Released: 2006, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The inevitable backlash will come for the Bay Area’s Light This City on their third album, FACING THE THOUSAND. In fairness, the melodic death market is flooded with bands hoping their own take on easy-on-the-ear Gothenburg riffs and harsh vocals will appeal to the masses and Light This City is surely no different. The riffs are familiar, the vocals standard and the songwriting won’t be inspiring anyone. What sets the band apart from the rest—besides having a female vocalist—is their apparent flippant attitude towards the naysayers. They know they are one of a horde of bands seeking the golden chalice of acceptance (possibly hinted at by the album title) but if the music here is any indication, they don’t give a rat’s ass and present a solid bunch of driving metal tunes as their case.
The critical element of any melodic death band worth their weight is the guitar tandem and Brian Forbes and Steve Hoffman are able to dish out respectable, mid-nineties Swedish-inspired riffs that worm their way into the psyche with exacting precision and sweet-sounding tunefulness. These guys aren’t reinventing the wheel by any means but they sure know how to slip a hook into a riff. Tracks like “The Unwelcome Savior,” “City of Snares” and “Like Every Song’s Our Last” are seasoned with fluid fretwork that stands up instantly against the Gothenburg forefathers. Not that it should matter but to someone who doesn’t know any better, Laura Nichol’s verbal assault could be spewed from any scruffy metal dude without any indication said growler is in possession of an X chromosome. She shrieks, growls, rasps and howls with maximum effect on every song but when partnered up with The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad on “Fear of Heights,” the two square off in a vocal duel that is blissfully brutal. Drummer Ben Murray ushers in a vicious death metal breakdown at the midway point of “Cradle For A King” and his double bass work on “Maddening Swarm” is most impressive.
As they did on 2005’s REMAINS OF THE GODS, Light This City melds Bay Area thrash riffs and intensity with Swedish melodies on the immensely enjoyable FACING THE THOUSAND. While its members (averaging only 20 years of age) clearly wear their influences on their sleeves, FACING THE THOUSAND is melodic death metal done right and with frightening precision. No one will step away from this album without having a bevy of guitar melodies echoing through their skull and while they may not be the most original band to ever scuttle off a riff, Light This City is clearly at the helm of the new breed of melodic death metal acts.
KILLER KUTS: “Cradle For A King,” “The Unwelcome Savior,” “Maddening Swarm,” “City of The Snares,” “Fear of Heights,” “Like Every Song’s Our Last”