden 'outro'. The tritone-heavy guitars might have sounded all right if not for their appearance in approximately ten billion other near-identical breakdowns, and you can't help but wonder why they needed to add the section to begin with.

This is approximately how the rest of the record goes - inventive death metal guitars give way to breakdowns, which give way to vocal sections, then more breakdowns for good measure. It's an old formula in the genre, and not one that's earned its ubiquity. Yet Allegiance still manages to impress more than the average deathcore album - and the reason why is evident from the cover art.

As Blood Runs Black might be a deathcore band, but they understand what makes death metal work. Their album cover looks like it could be a poster for a B-grade slasher film, and a lot of the music sounds like it was written with those visuals in mind. The lyrics might look a little more like your 10th grade journal than your favorite Morbid Angel liner notes, and the breakdowns are none too impressive. But when this band is playing metal, they're playing metal. The quicker-paced guitar lines wouldn't sound out of place on Slaughter of the Soul, the vocals are appropriately intense, and the drums could be inserted comfortably into the next Cannibal Corpse disc.

So even if deathcore isn't the most creative genre out there, As Blood Runs Black proves that there are some bands who know how to do it right. I hesitated to score this album a 70 - it seemed awfully high for an album that makes me shake my head as much as I bang it - but I think Allegiance really does deserve it. As far as I'm concerned, it's not just a good deathcore album - it's the standard that all deathcore bands should try and live up to.

Train Chugging - 45%

Grumpy Cat, February 1st, 2016

If there is one thing we know about deathcore, its that its chuggy. This more than anything else is the genre's one descriptive feature. So when you read in the title that this is chuggy keep in mind that I mean super chuggy and chock full of every deathcore cliche this side of Suicide Silence.

Its starts with a track simply titled 'Intro', and of course the first thing displayed here is a downtuned mid paced chug riff that carries on for perhaps 30 seconds before jumping into the first of many breakdowns. The breakdown fades into the next track which then fades into the track that follows it and so on and so forth. The band never really end a song, they just bridge together the outro and intro of the next track to create something of a loop. All the songs sound about the same with the same characteristic pseudo growls, double pedal drumming, chug riffs and breakdowns so it becomes, more so than usual, hard to tell really where one song ends and the next one begins. It goes on in a cycle pattern doing this until 'Pouring Rain' breaks the mold by adding a soft and melodic layer to the music for a brief stint of time before the cycle continues as if nothing had happened.

There are of course some differences between tracks, 'My Fears Have Become Phobias' utilizes some technical noodling about halfway through and some pretty clean gang shouts on its way out. Elements like these are occasionally strung through out some of the later tracks as well. The lack of variety soon catches up though, you get the feeling that you've already heard this riff before, or that a breakdown sounds exactly like the one 3 tracks ago. Really the album's highlight is 'My Fears Have Become Phobias', and even being the strongest song here its still not amazing, after this track is over it just seems like the same basic rough draft of a song that gets recycled a few times offering nothing of interest or bringing anything new to the table, it just keeps going and going until enough material has been recorded for it to be considered a full album.

So I wouldn't really recommend this album to anyone. I'm sure those who would enjoy it already have enjoyed it. I was hoping to see some mould breaking from this band as they came highly recommended but it seems to be just another mindless chugga chugga choo choo wagon. Pass.

Quite fun deathcore - 70%

BlackMetal213, July 24th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Mediaskare Records

As Blood Runs Black seems to be a band that made a fairly huge impact on the deathcore genre with their debut "Allegiance", but since then, they really haven't been discussed much. This band has a reputation for pretty much being a deathcore version of The Black Dahlia Murder and is often compared to said band. That's actually a fairly accurate description. In fact, if TBDM decided to implement breakdowns in their music, I'm pretty damn sure the final result would be an album that sounds exactly like this. Be that as it may, "Allegiance" is a very influential deathcore album and has paved the way for a lot of post-2006 bands.

