Florida hardcore group, Thick as Blood, is back with their third release, “Living Proof,” since their sophomore effort, “Embrace,” in 2009.

11 tracks of high octane material in under 30 minutes is impressive. First impressions of the overall work: the performance execution is done well, (they all know how to do what they do and sound tight doing it) and the combined lyrics and intense pounding would make any gym goer push that much harder past their last rep.

Thick as Blood continue to growl and holler out their “straight edge” stance, which at times gets to be like a downright motivational coach. (The title track declares, “You can’t break me down, I’m living proof!” making sure the listener can clearly hear/understand this, if nothing else in the song.) Simultaneously, many of the genre-expected elements are in the lineup. Subjects like: isolation, (“The Outsiders,”) loneliness and struggle (“Headaches,”) and pleading perseverance (“Madre Mia,”) are sure to appeal to the also usually expected demographic of adolescent, mosh loving males.

Thick as Blood brings down heavy beats that will have any live audience involuntarily head banging along. “Unruly” and “History of Violence” lend themselves best to this, with downbeat focused rhythms commandeering most of the instruments in both tracks. Still, this sense of continuous repetition could be considered a lingering weakness from “Embrace.” Speed metal-like traits (e.g. rapid double kicks) do make occasional appearances (“Madre Mia”) but when your head banging segments take up almost half of entire songs, and the same underlying guitar riff seems to creep up in multiple tracks at the beginning, middle and end of the record, there’s a bit of tonal dullness that starts settling in on one’s ears.

While vocalist Gino Vento certainly has excellent control of his growls and keeps consistency in his powerful delivery, consistency is a bit too abundant with him as well -also reminiscent of  “Embrace.” Final track, “Damned Nation,” does provide a bit of relief in this area, with the vocals coming across a bit sharper, perhaps narrower in quality, if you will. However, after 10 tracks of primarily the same vocal scope, the change comes a little late.

At the end of the day, for certain fans and situations, this record will fit perfectly in their playlists. It’s well put together unto itself but still has a bit of difficulty finding a genuinely unique platform to stand on when it comes to looking beyond the bigger and obvious picture of, “this is a hardcore band.” Throw in some finer details to ice the cake on the next record and Thick as Blood will be able to break through to a level all its own.

Living Proof drops July 10th from Rise Records.

Tracklist:

1. Pain & Gain

2. Full Measure

3. Madre Mia

4. The Outsiders

5. Living Proof

6. Diente Por Diente

7. Headaches

8. Unruly

9. No Rest For The Wicked

10. History Of Violence (Fearless)

11. Damned Nation

Standout tracks:

Madre Mia – Like the fast hook and initial use of double kicks.

Headaches – Creates good imagery to go with the theme, (I imagined a narrative style video as the song played) One guitar comes off siren-like, with repeated, almost bent tones.

Diente por Diente – Probably the best mosh-inducer on the record. (Gradually louder mic feedback under guitar, with drums added in a few seconds before vocals come crashing down at full volume)

Kira Grunenberg