Review Summary: Whatever you're into, metalcore or "deathcore" you can find something to like with this violent release from "A Life Once Lost".
Deathcore? It seems that every kind of music has a core at it these days. Popcore, Metalcore, Emocore, and the list goes on and on, but deathcore? Where did that come from? Wherever it was, it is obviously not a peaceful place, as deathcore (or metalcore, or as the band calls it "technical groove metal") band A Life Once Lost has devised an album that can give your younger siblings nightmares for weeks. That's right, Hunter is the perfect album to pop into your stereo whenever your little sister just refuses to leave your room. Of course the album has more use than that, though, it's also a superb metal/deathcore album that might even give fans of the genre a few night terrors themselves. The band members and their duties are as follows:
Robert Meadows - Vocals
Robert Carpenter - Guitar
Douglas Sabolick - Guitar
Nick Frasca - Bass
Justin Graves - Drums
Upon insertion, this album will immediately blast heavy instrumentation and blood-curdling vocals right out of your speakers. Album opener "Rehashed" gets right to the good stuff, wasting no time on a fade in intro, this song begins it's assault on your eardrums with a quick drum fill and then goes to a rather heavy intro, if I don't say so myself. Everything stops for a millisecond and suddenly it all comes back with a new player, some very The Agony Scene style vocals. Sure, you've heard them before, but A Life Once Lost makes no attempt to make themselves accessible to the more melody seeking metal heads, that's right, no clean vocals. This may just drive some people away, but it is also a relative breath of fresh air that could attract some die-hard metalists to the genre. Now, the screaming is top notch, but one problem is that the pitch never really changes. It is really a good thing that this guy has such an excellent death metal shriek, or else the vocals themselves would be enough to induce convulsions. The lyrics, though, are simply amazing. Sure, they have their cliché moments, such as in "Vulture" where you hear the line "I can promise you one thing, I will haunt you until you die" screamed repeatedly. Then, though, you have some unique lyrics, like this one from "Rehashed": "I am the Kamikaze dreamer" or maybe the first words from "Needle Man" where you hear "What happens here stays here, right?" sinisterly screamed at the beginning of the song.
Another problem that isn't really an issue is the guitar work. While each song features great lead and rhythm guitars and several riffs each song, most namely "Rehashed" has the guitarists cycling through each riff several times throughout each song. Thankfully, the guitarists have talent, and therefore each riff, no matter how many times they play it in each song, is able to remain interesting because you notice something new about it each time that you didn't hear before. Each song has a unique riff that is different from each, like the heavy intro and verse riff of "Needle Man", which features a slightly classic metal inspired guitar lick just before the song breaks into it's violent sledge hammer attack of a verse. The guitarists also have the ability to write a tasteful solo every once in a while. "Vulture" features a rather strange solo. At first you think it's going to become a breakdown, but the lead guitar builds speed and it eventually becomes a melodic festival of metallic shredding above a breakdown style rhythm guitar. "Pain and Panic" also has a very superb solo that features an even faster shred-attack than that of "Vulture". The best solo, though is the very dissonant chaos found in the song "Grotesque". Aside from the unique riffs and the great soloing, the guitarists also will punctuate one of their start-stop riffs with a random pinch harmonic. They also go out on a limb and try some fairly ballad like guitar riffs in the song "Hunter". The slow guitars create a contrast to the slow screaming and keep the song kind of interesting, but after a few minutes you have to wonder why you are still listening, as the song starts to get boring after the 2nd verse.
The rhythm section is very tight. Speedy double bass patterns and angry cymbal beatings accent the heavy background set by the rhythm guitar. While there aren't many drum fills or rolls, the drummer manages to keep rhythm keeping a very interesting affair. The bass does little more than build a foundation for the guitars, though, which is truly a pity because a bass solo would really ice the cake. The best song for the rhythm section and the shining moment for the bass is instrumental track "Salai". The guitars build a heavy rhythm from the crashing drums, and about ¾ of the way through, the bass breaks into a small lead section that is a major treat for the ears.
Another excellent eargasm comes in the form of the song structures themselves. Each song is an event of organized chaos that keeps the listener guessing. With the original song structures, each song brings a new surprise. "A Rush and Siege" features a very maniacal song progression with several breakdowns and a few random licks, then a solo, more breakdowns, and a verse that is broken into about 5 pieces. The structures of each song is unique, except for the two songs "I Give In" and "Ghosting" seem to melt into one song because of their similar sounds.
Now, while this might be a core album, I think that everyone should give it a chance, as it sort of breaks the mold of today's metalcore scene while not breaking new ground, if that makes sense. Fans of metalcore might be made a little uncomfortable due to the lack of melodic singing, but they might also find a new favorite band. Check it out, I'm sure you'll like it.