"First Blood Running"

By Dark Starr

I like this album quite a bit. The type of metal presented here runs a pretty wide gamut, often within the same song. The only problem is that there is a bit of a monolithic nature overall. That’s less about variety in terms of the actual song structure and delivery and more about a lack of variety in terms of tempo and intensity. The thing is, pretty much everything here taken by itself works quite well. It could have just used a few slower pieces interspersed to break things up a bit. 
The opening piece (“Phoenix”) is just over a minute and a half long. It starts with some intricate acoustic guitar. Hints of metal pound in, threatening to take over at various points. There are definite comparisons to be made to Metallica on this. As it fires out into more hard rocking stuff it has a real epic progressive metal vibe to it. This instrumental is classy. 
The title track screams into being. It’s furious and rather raw metal. The vocals are more melodic than that, though. This is classic real steel in so many ways. There are some interesting shifts and changes on this thing. It all rocks for sure. Much more of a modern, angry metal, “Two Bullets” rocks right from the start. This leans towards more extreme metal, or even hardcore, in some ways. It’s a killer tune, though. It also earns a definite parental advisory on the lyrics. 
More of a modern metal stomper, “Sweet Revenge” is anthemic. It’s also catchy. It’s one of my favorite songs here. I should say that this kind of nu-metal isn’t really my thing. The fact that this song works so well for me really says a lot about the quality of the tune. 
Fierce and furious, “Hope and Misery” is angry and yet quite technical in a lot of ways. It’s like thrash with hardcore and some old school metal in the mix. This is a strong cut. The only problem is that the whole intensity level hasn’t really changed much since the first song. It’s all starting to sound the same by now. There is a weird symphonic kind of thing at the end. 
The technical metal pounds in to bring “Insidious” to life. The cut combines that with a mean thrashy kind of sound. Add in some vocals that are closer to nu-metal and you’ll be in the vicinity of this. There isn’t a huge change on “Not Myself.” It is a screamer. It has some moments that are particularly meaty. The formula is starting to wear a bit thin by now, though. 
Nu-metal with old school crunch, “Wasted” is another song that’s solid, but falls into the realm of “too much of the same” as it continues without enough variety. The screamer titled “Long Forgotten” is thrashy with a lot of extreme metal and hardcore in the mix. The formula is just far too overused by this point, though. The acoustic section brings some needed variety, but it’s a bit too little too late. 

There is a long bit of silence at the end of the last song. Then an acoustic guitar based ballad emerges. It’s a strong cut and that well-needed variety. More stuff like this placed strategically throughout the disc would have made for a much stronger album. This earns a major parental advisory for the lyrics, though. 

We also get an actual credited bonus track.” It is a thrashy, almost punk like, cover of the classic Steppenwolf song “Born to be Wild.” I love the fact that they changed it a lot. I’m not overly crazy about the results, but you have to applaud the effort. The extreme metal ending section is pretty cool.