Full of energy and purpose, Alabama-based Nothing ‘Til Blood are certainly not shy about their gritty, ‘spirit-based’ hardcore. Sure, they aren’t the first band to inject a spiritual message into heavy music, but Nothing ‘Til Blood make interesting enough hardcore to support their rock-hard message without coming across as too preachy or writing totally flat tunes in the process. When Lambs Become Lions is a solid first full-length for the group, showing a hint of promise among the moments of intrigue and interjection to keep this record from being completely lost in the sea of budding hardcore artists – religious, political or otherwise.
For a number of religiously open bands who rely on subtlety to deliver their message, a large amount of respect goes to Nothing ‘Til Blood for being all about the words vocalist Amadeus Pryor preaches through the aggression-filled tracks on When Lambs Become Lions. “Toe to Toe” hears Pryor call “My God is coming” as the sludgy melodies build into a crunching chorus that utilizes solid songwriting to keep things going. Structurally, the track flows nicely from section to section without sounding unnatural or sloppy – a strength of the band that helps back the often spotlight-seeking vocal attack of Pryor. “Entitled”, “Gabriel” and “Depths of the Sea” further show a strength in the band’s songwriting, regardless of slower tempos (“Gabriel”, “Depths of the Sea”) or the decision to pour on sizzling guitar melodies (“Entitled”). While not entirely flashy on the musicianship side, the tendency for spiced-up breakdowns (“Tragedies”) and catchy, yet gritty fretwork (“Stands True”) help make the musical end of When Lambs Become Lions a worthwhile listen.
But in the ying to a lyrical yang, the biggest downfall for Nothing ‘Til Blood lies within flat vocal delivery. While Pryor certainly shows passion in his words and the way they are written, his bark is one-dimensional through the bulk of this record – making much of his fire-filled words fall short of achieving what they probably could with some variance in his voice. Even most of the gang vocals littered throughout this record sound dead and forced – a shame when they could in fact be great accents to what this band is doing musically. With ender “Depths of the Sea” proving Pryor has more to his voice than he truly shows on the previous cuts, it makes the emotional ending of this record bittersweet knowing we could have heard something more on at least one facet of this record.
In all of the ups this record has, the downs pull this back from being a great first effort for a band still young and growing in Nothing ‘Til Blood. Even if your beliefs don’t align with those of the band, there is still something worth hearing on When Lambs Become Lions – making the message even more worthwhile for those willing to hear it.