Most of the guitar riffs on this album are quite melodic in nature. They also don't really differentiate themselves from one another and are played in very similar ways. Because of the melodic death metal guitar riffs that plague this album, comparisons to TBDM are obvious and make a lot of sense. We can also hear a possible influence of the classic Gothenburg bands because of this, most notably At the Gates. Even though these riffs are not that original, they are still played fairly well and are quite consistent. The breakdowns are an obvious ingredient in this album. They are heard within every song, save for the melodic, clean interlude "Pouring Reign". While these breakdowns are generic and somewhat boring, making for one of the album's flaws, there are some that resonate pretty well. For example, the breakdown towards the end of "My Fears Have Become Phobias". This is a very catchy, well-played breakdown. A lot of these breakdowns, however, tend to sound ill-placed and almost inconsistent. They break up the guitar riffs at inappropriate times which can get very distracting. "Hester Prynne" is a huge offender in this regard. These breakdowns are so monotonous and really some amazing riffs become totally overshadowed, and that's very unfortunate. There are a few guitar solos throughout the album, and they help to add a little variety to the playing.

The drums are standard for the genre. Loads of blast beats, double bass, and drum patterns that follow the breakdowns to a T. Obviously there is nothing new going on here in terms of the drumming, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in skill and precision. It's efficient, but really nothing more, and that's okay because it gets the job done. To this day, Leche is the only original member remaining in ABRB. This band seems to go through members like a baby goes through diapers. I'm not sure why this is, but he definitely is one of the highlights on the album.

So really, while this album suffers from poorly-placed breakdowns, somewhat unoriginal guitar riffs, and even the predictable drumming, it's still a notable deathcore album and has surely influenced the bands that would come later on. It's a fun, dumb little album that I still listen to on occasion. If you're curious to hear a deathcore TBDM or At the Gates worship band, go ahead and grab this.

Darn good debut a deathcore classic - 92%

Metalwontdie, July 14th, 2009

As Blood Runs Black is a deathcore band whose sounds a lot like The Black Dahlia Murder on their debut Allegiance. Allegiance is very similar in style to BDM except for the usage of metalcore breakdowns and a more melodic edge. Allegiance is far from original fortunately the album is so well played and entertaining that I can overlook its unoriginality. Like BDM As Blood Runs Black focuses more on the death metal side of deathcore than the black metal side.

Allegiance is mainly made up of fast-tempo finger tapped riffs, leads, very melodic solos, and breakdowns. Vocals are typical for deathcore featuring high pitch black metal rasps and low grunted death metal vocals. The songs themselves are short and to the point never breaking the five minute mark. Ever song fits well together except for the all acoustic instrumental Pouring Reign which is used as an interlude between the first and second half of the album. Blastbeats are used throughout and add to the speed of the album.

The band’s performance is excellent showcasing a talent for writing great catchy songs. The vocals as said above are the norm and fortunately clean or spoken word vocals are not present. The two guitarists invent some great leads, riffs, and solos using them effectively throughout. The drumming is superb blast beating away and using a lot of double kick bass that is extremely fast and fills when appropriate. An example of the fast double bass is on the second half of My Fears Have Become Phobias when the drummer unleashes one of the fastest double kick bass parts I have ever heard. The bass is completely inaudible throughout except on the breakdowns.

A few problems occur on Allegiance fortunately they are few and far between. The acoustic instrumental Pouring Reign is pretty useless and is the only song that does not fit on the album. Allegiance has way too many breakdowns which mostly just ramble on and on serving no purpose except for bashing your brains in. Some of the songs have similar intro riffs though it is rare. Finally the intro song could have been added to In Dying Days since it is so short.

Allegiance is an excellent place to start for anyone interested in deathcore and it will be very hard for As Blood Runs Black to top this album in the future. Best songs are In Dying Days, My Fears Have Become Phobias, Hester Prynne, The Brighter Side of Suffering, and Legends Never Die. I recommend Allegiance to any fan of deathcore and The Black Dahlia Murder.

