Album Review: Old Blood - Ruins

Old Blood 02
“...we let it feed our enemy when we lined the coast with our dead...”

It’s challenging enough to be in a band and get noticed. It’s even more difficult to get noticed as a band in a scene that has been so saturated, and so vastly exploited. While at one time the Post-Hardcore scene was refreshingly vital and exciting, the genre has since been mercilessly bludgeoned to death with an onslaught of mediocrity and unoriginality in the market. This is not a new phenomenon by any means, as any given musical niche that picks up an ardent fan base will inevitably lead to an invasion of sub-standard carbon-copied johnny-come-lately’s. The real sad thing with all of this, as well as with other marketable scenes, is that this is all at the behest of many truly great bands that get unfairly overlooked and lost in the shuffle. 

Halifax’s own Old Blood is at risk of being one of these bands. I must admit that my attention span for this type of sound has worn rather thin in recent years, but I was pleasantly surprised with how engaging this record is. As a big fan of Thrice, I was quick to identify many of their known auditory devices scattered throughout the band’s sound. The multi-layered guitars assault the sonic ether with an ordered phalanx of melodic and abrasive riffs that explore all corners of the chromatic scale. The intricately woven melodies and their counterparts complement the careful song arrangements that allow many of the tonal patterns to breathe, and with a genuine resonating clarity. Also, for a brand of music that is inherently volatile and aggressive, the band offers a generous array of delicate harmony and captivating hooks. Another factor which helps this recording stand out amongst a sea of peers, is guitarist/vocalist Trevor DeSouza’s sincere working class style of vocals that are a refreshing contrast from the typical whining style of singing we’ve all been accustomed to with this type of sound. 

“Gunrunner” offers an assertive backdrop of a staggered beats, with a series of  uneasy melodies delivered by a blitzkrieg of multi-tiered canorous guitar measures. Despite the chaotic atmosphere, the song arrangement is skillfully concise, and with a graciously immediate chorus. “Arrows” immediately launches into a calculated cacophony of competing alignments of high-registered guitar harmonies, and settles nicely into a fiercely catchy rhythmic attack. The album’s highlight is the 2 song suite, “The Ides”. The first part avails some of the record’s most melodious virtues, and the most clever musical hooks. The lyrics are executed with a vocal delivery that is purposeful and with an unyielding resolve. The segue into the latter annex is seamless, but the musical landscape quickly spirals further into a vortex of measured animosity and enmity.

I actually do very much like this album. It has reminded me about why I enjoy bands like Thrice and Sunny Day Real Estate, without any of the cliched trappings offered by many of the formulaic copycat bands that have flooded the genre. The production seems to lend a very warm and organic quality to the recording, which also helps keep the songs interesting and enjoyable. Too many bands seems to get hung up on the idea that the more layers of musical elements to the music, the more polished the production should be. A true DIY ethic seems to really bleed through on these songs, which all carry enough weight on their own to begin with anyway. The musicianship is extremely well executed, the arrangements are thoughtfully constructed, and the songwriting is highly accomplished with deep, thought provoking lyrics. Highly recommended. 

Mark Laffin
-01/12

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