Where the waters and sands meet of thrash metal and a running leg drop, DRAIN would make Hulk Hogan proud based on their full sprint into the murky, shark-infested waters where the Santa Cruz natives thrive. From the initial moments, California Cursed is a shout-fest surrounded by hard-body instrumentation and a destructive undertone. It is only until further inspection that the playstyle and lyrics coincide within this dystopian future where the seas flood the Earth, shattering all life under the waves.
DRAIN is the love child of blitzing riffs with a sense of gleaming, almost shiny production that actually holds some connection to the early roots of mosh-pit inducing thrash and the complexity of hardcore. With Sam Ciaramitaro on the vocals, Cody Chavez covers guitars with Tim Flegal on the percussion. Bringing along the rhythm section is Justin Rhode on the bass and truthfully, holds a bigger part than most bass acts through records. Often times, Rhode sets this tone where the rest of DRAIN is almost commanded behind. When the other instruments become the forefront of the focus, the spotlight burns around these rapid, but well-placed breakdowns and runs that begin on “Feel The Pressure.”
California Cursed is at heart, a shortened record of only 22 minutes spanning over 10 tracks. By the time the listener can hunker down and feel the footing beneath, the record turns over into a new leaf. This is not to say that California Cursed is not without excitement however, nearly 90% of the record is consistently on fire and always in movement. From the first seconds that explode after “Feel The Pressure” holds the audience underwater until the bubbles stop or the blast beats of “Sick One” that are more sadistic and built by barbed wire than any beaches.
“Sick One” is actually an immaculate stepping stone for DRAIN as while the track is only 58 seconds, the shouts and howls belong closer to an 80’s hair metal track than any deeper growls built for intimidation. It is fascinating how the vocals for DRAIN were one of the last things to grow and really become cemented as a pivotal piece of the record, but now the vocals would not match with any other sound. They exist in this symbiotic nature where one needs the other to survive. Just as DRAIN needs paralyzing production and instrumentation, so does the band need a unique stance on vocals.
While DRAIN does not do anything immensely out of the ordinary, California Cursed is a solid quick dive into the saltwater where instead of one single large predator, the audience is surrounded at all times. DRAIN makes the listener fear what lurks beneath and before they bounce on, they etch their names into 831’s territory.