Since their inception in 2020, Long Island's Pain of Truth have been turning heads with their fusion of the past, present and future of heavy hardcore. Channeling the hungry, take no prisoners spirit present in genre forbearer's Hatebreed and Madball seminal and much loved early and formative material, they've at the same time pushed their own path forward, with an at times almost over the top amount of heaviness and volatile energy. This bridge between the past and current era has helped them stand out on their own in a subgenre that's arguably never been more saturated it is currently.
While their initial debut EP and split with fellow heavy hardcore hitters Age of Apocalypse were both well received and solid releases, their first full length Not Through Blood shatters any expectations even the band's biggest fans might have had. There's a massive step up in songwriting, production and every other aspect of the band's sound here, taking the energy and hard hitting sincerity of their earlier material to a new level. Clocking in just shy of 27 minutes and wasting not a single one of them, Pain of Truth lay waste to everything and everyone around them with some of both the heaviest, catchiest and consistently engaging heavy hardcore you'll hear in 2023 or frankly any prior year. From the bass and drums that begin the vicious opening track that's aptly titled “Lifeless On The Ground” through to the closing title track, every minute of this record is brimming a clear passion and love for hardcore as a genre, movement and lifestyle. The guitarwork throughout this record is consistently crushing and outright nasty, while also injecting several melodic mini solos that constantly stick out regardless of their brevity. Coupled with this is a blistering rhythm section that adds a constant bounce and groove to every moment, and drum work that throws in curveballs like unexpected moments of double bass that only further amplifies the hard hitting power throughout this record. When topped off with the in your face vocal performance that always feels appropriately confrontational, it's clear that Pain of Truth aren't fucking around in the least. In fact, There are multiple moments on Not Through Blood that not only brought back memories of my first time hearing classic albums like Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire or Master Killer , but also brought about the same level of hunger and energy that kept myself and so many other listeners coming back to those records over and over again years after their release.
Much like their 2020 EP No Blame..Just Facts , Pain of Truth have enlisted a veritable who's who of hardcore's present and past for guest vocals on every song aside from the one instrumental track on Not Through Blood, and I've honestly got say I'm impressed at how well thought every single one of these guest spots seems to be. Vocalists from 200 Stab Wounds, Mindforce, Trapped Under Ice, Madball and Incendiary are but a few of the artists lending their voice across this record , and every song an artist features feels like both a nod to their influence and a true collaborative effort. For example, “You and Me”, the song featuring Freddy Cricien of Madball plays out like a modern take on a song off the aforementioned band's early material, drawing from the same street wise energy that made them a household name while bringing it firmly into the new era. Another standout feature comes from Justice Tripp of Trapped Under Ice in the midpoint song “Too Late” , where his vocals are accompanied by melodic guitar flourishes not unlike those that made TUI stand out from a sea of heavy hardcore bands in the last decade. Overall, it feels like the placement of each guest vocalist was well thought out with both respect and admiration for their own musical ventures, and while some might scoff at the idea of having so many guest spots, that feeling washes away quickly once it's evident that these appearances are very far from being thrown together for the sake of scene clout.
Bottom Line: Arguments could be made forever that there's nothing new under the sun and heavy, metallic hardcore is certainly no stranger to that debate, but with their debut LP Pain of Truth have delivered a record that clearly shows the subgenre has plenty left to offer in 2023, and one that could likely end up standing alongside the classic hardcore records it pulls influence from in the years to come. In an era where arguably more people are getting into hardcore music than ever before and a year of multiple standout releases, Not Through Blood easily takes it's place upon the top of the heap as one of the catchiest, exciting and engaging releases hardcore has seen in years.