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Repaid In Blood - Reflective Duality

Repaid In Blood
Reflective Duality
by Liam True at 01 February 2021, 7:25 PM

With a name like REPAID IN BLOOD, you would be forgiven for thinking this Californian four-piece were taking a rather po-faced and serious approach to their Death influenced Metalcore. It appears this is not necessarily the case – “We have always been a fun going band, writing about the things we love and care about – Metal, comics, movies, all-around geek stuff!” The “geek” influence is one they relate to such a degree that the band has opted to downplay the more traditional applied descriptors of Death Metal and Metalcore. Instead, the musicians brand the sound used on "Reflective Duality" (their second full-length album) as, Geek-core!

For those wondering what this might sound like, the band is keen to point out their music is still very much rooted in crushing riffs, searing solos, and ball-shattering breakdowns, but what they push to the fore includes a variety of pop culture references, movies, games and geekdom samples. Across their 15 year career, they boast of their “I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus” Christmas parody and their Lego stop motion, Clerks-inspired, Jaws parody video. They recall a full puppet band video for a parody of SALT 'N PEPA’s “Push It” and their madcap, on-tour, and behind the scenes blooper videos. Asked about influences, they will rattle off things like kid’s cereal, zombies, pop culture, comic books, Game Of Thrones, and… peeing on you!

If the above hadn’t done enough to set you up for a wild ride, then it could be worth considering the number of guest musicians and collaborators the band has pulled in to take part in the "Reflective Duality" party. The sessions were recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Eric Hill at The Blue Room Recording Studio – but in addition to the main performers, listeners can also enjoy guest vocals on Thots & Purveyors by Jon Howard (THREAT SIGNAL), guest guitars on Ritualistic Stoning by Travis Montgomery (THREAT SIGNAL) with more on Rebel Scum by Greg Burgess (ALLEGAEON).  The climactic track on the album, Molotov Circumcision features guest vocals by Michael Alvarez (FLUB, ex-ALTERBEAST) and even more guest guitars, this time courtesy of Cameron Losch (BORN OF OSIRIS).

"Wake Up, Time To Die" is the first track to really get our teeth into, following seamlessly, as it does, from the atmospherics of the accurately titled, "Intro". The song establishes itself as a measured, mid-tempo grind that showcases Darrell Durham’s formidable roar while the guitars pump out a staccato throb, briefly exploding into a flurry of melodic soloing, courtesy of Patrick Small. The effect is one of the music tightening its grip; steady and muscular from the start.

"Thots & Purveyors" uses a similar template, crushing on the sort of lurching, stabbing riff that will give you neck-ache. "He’s No Good To Me Dead" repeats the theme, slowing things down a touch and adding some frenetic guitar lines but ultimately holding the pattern of tough, lumbering metal. The performances are strong. All the musicians are playing well and showcasing great skill on their respective instruments, but by the time the foreboding intro of "Ritualistic Stoning" switches into another mid-paced chug-a-long peppered with melodic guitar flourishes, I find myself wondering when the geek is going to kick in.

There’s a niggling issue – For a band who drafted in so many guest musicians and boasted of unconventional influences and high levels of lunacy, "Reflective Duality" actually plays out as quite a one dimensional listen. It is a solid recording, and not without some crunchy appeal, but it doesn’t quite have the level of charisma or a standout track that makes it a particularly memorable listen.

"Rebel Scum," "He’s Not Here Man," and "Molotov Circumcision" all play out in in a similar way to the tracks before them, using familiar tempos and if I am being honest, it’s difficult to describe what each of the special guests is adding to the experience because it’s not immediately apparent. I can’t fault the musicianship on a technical level, but from a performance and production perspective, I feel everyone involved has stayed firmly inside their comfort zone. I don’t detect any risks or a desire to do things in a unique way.

I’d like to hear a version of REPAID IN BLOOD where they dialed more of the kid’s cereal, comic books, and Game Of Thrones into their performance. One where they tear it up a bit and cut loose… or maybe I got the wrong end of the stick from the start. This isn’t a bad release by any means. It only loses points because I don’t perceive it as having anything to set it apart from being just another competent, heavy album. I’ve no doubt existing fans will dig it. You might too.

Definitely ones to watch. There is a TON of potential here and I’ll keep them on my radar but this one fell short for me.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Wake Up, Time To Die
3. Thots & Purveyors (Feat. Jon Howard)
4. He’s No Good To Me Dead
5. Ritualistic Stoning (Feat. Travis Montgomery)
6. Rebel Scum (Feat. Greg Burgess)
7. He’s Not Here Man
8. Molotov Circumcision (Feat. Michael Alvarez & Cameron Losch)
Darrell Durham – Vocals
Jake Burrmann – Guitar and Bass
Patrick Small – Lead Guitar
Juan Galvez – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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