Review Summary: A lot more metalcore than I expected but it's still very good for what it is.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Death By Stereo is one of those bands that I always wanted to get into but I never got around to it until recently. It was only a few days ago that I found out what they sounded like after I stumbled across a copy of their fourth album, Death For Life in a record store and decided to give it a go. I had always assumed that Death By Stereo were strictly a punk band judging from most of their fans have told me about them, but they were a lot different than I expected.
I'm not sure how this compares to their other material since this is my first time hearing the band, however I can definitely say that they posses a lot of talent and use it very well. Death For Life flows similarly to a metalcore record with vocalist Efrem Schulz using a high-pitched shriek/scream on most of the songs. He contrasts it with a deep, soulful singing voice which has it's ups and downs. Ups being on the chorus of the closer, "This Is Not The End" and downs being on the bridge of "I Give My Life." Guitarists Tito Owens and Jim Palmer also show their skills on this album as they provide some great guitar solos ("Forever and A Day," "This Curse of Days") and metal-reminiscent riffs. Bassist Tyler Rebbe and drummer Todd Henning also do a solid job at their respective positions.
Death For Life begins with "Binge/Purge," a song which starts off with chants of the album name and leads into a quick chugging guitar pattern backed with Schulz's high-pitched shrieking. This is one of the few tracks where his singing voice comes off very well when he uses it. Owens' and Palmer's dual guitar melodies are also great on this track. "I Give My Life" is a bit more commercial metalcore sounding than the rest of the album. It's chorus is pretty catchy but it's definitely one of the weaker tracks on the album. "Entombed We Collide" has Avenged Sevenfold singer Matt Shadows helping out with backing vocals in the chorus, which work surprisingly well.
A very interesting track is the ballad, "Forever and A Day," a very powerful and moving track with it's chorus;
"I can't take away this fever, I can't take away the pain, But I will fight with you forever, forever and a day I can't face this world on my own, I keep on searching for your face, I promise that we'll live forever, forever and a day."
However, this song becomes gradually heavier as it goes and as noted before, it features a fantastic guitar solo from Owens and Schulz. The great guitar work is prominent for most of Death For Life but it's most notable on "Forever and A Day," "This Curse of Days," and "W.W.J.D." "This Curse of Days" also has a very catchy melody, a great chorus, a few cool drum fills and another ripping solo making it another strong track. The rest of the album is pretty much more of the same, nothing terribly stands out until "Don't Piss On My Neck and Tell Me It's Raining," another slower track. However, this one hits you right in the face a little over a minute in with shouts of "Hate! *** this revolting world!" and then it continues with style similar to the rest of the album only the lyrics are much more angry and aggressive on this track.
"Open wide as I *** you in the mouth, block the lies from gouging my eyes out,
Choke on my cum, enjoy your last breath, turning blue we celebrate your death
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, the young die fast, you *** the rest,"
This record does have some downsides, one main one being Efrem Schulz's clean vocals. He doesn't exactly have the best singing voice in the world and it shows on quite a few spots. There are also some laughable parts of songs like the spoken word bridge of "Middle Fingers." The lyrics to "Don't Piss On My Neck..." are a bit laughable as well if you interpret them literally. A chunk of the album does have good lyrical content, thankfully because that's something that's missing from metalcore.
In general, Death For Life was a surprise for me as I was expecting more of a punk/melodic hardcore record and not a metalcore sounding one. There were a few downsides to this album but overall, I'd say it's a very solid record and I would definitely prefer it over bands like Atreyu, It Dies Today, etc. I'm not sure if this would be a good starter record for the band since it was my first time listening to them properly but it's gotten me interested in checking out their other material so Death For Life definitely isn't a bad one to start out with.
Favorite Tracks: This Curse of Days, Binge/Purge, Forever and A Day, This Is Not The End