A Life Once Lost

Iron Gag

Written by: PP on 14/10/2007 15:20:02

About a year ago I stumbled upon the re-issue of A Life Once Lost's 2003 album "A Great Artist", reviewed it, and thought 'this definitely sounds interesting, but it is far from being crafted to its full potentail as of yet'. To me, the album borrowed far too much from metalcore and southern metal without having its own identity, and as a result it sounded like a genre rip off by a band that hadn't fully decided on exactly how it wants to sound like. Of course, after that came the critically acclaimed "Hunter", which focused the bands sound and is considered their breakthrough album, so I'm a bit late on proclaiming that the band has finally hit bullseye and found their own identity with their newest album "Iron Gag". Heck, I haven't even listened to "Hunter" enough to have forged an opinion about it, so bear that in mind while reading the rest of this review.

But aside from my ignorance of much of their past material, I'd say I'm still able to judge the progress the band has made up to "Iron Gag", at least if compared to "A Great Artist". The most notable difference is that their sound isn't as chaotic as it used to be. Vocalist Meadows has been taking some vocal lessons from Lamb Of God's Randy Blythe, and as a result sounds a lot like Blythe does on "Sacrament". Old fans need not to worry, however, because he doesn't sound like a carbon copy of Blythe. His trademark raging vocals are still dominant, but they are more organized and versatile than ever before. Similar effect can be seen with the instrumental work; most metalcore references have effectively been removed or at least fine-tuned to the point where you'd be hard pressed on slapping the metalcore tag onto the band. There's much more rowdy southern groove to the riffs and the hooks are catchier even though the relative brutality of their sound has been preserved. Opener "Firewater Joyride" depicts this in a perfect example: its riffs are intricate and the structure is varying, the tempo changes are imminent and the chorus kicks you in the balls the southern way.

The other problem with "A Great Artist" was that it sounded far too monotonous. This too has been fixed on "Iron Gag". "The Wanderer" sees the band tread into slower, more atmospheric melodic metal for the first time in their existence, and surprise surprise it turns out that it is also the best track on the album. The contrast between Meadows' rough vocal style and the slow melody works really well here, and one can only wonder why the heck isn't the band writing songs like this one all the time?

The southern-fried faster metal they have on most other tracks does get a bit tiring, and although the highlights (see "Detest", "Firewater Joyride" and "Worship") are great, the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to these songs. As so often is the case, the idea is great, but the execution is lacking. There are many gems on the album, but equally many tracks that make me just go 'meh'. If Lamb Of God is your favorite band, don't miss this release.

Download: Firewater Joyride, The Wanderer
For the fans of: Lamb Of God, The Acacia Strain, Bury Your Dead
Listen: Myspace

Release date 18.09.2007
Ferret Records
Provided by Target ApS

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