DRAIN – ‘Living Proof’

By Ash Bebbington

Hardcore is enjoying an unexpected but very real moment in the spotlight. What was once a genre confined to sweaty basements has catapulted back into the public consciousness in a massive way with both Turnstile and Code Orange even receiving Grammy nominations in recent years. Knocked Loose also recently played at Coachella 2023 as comfortably the heaviest band on the bill. As a result, the contemporary hardcore scene has more eyes on it these days than one might expect, and one band that’s become a bit of a scene darling during this time is Santa Cruz, CA’s DRAIN. Their debut full-length, ‘California Cursed’ in 2020 laid out the blueprint for the band’s crossover thrash sound to the delight of hardcore fans. So how does their follow-up record, ‘Living Proof’ stack up?

DRAIN have once again proved they are worthy of the hype. This is an absolute beast of a record, less than 30 minutes of hardcore punk sure to delight heavy music fans around the world. Like all the best hardcore music, this album has a foot-stomping, head-banging groove that is so full of energy, you can’t help but get swept up in it. There are chugging riffs and aggressive drums galore, and breakdowns brutal enough to send limbs flying. Lead singer Sammy Ciaramitaro’s harsh vocals are barked with real venom, while the gang vocals across the record make you want to bellow at the top of your lungs and swan dive off a speaker stack.

‘Run Your Luck’ begins proceedings in sensational fashion as a cacophony of screams, drums, and distorted guitars fly out of the speakers and pummel your eardrums. ‘Devil’s Itch’ is a pacy, short number that sees traditional hardcore licks mixed with metallic soloing. ‘Imposter’ is perhaps the album’s standout moment, a disgustingly heavy track that’ll have you pulling a stinkface as it batters you over the head.

‘Living Proof’ doesn’t do anything particularly new or innovative – at heart, it is a fairly straightforward metallic hardcore record – but it executes it so well that if you like this type of music, you’ll love it. However, DRAIN do throw a few curve balls to keep you on your toes. Halfway through, there is a hip-hop-style intermission, which is a surprising turn as everything preceding it is pure hardcore fury. Without warning, the song then switches back to hardcore, and issues one of the best mosh calls of the entire record; “Yo DRAIN / rip this shit up!”.

Towards the end of the ‘Living Proof’, DRAIN throw in another surprise with ‘Good, Good Things’ the album’s most melodic track. This extremely catchy song is a world apart from the ferocity of the rest of the record but is no less brilliant for it. A whole record of this style of music executed to this level of quality would’ve been equally brilliant.

If the current boom in the popularity of hardcore means that more bands like DRAIN get their due, that can only be a wonderful thing. ‘Living Proof’ is a superb record, uncompromisingly heavy and brutal and packed with moments that will get your heart pumping and feet stomping. If you’re a hardcore fan and you don’t know DRAIN, now is the time to fix that. With a batch of songs of this level of quality at their disposal, and a willingness to experiment with more melodic sounds, you won’t want to bet against DRAIN being the next hardcore band to blow up and start breaking into more mainstream spaces.

ASH BEBBINGTON,

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