California Cursed

BY Connor AtkinsonPublished Apr 10, 2020

A home-state set at last year's Sound and Fury Festival in California cemented Drain as one of the most chaotic and amusing new acts in hardcore. The good news continued to pour; signing to the legendary Revelation Records, branching out for successful road stints with Higher Power, Hands of God and additional festival appearances. The hardcore scene soon knew their debut LP, California Cursed, was sure to be ear-catching. The result: 10 songs that perfectly encapsulate the enlivened pandemonium of a Drain show and pull listeners away from bleak reality to Santa Cruz — a beach town of tourism, punk rock, gentrification and skateboarding.

The band's sound is both old and new — the tough street grit of New York hardcore paired with the tasteful gloss of '80s thrash metal. Intro "Feel the Pressure" sets this pace right away; it's like picking up a seashell, listening, and only hearing a guitar's dive bomb. Second single "Hyper Vigilance" follows with a strong guest vocal from producer Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues). It's a tempo-shifting rager, from pummelling thrash riffs to slow-paced mosh parts, and it showcases one of Young's best mixes to date. You hear the group's passion and anger, which glow in the California sunshine. Vocalist Sam Ciaramitaro says it best — "I'll show you how it feels" — on "Sick One," the record's victory lap lead single. It will sell listeners on its hard-edged grooves in less than a minute's time.

On "Army of One," Ciaramitaro and company confront the posers ("Do you walk the walk? / Talk is cheap") through crossover hardcore/metal that's equally fun and dangerous. Things get much heavier come "White Coat Syndrome," which manages to fit a wailing guitar solo over its trudging guitar riffs. Those addicted to the band's fervent thrash tempos will desire a bit more speed here, but for those about to pit, Drain salutes you. "The Process of Weeding Out" is the sum of California Cursed's parts, full of mosh-able riffs and circle pit circuit speed.

Drain write songs – like, real songs. The kind that have the power to transport your mind out of the dystopian nightmare we are all navigating, right into the Santa Cruz ocean waves or a mosh pit in Orange County. California Cursed is short and sweet, but not in a way that will satisfy some algorithm. The band knows just what to say and just how to say (or scream) it.

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