Review Summary: Ever heard a 45 minute bassdrop?
Deathcore and metalcore as music were never exactly groundbreaking genres pushing the creative limits. Yes the first years that bands were making this style of music there was a certain level of interest and flair and I myself was a fan, but by and large today these genres are watered down and generic. With the rise of internet services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud it has become incredibly easy for any band, regardless of talent level, to have their music available over the internet which is a large part of over-saturation of extreme metal. Essentially, any teenage kid can record, mix, and release a record and get instant notoriety.
Above this is the two man project of teenagers Shawn O'Brien and Thomas Buser. Buser and O'Brien fit the description above of kids with no pedigree, no record label, and no equipment. The two kids have openly admitted that they started Above This as a joke and recorded all of L7L into their laptops. On top of that, the band mates do not even live in the same city with one recording vocals while the other records the instrumentation. Pile on top of that that these kids overuse almost every element in modern deathcore and usually I would write off the album as awful before I ever listen to it. However, I surprisingly enjoyed L7L. As I mentioned before, Above This is nothing special to write about musically, lyrically, or in any other facet. They are brutal chest-beating throw down music with synthetic elements thrown in. Aside from these problems, L7L is actually a very enjoyable album if you are able to step back and take it for what its worth.
I am a self proclaimed fan of 'ignorant mosh' and that is essentially what Above This does. They in no way try to be tactful or subtle, but only try to write the heaviest breakdowns, use the biggest bassdrops, and have the most hateful lyrics. Let me be clear, if you already dislike metalcore, deathcore, etc, there is no chance you like this album. On L7L, Above this takes all of the elements of these genres and concentrates it down to an almost pure form. Seriously, its almost admirable how these kids strip the music down to the basic elements of breakdown-chug-singalong-two-step. These are the only elements that really matter to Above This so they are able to carry them out very well. The breakdowns are massive, the bassdrops are aplenty, the lyrics are ignorant and angry, and often that is all I want out of my metal.
Getting down to specifics on the album, there are some faults. The album is 12 songs and runs for almost 45 minutes which is an awfully long time for this style of music. If one listens to this record all the way through it can definitely blend together since there are only so many ways to write breakdowns. Also, these kids recorded and mixed the album themselves which they deserve major props for, but it often shows. The vocals in particular could be produced much better in my opinion and have a rough edge to them. Speaking of production, boy do these guys love bassdrops. I have mentioned them several times throughout this review because each song literally has between four and six. There are several well placed drops that add great intensity to the song, but it can grow tedious and repetitive. One surprise element on this record is the use of electronic instrumentation. There are trance and techno beats interlaced into the songs which is one thing that separates this band from many of the other bands out there. Whether this element is a net positive depends on your opinion of electronic elements in extreme metal, but I believe they handled it well and adds to the layers of the songs. The vocals also have electronic manipulations on them as they sputter and crackle. The way the effect is used on the vocals adds to the intensity of the vocals, sounding like they are seconds away from crashing out of control. I am a big fan of any band that does this so of course I enjoyed this development, but beware, it is heavily used throughout the whole album.
Overall, if you are a fan of deathcore and can appreciate exactly what these dudes are trying to do then you will enjoy L7L. This album will remain heavily in my rotation for when I need loud and monotonous music or just ignorant mosh.