A Riff Once Played
Metalcore can be a rather homogenous genre, with its specific tenets, melodic structure, and general ethos, so bands often resort to experimenting with other styles. However, it can be difficult to blend genres skillfully, without cheapening them both. Combine metalcore with trance-y, groovy metal, and you’ll get Philadelphia’s A Life Once Lost, who have returned after 5 years with their sixth full-length, Ecstatic Trance. While it will definitely induce a trance, the emotion provoked is far from ecstasy.
Opener “Something Awful” features an off-kilter, Meshuggah-style main riff, serving as a great anchor for Robert Meadows’ quasi-melodic ramblings. However, that’s all it features. The song doesn’t go anywhere beyond adding some solo-esque guitar over the single riff. And unfortunately, the same can be said of most every track on Ecstatic Trance. “Madness Of God” infuses a catchy, Latin-style rhythm into the single riff, but that’s about all it has going for it. Songs like “Miracle Worker,” “Empty Form” and “The Blues” drag on and on with no sense of structure, perhaps changing key or adding a bit more guitar, until they simply end. It’s actually surprising when the album ends, because one simply doesn’t see it coming.
The riffs the band has come up with are great. Unfortunately, they decided to only use one of those riffs for each song. If they had combined some of these riffs into one song, they would have had an awesome EP, instead of a boring LP. Fans of A Life Once Lost will probably want to pick this up. However, if you’re not already a fan, Ecstatic Trance isn’t going to change your mind. Honestly, unless your reasons for listening to metal involve needing to relax or take a nap, you can give this one a pass.