Review Summary: Light This City further refine their unique sound on their sophomore album.
So once again I’m off to my favorite place: The Theater of Defunct Bands. It’s a place where you can watch videos of the individual albums by bands that are no longer active. There are a few current bands that I enjoy but I always seem to end up here because nothing can compare to the feeling I got the first time I heard bands like Edge of Sanity, Dissection and At the Gates. So many have been influenced by these bands but they just don’t have “it”, you know what “it” is, the feeling that you were hearing something that wasn’t just a cheap imitation of something else.
So after watching “Slaughter of the Soul”
for the umpteenth time I was getting ready to leave and continue my hopeless search for a band that can once again give me that feeling when I was stopped by a fellow At the Gates fan. He said he was headed for a showing of Light This City’s “Remains of the Gods”
and that if I liked At the Gates, I would enjoy it. Well I know I’ve heard that before, an american metal band that was influenced by At the Gates, veeery original but I figured I’d give them a chance, couldn’t be any worse than the current bands out there so I might as well. So here we go, all the way back to… 2005? I expect defunct bands to be from the 80s and 90s, hard to believe that this band is already inactive.
As the show starts, I see a small, thin girl in the center of the stage between two guitars, directly behind them is a drum kit and off in the distance, a bass player. An unusual looking man takes a seat behind the drum kit, he has six arms and they extend to play both guitars AND drums! This slight girl lets loose with a roar and proceeds to alternate between deep, guttural growls and a softer(relatively speaking) raspy scream. It’s very difficult to decipher the lyrics, they are shown as captions but I wonder if I should read them. Many times a vocalist’s lyrics are unintelligible but if you look into them, they’re nonsense anyway, that’s when the saying “ignorance is bliss” truly applies because sometimes the vocals sound good but when you read the lyrics and see how stupid they are, the vocals don’t seem as good anymore. But Light This City’s lyrics are fascinating, as on the track “Fractured by the Fall:” “I've got the Holy Grail, but where's my wine to fill it? I've been blessed with the Midas touch, now where are my diamonds?”
Delivered with an impassioned, brutal intensity. Definitely not your typical, mindless death metal lyrics.
The drummer/guitarist also impressed me laying down some incredibly catchy, melodic riffs as displayed on “Obituary” all the while backing it up with his relentless drumming that walks the line between thrash and death metal mixing in tempo changes that compliment the excellent riffing. The bass player was… there. I think.
My head was spinning after taking in this incredible performance and at 34 minutes it seemed shorter because of the furious pace and how enjoyable it was. I had to see this again, was it just the initial shock of witnessing this for the first time or was it really that good? Well it really was that good after repeated times, there are some very memorable riffs that are really the only thing that helps you differentiate between songs, they all seem to blend together in a thrashy-melodeath whirlwind but every track is great except for the last one, the unfortunately titled “The Last Catastrophe,” an instrumental that lacks the speed and aggression of the rest of the album. Light This City are a perfect blend of melody and brutality, as catchy and memorable as the riffing is, the speedy, thrashy drumming and vicious vocal delivery give it an undeniable heaviness. Further listenings show the depth of the lyrics on tracks such as “Your Devoted Victim” where you’re left to interpret the meaning behind the words said. I was shocked to find out that vocalist Laura Nichol was under 20 years old yet wrote all the lyrics, drummer/guitarist Ben Murray (also under 20 ) wrote all the song and bassist Mike Dias… played bass.
I remember watching the credits to At the Gates’ “Slaughter of the Soul”
where it said “influenced by Slayer’s Reign in Blood,”
that thrash influence is what separated them from bands like Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. Light This City also had a heavy thrash influence, being from the Bay Area, home to bands like Testament and Exodus, that influence shone through and separated them from their contemporaries. Unfortunately it was short lived and I’m now forced to watch them only at The Theater of Defunct Bands. “Remains of the Gods”
is a perfect time capsule for Light This City, a group of youngsters brimming with passion doing what they loved to do and an enthusiasm that hadn’t been blunted by the musician’s lifestyle or the workings of the music business.
Fractured by the Fall
Guiding the North Star