You may or may not consider it bad taste to call an album Ground Zero and release it within a week of One World Trade Center opening to the public. Still, one cannot deny that this Los Angeles-based deathcore metal band has a breakneck sound that’s worth checking out. Combining elements of metalcore (anguished high vocals) with speed metal (listen to those drums!), Ground Zero, the group’s third record, is actually quite enjoyable – once you get past the initial listen. Truth be told, I thought this album was one homogenous glob the first time I heard it, but, perhaps, I was just not in the right frame of mind to appreciate this. So what is the right frame of mind? Well, again, because there are two or three competing elements of metal trying to vie for your attention, you really have to be open to all of its subgenres. It may help if you’re already a fan of the band and know what you’re getting into. However, if not, Ground Zero is still quite enjoyable when you get used to the group’s oil and water trademark.
While As Blood Runs Black is not a band that appreciates the nuances of subtlety, if you keep an ear to the 200 miles an hour speed, suddenly everything congeals and makes sense. Really, this is an album about guitar and drum interplay, how they interact and react to each other, and how they sometimes turn against each other. And there’s a sense of tragedy with this record: initially funded by a crowdfunding site, and planned to be released independently in the wake of, according to the band, being “robbed” by their former label, the group signed with Standby Records, releasing this album through them. However, after a fall tour, As Blood Runs Black plans to dissolve. So Ground Zero is the final farewell. One hopes that because of the group’s relative success – their last record, 2011’s Instinct, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart – this LP is enough evidence that there is still gas in the tank, and the world will give them a second chance. Basically, Ground Zero is a kind of mindless metal album. Just turn your intellect off, go with the flow, and be rewarded with their crushing sound. Overcome your inhibitions, and this is quite pleasing stuff.