Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Life Once Lost: "Iron Gag" review

Iron Gag
A Life Once Lost
Sept. 18th

2007 has been a banner year for new metal releases. The first seven months have seen thunderous new offerings from Pelican, Job for a Cowboy, The Red Chord, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, 3 Inches of Blood, and others who have set the bar to ridiculously far-fetched heights for those bands unfortunate enough to follow in their crushingly omnipotent wake.

Fortunately for us, A Life Once Lost is not easily intimidated, as is evident by the material on Iron Gag, their fifth album and third on the Ferret label. Its one thing, however, to not be intimidated; these dudes have shared the stage with Strapping Young Lad, Black Label Society, Norman Jean, Unearth, Chimaira, Himsa, Darkest Hour, Between the Buried and Me, as well as dozens of other heavyweights.

To unleash an album that hangs with the best and pit-stomps the rest…well, that’s something else entirely.

I’ve never heard this much pent-up energy in one disc. Robert Meadows comes blazing out of the gate like a napalmed mustang on opener “Firewater Joyride,” his throat-ripping vocals complementing the cleverly ascending groove-riffs of Robert Carpenter and “Snake” Sustaine (best stage name since Zacky Vengeance, by the way). They should have seriously thought about getting Rob Tyner to start that song off by screaming “Kick out the jams, m*****f***er!”

“Detest” maintains the stranglehold, with more tight riffs, and a sick guitar solo that teeters brilliantly on the verge of atonality. They let you breathe for a couple of minutes with the kinda-power ballad “The Wanderer,” before pummeling you senseless again with “All Teeth.”

A Life Once Lost are at the peak of their prowess; Iron Gag is nearly flawless, scary as hell, and unrepentantly catchy. All hail the breakdown.

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