Out of all the records rumored to be released in 2023, the one which I was most eager to hear is the second full-length album from Drain, a band hailing from Santa Cruz, California. On Feb. 7 the band finally announced details about the upcoming album and dropped the single “Evil Finds Light.” The new album, titled “Living Proof,” is due for release on May 5 and will be Drain’s debut LP on Epitaph Records. The new album will also feature “Watch You Burn,” a single released in 2021.
Drain has been cruising since the release of their triumphant 2020 LP “California Cursed,” and they are especially thriving in the live sphere post-pandemic. The band has become renowned for their bedlam-at-the-beach sets featuring stage divers on boogie boards and moshers wielding pool noodles. This past July, Drain headlined the Sound and Fury festival. So it’s no surprise that their upcoming album “Living Proof” will be released on Epitaph Records, putting Drain among a roster of some of the biggest acts to come out of alternative music.
“Evil Finds Light” fits right into the usual Drain pocket, but is slightly bulked up with sections of slow, pounding guitar interspersed with the quick chugs that guitarist Cody Chavez usually deals out. What struck me immediately is that the band is really dialed in, as “Evil Finds Light” wastes no time in getting into the grit of the song. Drain may be loose in their attitude, but they are tight in their playing. There are smooth starts and stops and abrupt switches throughout “California Cursed” and based on the two singles there will be in “Living Proof” as well. “Evil Finds Light” showcases vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro at his most confrontational with one of the highlights of the song being a satisfying guttural note in the last seconds of the track.
Drain’s style of thrashy hardcore is intense, but it is not distancing. The abrasive nature of their sound means that there’s a harsh element, but it is also up close and personal. Their personability is the result of fast, upbeat riffs that add some catchiness to their songs. Also notable are the band members, as Ciaramitaro has developed a reputation for his sunny disposition. When I witnessed Drain play at This is Hardcore fest in Philadelphia this past summer, I don’t think he stopped smiling for a second.
While it doesn’t fit every band, there is great value in the fun of heavy and high-energy music, and that’s reflected in every aspect of Drain. To call a band “fun” can sound condescending. It signals the sentiment that a band lacks depth or musical prowess and that energy alone gives them likability. When it comes to Drain, their brand of fun is not kitschy or a substitute for the music. Rather, their enthusiasm amplifies the best elements of the band’s sound and personality, making them naturally approachable and exciting.
If you have not joined the Drain party yet, “Evil Finds Light” is your invitation. Their fresh take on thrash metal-influenced hardcore is right up my alley and based on their rising popularity I am not the only one. It will be interesting to see where “Living Proof” takes Drain next, but if “Evil Finds Light” is any indicator, then the band will continue to thrive with the unique sound and aesthetic they have been developing since their inception in 2014. Drain is ready to strike, but unlike the sharks emblazoned on their merchandise, the band isn’t looking to spoil anyone’s beach day — I foresee “Living Proof” as the soundtrack of the summer for heavy music fans.
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