The stop-start sound of A Life Once lost is more of a nod to the technical metal of Converge and the experimentation of early iterations of Korn. The super-sonic screaming present on tracks like “Needleman” remind listeners of a younger Jonathan Davis, albeit one who is backed by a little more meaty musical backdrop. The constant use of the double-bass during tracks like the aforementioned “Needleman” and “Vulture” really provide a nice set of linkages between tracks, even if the overall sound varies considerably. The first really stand-out arrangement on the disc comes during the extended guitar solo on “Vulture”; the crunch vocals present here tend to blend in with the rest of the track’s constituent parts.
The multiple layers of vocals during “Pain & Panic” will immediately recall “Wait & Bleed-era” Slipknot; the distortion present on these tracks really has the unfortunate consequence of really fuzzing out what would normally be impressive arrangements. Luckily enough, the vocals cut out to really give the proper spotlight to another sizzling guitar solo that rapidly brings listeners to the ending of the track. The disc’s title track perhaps is the one really stand-out track on this album; the vocals really occupy a dual role as instrumental and lyrical, stuck in a middle ground between the deep sound of the drums and the shrill guitar work of the track. The repetitive guitar work and non-harmonic screaming present during “Grotesque” is balanced nicely by a few moments of clarity. Finally giving a little time for an opening during “Salai”, the slightly-electrified sound of the track is only a minor modification of the sound that dominates on most other places of the disc.
The short length of “Salai” is unfortunately not enough to change the prevailing sound of the disc; “A Rush & Siege” is the same Pantera/Kyuss mixture that is so common on this disc. There is little in the way of a track that will connect to a large segment of the population; the composition of songs on “Hunter” really seem to just throw dense, complicated arrangements in whenever the band wants (and context be damned!) There is no doubt that the music on “Hunter” is hard, and a perfect example of the technical hardcore that has dominated music the last few years. Much like these other technical hardcore bands, there is a lack of connection with the average music fan, as A Life Once Lost just creates these knotty, dense compositions that only a true fan (sadist) would like.
Top Tracks: With Pitiless Blows, Hunter
A Life Once Lost – Hunter / 2005 Ferret / 11 Tracks / http://www.alifeoncelost.com / http://www.ferretstyle.com / Reviewed 12 October 2005