Published Jul 05, 2019Brand of Sacrifice have been a band for a little over a year. As of today (July 5), the release day of their new album, God Hand, they've never played in their hometown; they've been on exactly one tour and haven't done a ton of self-promotion. So how did the Toronto group score a spot on death metal's biggest travelling festival, Summer Slaughter?
"It was the day before the whole tour was announced," says vocalist Kyle Anderson in an interview with Exclaim!. "I was at home watching the final episodes of Game of Thrones, feeling kind of upset to be honest. Then I get a call from our booking agent. We'd been offered a spot on Summer Slaughter. He says, 'You need to get back to me in an hour. I'm at the airport now.' I didn't even ask the other guys. I just accepted it."
Remember," he reminds us, "we haven't even played Toronto yet."
This was the culmination of a story involving dreams, themes and occasionally memes. Having been a band for less then a year, Brand of Sacrifice got an extra shot of exposure from, of all things, a viral Facebook post.
"A dude from Australia put up a video of a Pentecostal church group flopping around to our song 'Eclipse,' all speaking in tongues. It got over five million views online. I swear, we got an instant 10,000 new fans from that one meme alone. It's, like, half of what made the band."
The other half is where things get interesting. Brand of Sacrifice's members had actually been playing together for the better part of a decade under the name the Afterimage. But the Afterimage played progressive metalcore, a genre that (according to Anderson) has taken a step back in popularity, at least since 2012.
"I think, overall, it was two things: one, it became oversaturated; two, people seem to have moved on from going to local shows. They go en masse to larger shows, like August Burns Red, but never the locals. I don't know if it's a lack of popular local bands, or a lack of interest or what…but it changed," he says.
"There was also a guy named Jordan Valeriote in Guelph when I was growing up. He recorded Counterparts, Structures, Silverstein; all bands that blew up back then. He had a part in those groups getting big, because he was one of the few who could record songs at the quality that you need…but it's a huge financial risk. We spent 50, $60,000 on (the Afterimage). It's sometimes just easier to make rough-sounding hardcore records or SoundCloud rap."
Eventually, the Afterimage became Brand of Sacrifice, and things eased up. The band became sillier, and the songs more interesting.
"I've really always wanted to make this kind of music," Anderson says.
With sitar sections, symphonics and an overwhelming fixation on the manga Berserk, Brand of Sacrifice stood out from the pack. This uniqueness stretched to God Hand, the group's first full-length LP, out July 5. Produced by guitarist Micheal Leo Valeri and blending the influences of Job for a Cowboy, Code Orange, Born of Osiris and Devourment, God Hand builds on the success of last year's The Intercise EP to create a must-hear slab of heaviness for all deathcore and slam fans in 2019. Armed with mind-crushing singles "Divinity" and "Fortress," it's not surprising that Brand of Sacrifice saw their profile rise considerably as the release of God Hand drew nearer. The songs got heavier and the shows grew downright wild. Soon, they caught the attention of Unique Leader Records and were out on the road supporting fellow Canucks Depths of Hatred. But the best was yet to come.
The Summer Slaughter touring festival hasn't been through Toronto in five years. It has continued, but always managed to miss Canada's largest city. Now, Brand of Sacrifice are bringing Summer Slaughter home, alongside their original influencers in Carnifex.
"It's so crazy," says Anderson, "We never thought we would play these songs for anyone. There's a huge deathcore resurgence happening now, especially if you factor in the slam stuff."
Brand of Sacrifice have an unlikely success story, but Anderson knows there are other paths to success.
"The key is all ages shows," he says, "You don't see a lot of them anymore. Like Sneaky Dee's was before Homesick. There needs to be more all ages shows and there needs to be more local bands. Then the members of the good bands will link up and create better bands. That's how it goes."
Brand of Sacrifice's God Hand is available now through Unique Leader Records.