Revolver teamed with Brand of Sacrifice on an exclusive "blue and white crystal mix" vinyl variant of their "Enemy" 7-inch, which sold out immediately. Head over to the store now to see our full selection of extremely limited vinyl offerings.
There are so many bands out there doing so many interesting things, it's hard to know where to turn. That's why we've created Uprising, a recurring feature offering a concise introduction to a band or artist that we think slays, covering their origins, process and vision. Our latest subject is Brand of Sacrifice, a rising Canadian crew inspired by Berserk manga whose technical, symphonic and utterly brutal deathcore is displayed on their latest full-length, Lifeblood, and new "Enemy" EP, the latter of which features a guest spot by Underoath's Spencer Chamberlain.
We recently caught up with singer Kyle Anderson to find out what makes Brand of Sacrifice tick, including how his childhood obsessions with anime, Linkin Park and System of a Down influenced his band's current musical mission to "destroy boundaries."
WHO IS BRAND OF SACRIFICE? PLEASE GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY ON HOW THE PROJECT CAME TOGETHER.
KYLE ANDERSON I have been writing music with [guitarist Michael] Leo Valeri for many years now, but at one point we both gave up the dream to work more typical jobs. Back in early 2018, I was struck by the inspiration to write a short EP about my favorite manga/anime, Kentaro Miura's Berserk, RIP. I always tell people it's the death metal of anime, and it really is. It's as heavy as it gets. We were inspired by slam, brutal death metal and deathcore at first, and "Eclipse" was the first song we wrote. That was on our EP The Interstice and happens to be to most played track of ours to this day.
IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE YOUR BAND'S MISSION STATEMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The original goal was to pay tribute to Berserk and to do so through brutal music. Now, it's about splitting the difference between that while expanding. Our goal with Lifeblood was to be the heaviest band metalcore kids listened to. As we start incorporating more influences from other genres on "Enemy," and possibly beyond — the goal will be to do so in a way that feels as crushing as possible, while increasingly adding more melody. Overall, the main goal is to think outside the box and destroy boundaries. That's why we made a 360-degree experience for fans to live inside our album art. That's why we made a short film. That's why we made a manga-styled comic.
BRAND OF SACRIFICE ARE NAMED AFTER THE BERSERK MANGA. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR HISTORY WITH THAT ARTFORM — AND WHY BERSERK WAS INSPIRING SOURCE MATERIAL TO EXPLORE IN BRAND OF SACRIFICE.
I grew up in a household that was heavily into comic books. I grew up watching the 90s iterations of Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, and many other Saturday morning cartoons. My uncle showed me anime at a young age, and I immediately was hooked. I started with Dragon Ball, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh!, then quickly moved to Fist of the North Star, Trigun, Akira, and many other classics. From there, I decided to look on my own and stumbled across the 90s version of Berserk and the rest is history. I remember watching the Eclipse scene, which is beyond apocalyptic both in the event and emotional fallout, right before starting my shift at Domino's Pizza. I don't know how I made pizza that day.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO HEAVY MUSIC?
My gateways to heavy music were Linkin Park and System of a Down, the latter of which was my first-ever concert. I got into even heavier stuff, through a friend named Brad Small. He introduced me to a lot of metalcore bands like As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, Still Remains, etcetera. From there I found out about As Blood Runs Black, All Shall Perish, Bring Me the Horizon, deathcore-era, and soon started to venture into music on the heavier end of the spectrum.
WHO WOULD YOU SAY ARE YOUR TOP THREE MUSICAL INFLUENCES WHEN IT COMES TO BRAND OF SACRIFICE?
We're inspired by soundtracks like Doom, Halo and Transformers: really larger-than-life soundtracks. We take influence from pop music and rap music too, most notably with vocal patterns and structures. The reaction videos for our song "Demon King" were great because everyone expected the song to end with the big breakdown, as is standard in our genre, but we brought it back around to the chorus. It's funny that the typical often becomes atypical in underground genres. We like to invert that where it fits and play with and around tropes.
BRAND OF SACRIFICE HAIL FROM TORONTO. HOW DOES YOUR BAND FIT INTO — OR STAND APART FROM — THE REGION'S HEAVY MUSIC SCENE?
