Although this album isn't a new release, having come out in September last year, it will be a fantastic reminder on what to expect on A Life Once Lost's (ALOL) forthcoming support slot on Seattle-based Himsa's 'Summon in Thunder’ European Tour, which starts at the end of this month. The Philadelphian metalcore quintet will be on the road with other support acts Too Pure To Die and Ted Maul (UK only).
“Riffs and spliffs” is how vocalist Bob Meadows described the making of ‘Iron Gag’. He is not wrong. From the first track ‘Firewater Joyride’ it is an album of ascending, groove-laden, drop-d riffs, and heavy chugging breakdowns. It’s easy to imagine how thick the smoke was during the recording sessions. It’s a vicious and more personal album from previous efforts and you can hear all the band’s different influences throughout.
ALOL have said that they had a game plan for this album. After touring for 2 years on the back of ‘Hunter’, they wanted to get straight in the studio and create some kind of monster. If you listen to ‘Detest’ you will hear the result of that put straight onto the album. Known for their ferocious live shows, you can really hear the pummelling double-bass drums beat hard alongside crunchy guitars, squealed pinch harmonics and one hell of a sick solo. Other stand-out tracks such as ‘Worship’ and ‘The Wanderer’ have crowd pleasing shout-a-long choruses and on the penultimate track, ‘Silence’, guitarists Robert Carpenter and Snake Sustaine play stop-start riffs that have a whiff of metal-titans Meshuggah.
Fans of ALOL will notice a subtle change in Bob Meadows vocals from previous albums. Of course it is well known by now that Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) was essentially Meadows’ vocal coach on this album, and compared to the vocals ALOL on ‘Hunter’, Meadow's has been coached well. The guttural snarls that permeate each song are now coming from a deeper, darker place.
Iron Gag contains few respites from the continuing barrage of angular gargantuan riffs, grumbling overdriven bass, battering rhythm section, and rasping vocals. And that is how it should be.