-2 points Pouring Reign doesn’t fit on this album
-2 points similar intro riffs on a few songs
-2 points breakdowns are used badly and are too present
-2 points As Blood Runs Black needs to distance their style more from The Black Dahlia Murder

Solid - 75%

SepticFleshRot, May 20th, 2009

Once in awhile, an album is released that represents the epitome of what the genre should sound like, and this album almost hits that mark. AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK delivers a potent dragon kick of pure Deathcore might that blows many other bands under the Deathcore label out of the water. For those who believe the Deathcore “phase” has passed on, maybe this album will change your mind. Simply put, “Allegiance”, as AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK’s debut album, kicks an enormous amount of ass.

The album begins with a short and brutal intro that basically lets the listener in on what he’s going to hear in the rest of the album—lots of breakdowns, lots of double bass pedaling. “In Dying Days” features some very catchy riffs that definitely show some of the Melodic Death that’s mixed in, and “My Fears Have Become Phobias” contains some of the sickest double bass pedal work I’ve heard (go listen for yourself). More of these Melodic Death-influenced riffs are heard in “Hester Prynne” with a successful mix of screams, orts, and grunts.
Out of the blue comes a gentle instrumental song that at first confused me (I was expecting it to break suddenly into more brutal riffs), but I ended up enjoying it very much, and it definitely helped add some variety to counter-balance the album’s myriad of savage Melodeath riffs and breakdowns.
Then the album continues right where it left off, but an even faster tempo—blast beats drive the energy level to an even higher apex, and breakdowns smoothly transfer to breakdowns, allowing the flow of music to generally go uninterrupted.
The final song ties up everything AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK is about—brutal riffs, brutal vocals, and especially brutal drumming, and is a great end to an overall solid album.

Of course, not everything about this album is great. Its main problem is its genre. Deathcore is a synthesis of Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal, and Hardcore. This creates a very specific sound, and because of this, finding a Deathcore band with originality is very difficult. Unfortunately, this album doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it performs the Deathcore formula very well. Keep in mind that this is the band’s DEBUT. If they follow the route ALL SHALL PERISH or THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DEAD took, their next album should be even better—and hopefully more innovative.

Recommended songs: “My Fears Have Become Phobias”, “Hester Prynne”, “Legends Never Die”.

Decent for deathcore, mediocre for metal - 25%

enshinkarateman, November 4th, 2007

Despite not caring for "deathcore" in the least, I decided to give "Allegiance" a listen, in the hope that As Blood Runs Black" might be a shining gem in a sea of mediocre acts.

I was wrong.

Throughout the 37 minutes this CD runs, I was checking my watch, often finding myself asking “didn’t I hear this before?”, mostly during the breakdowns. It’s no secret that an album should never feel longer than it actually is, and this album seemed to go by very slowly.

Anyway, moving on to the musical content, we start off with an introduction track, appropriately titled “Intro”. In the intro, we are treated to fast, high notes, drum fills followed by fast snare and double-bass action, and then a breakdown. This is basically how the entire album goes. The only real difference between the intro and the rest of the album is the lack of vocalist, which is probably a good thing. In retrospect, I probably could have listened to just the Intro, and saved myself 36 minutes.

The first four tracks (Intro, In Dying Days, My Fears Have Become My Phobias, Hester Prynne) go by at a snail’s pace, then we are treated to a melodic interlude, titled “Pouring Reign”. It is a soft song whose purpose eludes me. It’s a fine instrumental, but disrupts the flow of the listener, and would have better been placed as an outro, or intro. Despite it being out of place, it is a good song, but it shouldn’t have been three minutes long.

