Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review of "Ecstatic Trance" by A Life Once Lost

Buy this album

1. Something Awful
2. Gnawing Lisp
3. Madness Is God
4. Miracle Worker
5. Empty Form
6. I Am
7. The Blues
8. People Stare
9. I See, I Hear
10. I Sit Ill
11. Asteroid [bonus Killing Joke cover]

Time to reconsider A LIFE ONCE LOST. You will still find the band as angry and relentless as ever since their founding in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the year 1999. Yet with their sixth album the Americans are boldly stepping out of the Metalcore corner they have been painted into. “Ecstatic Trance” thrills with a sinister coldness founded on huge, jagged riffs and churning, syncopated rhythms, which are contrasted by emotive guitar playing, explosive vocals and capturing melodies. A LIFE ONCE LOST founders Doug Sabolick and Bob Meadows create a disturbing vision born out of musical maturity for which they even cut ties with most other members. Their new sonic art fuses influences ranging from KILLING JOKE to CAN, KING CRIMSON to KRAFTWERK, FELA KUTI and more with their own organic soundscapes. A LIFE ONCE LOST set out with their first full-length “Open Your Mouth for the Speechless...In Case of Those Appointed to Die” (2000) and the “The Fourth Plague: Flies” EP (2001) to perform live with locals such as CONVERGE, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and LAMB OF GOD. With “A Great Artist” (2003) their dark, rhythmic sound took hold and A LIFE ONCE LOST rose from a Northeast favorite to an all American phenomenon. The more refined “Hunter” (2005) even got the band invited to the prestigious Ozzfest in 2006. With “Iron Gag” (2007) they introduced traditional rock grooves and a more confident swagger into their already explosive sound and toured worldwide alongside HIGH ON FIRE, SUICIDE SILENCE, JOB FOR A COWBOY and others. Now A LIFE ONCE LOST are ready for the next giant step in their continuous evolution. Be warned: “Ecstatic Trance” is not for kids!

A Life Once Lost is an interesting change from the black metal of Rage NuclĂ©aire. The first track, “Something Awful,” brings nice technical riffs in the hard to follow Meshuggah style manner. The vocals are also reminiscent of them as well. I like the guitars on “Gnawing Lisp.” Although very repetitive, they are really intriguing. The lead and solo over top are very well done as well. “Madness Is God” is really groovy feel with the simplistic drums and catchy guitar and the lead parts are really great. The next track, “Miracle Worker” has some really amazing hard to follow chugs. I really enjoy when you don’t expect something from the guitars, time signatures are for the weak.

The guitars on “Empty Form” are relaxing, to me anyways, the way the rhythm and lead flowed. When the track picks up it sounds great and the riffs may feel a little repetitive but it doesn’t take away from it at all. “I Am” is just a short but heavy chug instrumental. “The Blues” brings really ambient guitars with the way they ringing out. The actual riff is really catchy and the “ooh” chant was really badass and kind of tribal. There is a great groove with the guitars and drums in “People Stare,” with interesting playing patterns especially the main part. I also liked the solo near the end as it was great as well.

The guitars are really hard to follow on “I See, I Hear,” which makes it that more interesting to listen to. The lead is awesome and adds to the epicness of the track. “I Sit Ill” continues with the more interesting riffs. The lead diddles on this track are nice. The final track is a cover of Killing Joke’s Asteroid and after hearing both back to back, I am torn between which I like better. The original vocals of Jaz Coleman were much more enjoyable than Robert Meadows rendition but the heaviness of the cover makes it so much better, and although I like Jordan Crouse’s drumming….. Dave Grohl, ‘nuff said.

This album is an interesting one. The guitars of Doug Sabolick are calculated, the vocals of Robert Meadows are very well done, and Jordan Crouse is great. My only issue is that this album is very similar in its style to Meshuggah. I do like A Life Once Lost, but I’d have to say if I had to pick between the two to listen to, it’d be Meshuggah. Don’t make that your opinion, as this album is great. It is just not the greatest in that particular genre.

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