The pairing of conventionally technical guitars breezing through thrash chugs and heavy metal–esque melodicism with dark, hard-hitting, mean metalcore is what I loved most about Santa Paula quintet Slowbleed’s debut EP, Never Been Worse. It was also more than enough to make me extremely excited for their first full-length release, excitement that I now know was completely warranted. The Blazing Sun, a Fiery Dawn is a huge step up for the band in every possible way, from the disturbing cover art (and Never Been Worse‘s was already great) to the execution of the exterior metallic influences that put even more weight behind the vicious hardcore assaults. The 48-second “Aurora” is an innocuous enough intro, but the following “Ice Cold Odyssey” makes it clear there is no fucking around to be found here. And from then on, there’s little to no mercy either; each track lashes out with dizzying solos, vocals straight from the depths of hell, and plodding, ridiculously brutal breakdowns that feel like being repeatedly clubbed over the head. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Sangre” through to the end and then we’ll talk. “The Law (Atonement Through Blood)” is another standout that seems to distill everything great about Slowbleed into a single blow (to the head, again). The unrelenting heaviness finally breaks for a brief moment on “Driven by Fire”—a quiet/loud-whiplashing track that, despite only being four minutes and 26 seconds long, feels nothing short of epic—and the subsequent acoustic interlude “Diluculum” before the awe-inspiring culmination that is “Graves (Pours of Earth).” I’m not usually one for the almost cheesy guitar shredding, but my god, it’s just perfect here.