The next five tracks are more of the same, but “The Beautiful Mistake” stands out for it’s lyrical content, which is basically saying “I got dumped”. Such lyrics come off as whiny, and whining should not be tolerated in anything with even a remote connection to death metal, as deathcore often is. This song is clearly the worst of the album, though I did get a good laugh out of the intro, which features vocalist Chris Blair screaming “I looked into the eyes of a broken heart pride that’s made of stone!” Fairly amusing.

“Beneath the Surface” is another standout for the wrong reasons. At 3:30, the song stops, and I was relieved that I was on the final track. What I thought was the next song started, with a breakdown, and I thought “Isn’t that something? They started off with a break this time! Still repetitive, but at least it’s a change of pace.” Then, I looked down at my player to see that I was still on track nine. I was a bit bummed, and sat through another minute of the breakdown, before moving on to the highlight of the album, “Legends Never Die”. While not being substantially different from the rest of the album, the song is the most enjoyable on "Allegiance".

One thing I should address is the prowess of the musicians. They’re all very skilled at what they do, and should be commended. The guitarist can play, as can the bassist, even if you can only hear him in “Pouring Reign”, and the end of “Strife (Chug Chug)”. The drums are fantastic. I’m not sure if they’re triggered, though. I’m not a drummer, so I don’t know. Unfortunately, technical skill does not equal songwriting ability, which would explain the mediocrity of most of the songs on the album. The vocalist is rather dull, and typical of the genre. He’ll scream, growl, and do that trademark deathcore pig-squeal that’s so popular these days. It’s irritating, but it fits the music.

One final note about the vocalist, he starts chants quite a lot, especially near the end of the album. While I don’t mind chanting, the chants on this album are unintentionally laughable, and sound out of place. Not that big of a problem, but it bears mentioning.

This is clearly intended for deathcore fans. “Allegiance” is chock-full of low pig grunts, hardcore screaming, and has more breakdowns than you can shake a stick at. I doubt it’ll make a fan out of non-deathcore listeners, but if deathcore is your music, I highly recommend it. If deathcore isn’t your cup of tea, I’d advise against buying it.

Standout tracks: Legends Never Die, Pouring Reign

NOTE: Upon further listens, I have decided that my original score of 45 was too high and have lowered it as such.

1 gallon "Core"+1 cup death= Allegiance - 65%

at_the_gates66, July 12th, 2007

It is the classic question with metalcore… haven’t I heard this before? The answer is a definite yes. I thought it was all in my mind until I popped in All Shall Perish’s “Hate.Malice.Revenge” and Through the Eyes of the Dead’s “Bloodlust” and realized ABRB is just taking any original bits on those albums and overdoing them on this album. Most of the breakdowns found on “Allegiance” are damn near identical to those on “Hate.Malice.Revenge”. All of the allegations that this album is a BDM clone are true. Once a person moves past the fact that this album is nothing but unoriginal cloning, it isn’t all too bad, but it is by no means amazing.

They keep their album fast which helps cover up the fact that most of their songs are very very similar to one another. Luckily the one song they wrote and changed 9 other times to fill up the album was made well. The riffs are decent and keep you headbanging while you’re driving, but none of the riffs are at all memorable. I find myself whistling tunes from All Shall Perish because “Allegiance” reminds me of their riffs so often. The drums are really fast, nothing too inventive, but it keeps the beat really well. It may just be me but I really can’t hear much of the bass so I can’t give them points for that.

Overall, if you like a band that blends (or copies) other bands in an attempt to make extreme music or if you absolutely adore Black Dahlia Murder buy this. But if want to hear something really original look somewhere else.

Not that original, but damn good anway! - 85%

Metal__Rocks, March 22nd, 2007

Pretty similar to the Black Dahlia Murder, but this is a surprisingly well done piece for such a new group. These guys blast you away with some amazing drumming, and the vocals are insane, much better than BDM in my opinion.

