A Life Once Lost - Iron Gag
Ferret Records
11 songs (41'14)
Release year: 2007
Ferret Records
Reviewed by Crims

Formed in the late 90’s A Life Once Lost is yet another Metalcore/Groove band from the United States who recently released their newest release entitled Iron Gag. Though the band started during the first wave of this style, which I think is on its last leg for the most part, they still sound a lot like, well, everyone else. How much you’re into the whole Metalcore thing will likely define how much you like this CD. I’m not really into Metalcore except for a few bands (mostly those who incorporate more Metal than ‘core in their music) but since many of you enjoy this style a lot more than me it’s only fair I describe the music.

I suppose a starting point would be Lamb Of God minus the half-Thrash to full-Thrash riffs. The vocal style is almost identical though not quite as distinguishable (in that I don’t think I’d be able to pick it out of a crowd of similar vocalists). Though I have to admit the phrasing was somewhat catchy the song Worship demonstrates, for the most part everything is done by the books. I will say that the vocals were more decipherable than most so it’s not that the vocals are bad they just don’t stand out all that much. The same could be said for most of the riffs. They are a mix of the typical ‘core influences which some times are based from Thrash but more often than not are more Hardcore based. Interwoven between these ‘core moments are Groove riffs which sometimes just work their way into the Hardcore stuff, similar to Cancer Bats (but not as instantly catchy) and to a much further extent Pantera. The occasional legitimate full-on Groove riff is found as I heard a few (and I do mean a few) nods to mid-period Corrision Of Conformity but maybe my finger slipped and my computer played a few seconds of Wiseblood instead… I’m not sure. The melodic guitar sections are fairly strong as they avoid the recycled Melodic Death sound so many of these bands employ and they have definable characteristics as best demonstrated on All Teeth which for a moment sounds like legitimate Metal without any ‘core. The beginning of Meth Mouth also demonsrates this but then goes into a Pantera groove riff, (Vulgar Display Of Power era minus the intensity of say, Mouth Of War), which actually shows up on a regular basis as alluded to. You know, even though Pantera more or less ripped off the much better Exhorder for a large part of their post-Power Metal sound, I think they rank up there with the likes of Priest, Sabbath, and Maiden as far as influencing an entire generation of bands… but that’s a bit off-topic (notice I didn't say it was a good thing).

The production is one part of the release I was impressed with as it was actually self-produced but the guitars manage to have a thick and dirty sound to them while everything is mixed decently (a little mid-heavy on the guitars) so you can’t really tell it wasn’t professionally produced (unless you do a lot of music recording or sound engineering, than maybe you could tell). The song writing does attempt to be varied as a few slower songs exist which sounds a bit like when Pantera and Lamb Of God played/plays slow to mid-paced. These songs weren’t all that successful, thanks to the obnoxious vocals which I think are actually screamed even lounder than when the band plays aggressive and it turns into the type of mediocre stuff Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill was full of. I will give the band credit for attempting to mix things up instead of going full speed and full aggression for the entire CD although with the being said that is when the band is most successful as Other’s Die demonstrates. I caught myself head-banging manically to it but then lost interest as soon as the verse hits (poor man's Pantera again) and was immediately brought back in by nice melodic solo.

I suppose Other’s Die demonstrates the best and worst of the CD in one song. I don’t mind ‘core influences in music (I’m not going to say I love them, because I don’t) but the band sounds really good when they focus on the Metal side of Metalcore, and while the ‘core is the greater influence of the combining musical genres, those influences for the most part did not work because they sounded like worse versions of stuff which is already out there. A lot of ‘core riffs can be interchanged with better versions from any Lamb Of God, Pantera, or even God Forbid for that matter, release so the question is why would you spend your money on this? Well, you may not want to. For those with a passing interest in Metalcore this may just fall below the recommend status for you. For the already established, large or hard-core fans of the genre will likely want to give these guys a chance as some of the more aggressive riffs, some of vocal phrasing, production, and excellent lead work help bring the CD over mediocrity, but there is still mediocrity to be found within the slower songs, the not-so-aggressive riffs and attempts at groove aggression (although I liked the almost Mastadon styled rhythm structure of Silence which I've read was more pronounced on previous releases). Iron Gag is a classic case of try before you buy.

Killing Songs :
Worship, All Teeth, Silence, Ill Will
Crims quoted 67 / 100
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