Released: 2005, Ferret Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Please pass the salt. My plate of crow is a tad bland...
Maybe it was the infernal heat or the rash of interchangeable hardcore bands at last summer’s Sounds of The Underground but when A Life Once Lost came on, I wrote them off immediately as yet another generic metalcore band. Well, a heaping helping of crow was in order after hearing the band’s latest album, HUNTER, a seething platter of modern metal that bridges many genres, most closely resembling Lamb of God’s neo-American thrash-core. There are also some similarities to Meshuggah in the riffs but those parallels are minimal. In essence, A Life Once Lost is their own band and actually quite unclassifiable. HUNTER is a real surprise and an album that stands heads above the attention-seeking masses.
Combining groove, aggression and spastic riffs, “Rehashed” explodes forward setting the pace for most of HUNTER. Robert Meadows’ shrieking roar is a clearer version of Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe’s mad-dog bark and it suits the material here well. Robert Carpenter and Douglas Sabolick execute tight, staccato riffs (“Vulture”) that combine the occasional Dillinger-esque skronk (“Grotesque”) with technically complex thrash riffs (“A Rush and Siege”) and the odd foray into pinch harmonics. Solos, most notably on album highlight, “Vulture,” (featuring guest vocals by Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe) are delivered with fluid precision yet never drift into excessive showmanship. Nicholas Frasca’s bass thunders through the extremely catchy “Needleman” and “Pain & Panic” is one of the purest metal songs I have heard in years. The slower title track and ambient instrumental “Salai” demonstrate the band is capable of more than face-ripping aggression and both tracks serve as a welcome breather at the midway point. “A Rush & Siege” and “With Pitiless Blows” are straight-ahead, moshpit-ready American thrash that could easily have been written by Lamb of God.
A Life Once Lost came off as a Meshuggah cover band on their last album, A GREAT ARTIST and many may pick away at their uncannily close sound to Lamb of God on HUNTER. The Meshuggah-isms are still there but when mixed with a more straight-forward act like Lamb of God, the end result is a metalcore (at heart) album that offers more than the usual Swedish-inspired leads, breakdowns and harsh/clean vocal trade-offs. HUNTER is unoriginal but what A Life Once Lost does with the material keeps things sounding fresh and interesting, a rare feat in the deluge of metalcore albums.
KILLER KUTS: “Needleman,” “Vulture,” “Pain & Panic,” “Grotesque,” “A Rush and Siege,” “With Pitiless Blows”