The intro leaves little doubt as to what the rest of the album is going to be, with a catchy riff and flat out drumming. The first couple of tracks follow in the same vein; particularly notable is "My Fears Have Become Phobias" which ends with an absolutely brutal low growl and totally berserk double bass. But then "Pouring Reign", a slow instrumental, is slapped randomly in the middle of the album. Not necessarily a bad thing though, you might need something to relax after the madness of the first section! It also shows what the band are capable of, as its a quantum leap in styles from the rest of the album.

After that the band return to their normal metal madness for another 5 tracks, all of them good, "Legends Never Die" particularly.

Overall, it was much better than I’d expect from a new band, and I’m really looking forward to their next release; I think they look really promising! The band has some great catchy riffs, blow-you-away blast beats, and awesomely brutal vocals. Look out for more quality death metal to come!

Pretty Good, But Tiring - 59%

moonlapse_vertigo99, January 29th, 2007

This album kicks off with an intro named simply 'Intro', which packs a mighty punch and leaves you looking forward to what you forsee as a great album, only to discover it's actually quite boring.

In Dying Days is an average generic song, followed by My Fears Have Become Phobias, which is probably the best song on the album, excluding the intro.

After another generic song later, you're getting bored, so the acoustic/clean song Pouring Reign is a welcome change. I'd have to put that up there with My Fears Have Become Phobias.

But after that oasis, the generic mediocre songs continue. All of the songs that you hear now sound the exact same, and it tires you out to the point that you're damn bored. But you're determined to finish the album, so you toil on, and 5 generic songs later it's over. Might put that over on the shelf there to collect dust for a while.

So, I've been using the word 'generic' alot ... and what do I mean by it? Well, let's do what As Blood Runs Black do all the time, and break it down.

The guitars are your standard Black Dahlia Murder ripoffs (keeping in mind they ripped off most of their stuff from another band too): natural minor scale riff, breakdown, natural minor scale riff. None of the riffs distinguish themselves from the others; however, in As Blood Runs Black's favour, despite the lack of creativity and unoriginality of the riffs, most of them are at least half-decent, and the breakdowns are pretty original (well, as original as a breakdown can possibly be, so that doesn't say too much).

The bass is good I guess, and it's solid, which is necessary to achieve the sound they're going for.

The drums are pretty alright, the drummer demonstrating his speed in My Fears Have Become Phobias with some scarily fast double bassing. Not overly creative drumming overall, but it fits the music well.

The vocals are another thing they rip off from The Black Dahlia Murder, alternating between a high growl/screech and a low growl. Fine I guess, but I must say I quite like the lyrics.

So there you have it, a solid yet boring album. Don't get it unless you really like The Black Dahlia Murder, or are a devoted Metalcore fan.

Another BDM clone... - 65%

Emperor_Of_Ice, August 21st, 2006

I don't know what it is, but I'm growing quite weary with the rapid influx of Black Dahlia Murder clones. Just the other day my friend was suggesting me a bunch of bands. I thought they all sounded decent but they also all sounded nearly identical to BDM. And I know that BDM didn't create this stuff either. I know they stole it too. I'm just getting pissed off at how all these damn kids now care about speed, screams, and speed more than they care about originality. HxC is tainting the youth...

Now I'm not gunna lie; I enjoyed this album. Had it all been truly original stuff, I might've been inclined to score it higher (as high as 87). All of the songs sound good. Good riffs. Good solos. Good breakdowns. Production wasn't very good. Drumming sounded a little sloppy in one of the songs. The vocals were similar as BDM, one high and one low, except neither one was as good as those of BDM. Towards the end of track 3, there's some über fast double bass work. Track 5, "Pouring Reign," was a very nice, slower instrumental track, smackdab in the middle of the album. That's probably the high point of the album.

But this band does one-up on BDM by adding numerous changes in riffs and speed throughout each song.

So if you're a fan of BDM, chances are you'll really enjoy this cd. Just know that it's nothing new.

[Score reduced to 65 following re-evaluation of rating system.]