On their debut for Epitaph, Drain ramp up the riffs, grooves and breakdowns with the imposing Living Proof

Release date: May 5, 2023 | Epitaph Records | BandcampInstagramFacebookTwitter

While their first album California Cursed was already on the legendary Revelation Records, it was undoubtedly a big move when they announced the move to Epitaph. With a less hardcore track record, they have an impressive history while still holding the record for having released the best-selling independent album of all time with The Offspring’s Smash in 1994 . Eyebrows were most certainly raised but it was just another step in what has been a meteoric rise for the band who came from nowhere to Revelation Records to a legendary spot on the main stage at Outbreak Fest before this latest move. Living Proof is a visceral successor to their debut that has increased the intensity in all levels while maintaining a feverish energy that has made them a crowd favourite worldwide.

With links to other Bay Area bands such as Gulch and Hands of God, an exciting style of music, and a strong visual aesthetic, there’s a huge amount to like about the band even before diving in to the music of Living Proof. When you do dive into “Run Your Luck”, there isn’t a repetitive minor 2nd teasing for a shark to attack à la Jaws, they’re immediately sinking their teeth in and thrashing at you. I can immediately imagine the stylish, side to side stomping of the crowd if they open with this one at shows. Before the song’s out there’s a crushing, slow breakdown and a bunch of riffs before being launched into the groovy single “FTS (KYS)”. With a signature thrash riff and powerful drums, it’s immediately recognisable as Drain. It just oozes style.

“Devils Itch” just has charisma right from the off, with an old-school funk bass and drum breakdown to start with a peach of a bass tone transitioned into a classic 2-step part, it’s a really fun track. The start of this album really gathers momentum like a surfer down a gnarly wave. Another single in “Evil Finds Light” similarly keeps up the pace with more face melting thrash riffs immediately plunging into breakdowns. While it does feel like the band are repeating themselves stylistically on some of these parts, it’s all done with such aplomb and character. Side A closer “Imposter” is possibly the most straight-forward punk attack so far with vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro proclaiming they ‘never gave a fuck about being cool’ while his band simultaneously carve out a reputation as one of the coolest on the scene.

I must admit, when I first heard “Intermission” I did have to have to look at what I was listening to as the sudden switch to a trap beat with a rap part (performed by Shakewell) caught me off guard, yet somehow even this ends up throwing you into a thrash riff with a mosh call of ‘rip this shit up’. While just an intermission, this was a welcome addition as it not only breaks up the album but it just adds in an extra bit of fun and humour which I’ve come to associate with the band that I was excited to get more of from Living Proof. Not that “Weight of the World” isn’t a lot of fun, that lead riff is the most memorable melody here and is one that has stuck with me beyond a lot of other parts of this album. This is one of the more varied songs on the album too with one of the rare solos we’re treated to by guitarist Cody Chavez, and still has a massive breakdown. It’s another part of the album that highlights another unbelievable piece of work by Taylor Young who recorded it, with mixing from Jon Markson and mastering from Mike Kalaijan to boot.

Last original single “Watch You Burn” was one that I have to admit left me a bit flat when I first heard it and left me a bit dubious as to the whole Epitaph endeavour. It feels right here though. That said, I’m still not entirely convinced by the clean cover of Descendents’ “Good Good Things”. Producer Young did suggest he tried to talk the band out of using this one for the album (in a now deleted tweet) and does stick out a little bit. Yet, it is a nice change to hear Sammy performing clean vocals and it’s a very solid rendition of a classic. Finally, closer and title track “Living Proof” is a perfect end for this whole album. My main comment is that hardcore needs more cowbell and I’m delighted to report Drain have given it some. Tied in with some ripping fills and a healthy dose of guitar thrashing and chugging, “Living Proof” brings the whole thing together. Sammy’s final bellow of ‘living proof’ as the band lowers and quietens out to end the track just eases out a ripper of an album in a very satisfying way.

What Drain have delivered with Living Proof is a slab of one of my favourite styles, with Mindforce’s New Lords (which was mixed by Taylor Young) last year and Pest Control’s Don’t Test the Pest earlier this one, this almost crossover thrash but all hardcore style with massive amounts of swagger makes me so happy. While they have intensified themselves with more breakdowns, heavier riffs and a very slightly slower pace, they haven’t lost any energy. They’re a band that sound like they’re having fun at all times and you just know that every single one of these songs will go off live (just don’t turn off the lights so Sammy can keep the show going).



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