The local Toronto metal music scene has seen better days. There aren't a ton of local bands that are around and kicking like you may have seen four or five years ago. The first show we ever played was actually in New Jersey, on our very first tour in May of 2019. We somehow managed to sort of skip the local band level. That being said, Toronto and southern Ontario as a whole does have some awesome bands here like Falsifier — whose vocalist does guest vocals on our song "Divinity" — Astaroth Incarnate, Sarin, Tomb Mold, Bleeding Out, Six of Swords, and way more! Structures also returned recently with an insane EP, and Counterparts are consistent standouts.
BEING IN A BAND, WHAT'S THE HARDEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE COME ACROSS SO FAR, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
I'd say the biggest challenge you'll find is putting the right team together. I am very satisfied with our current team that has been put together since the Lifeblood cycle.
THIS PAST YEAR AND A HALF OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN COLLECTIVELY, AND INDIVIDUALLY, CHALLENGING. WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE FOR YOU — AND DID YOU DEVELOP ANY NEW CREATIVE ROUTINES OR HOBBIES TO HELP YOU COPE WITH LOCKDOWNS AND RESTRICTIONS AND LACK OF LIVE MUSIC?
While I do live and breathe live music, I did take some time to focus on writing our record Lifeblood, and putting time into the marketing campaign, all of which definitely came out better due to the attention-to-detail we afforded it. We also built our tie-dye-focused clothing brand Shibori Threads. I am more than ready to get back to the road now though! We have a few routing shows to-and-from Blue Ridge Rock Fest, as well as runs in support of Dying Fetus in North America and Erra in Europe.
YOU MENTIONED YOUR LOVE OF ANIME. I'M CURIOUS, DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PASSIONS OUTSIDE OF THE BAND?
I am big into graphic design. As mentioned before, I have my own clothing line with Leo called Shibori Threads. I also enjoy some Valorant from time to time and, of course, some anime.
DO YOU HAVE ANY "UNEXPECTED" MUSICAL INFLUENCES THAT MIGHT SURPRISE LISTENERS — AND HOW DO THEY IMPACT YOUR OWN CREATIVITY?
As we said before, Leo and I honestly have influences from all genres, which seeps in both through songwriting and mixing standpoints. I'd say "Enemy" specifically has some video-game soundtrack flare, some 2000's nu-metal vibes, and a little bit of 2010's metalcore feel, all pulled together under a crushingly heavy umbrella, which is effectively utilizing most of the Brand of Sacrifice toolkit.
YOU'RE RELEASING "ENEMY" WITH A COMIC BOOK. TELL US ABOUT THAT.
Myself and our marketing manager Bradley Zorgdrager put our heads together on the story, which I then modified. It's very preliminary since we'd like to see how the reception is before we really dive in. Thematically, it takes after the whole BOS world but mostly Lifeblood and "Enemy."
It's about overcoming and moving past without giving in to your darkest impulses that could consume you, all with the knowledge that you'll never get rid of that "Animal" inside. One could take the demon and angel as real entities, or they could be metaphorical. We've only begun to scratch the surface of this story here, which we tease via the dialogue: "This is only the beginning." It very well could be considered Issue #0, as comics are sometimes numbered.
Hopefully, we can delve deeper into the lore down the line, assuming the fans love this new form of expression for us. It's very exciting to be building our own world and lore after starting primarily singing about Berserk. Miura's influence and overall feel will always penetrate our tendencies, but we're really happy to create our own world.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FUNNY OR INTERESTING STORIES ABOUT THE MAKING OF "ENEMY" AND/OR ITS ACCOMPANYING COMIC?
As far as writing "Enemy," there's a part in the song that was inspired by the 90s Spider-Man cartoon when the church bells are ringing, allowing Peter Parker to separate from the Venom symbiote, whose weakness is noise. This leads to Eddie Brock's partnership with the symbiote and things were never the same. We incorporated those loud chiming sounds into the build-up, which gives the song a super dark sound, almost gothic — but like the time period/aesthetic, not the music genre. And when the bell rings right before the breakdown hits? COME ON! Our marketing manager Bradley Zorgdrager is also obsessed with Carnage — and by proxy, Spider-Man, and Venom — and I remember excitedly voice noting our group chats to tell him the origin of the part.
IF YOU COULD ONLY PLAY ONE OF BRAND OF SACRIFICE'S SONGS FOR SOMEONE TO INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR BAND, WHAT SONG WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I think "Eclipse" is always a good starting point. The fact that it was the first song we ever created yet sums up our band so well is kind of mind-blowing. It's got a killer ending, and if you enjoy that song you'll surely enjoy everything else we have to offer.