Iron Gag
11 tracks - playing time: 41:20 min.
Ferret Music
Rating: 8.5/10
A Life Once Lost are back. After the very nice and incredibly violent, yet a little one-sided ‘Hunter’, ‘Iron Gag’ is upon us. A record with more diversity and melody than ‘Hunter’, some Southern rock bits and the vocal aid of Randy Blythe of awesome Lamb Of God fame. It results in an album with a whole sack of phenomenal, even somewhat, somehow catchy tracks and very good songwriting skills. All this without losing the core of the intensity and anger of the previous album. Iron Gag, the fifth album of A Life Once Lost, is once again a shining example of fierce modern metal.

The band wastes no time whatsoever at the start of the album, kicking in with ‘Firewater Joyride’ and ‘Detest’, both up-tempo, bloodthirsty songs. They mix things up with the following ‘The Wanderer’, a song that is very melodic and more rock than metal. Surprising it is indeed to hear vocalist Robert Meadows not grunt and scream his throat to a bloody pulp. It’s a decent track, but with some less impressive lyrics (‘So that you can feel better about yourself’…Mmh) and a dreadful start: okay because of the decent songwriting and the parts fitting together, but this track is a ‘skip’ or ‘next’ nonetheless.
Luckily though, the band henceforth continues undeterred, to commence with the torture and dread in their signature staccato way, but with a bit of melody here and there this time around. Ten of the eleven songs on Iron Gag are fierce modern metal tracks like this, yet this violence doesn’t become a problem for the ears, which is mostly due to the better songwriting and said occasional melody.

On the whole, it all sounds less shrill than on the band’s previous outing, which makes this here album more listenable than its predecessor. A factor in this is the aforementioned newly included Southern rock influence. Although there are some reviewers who disapprove, not me. Of course, it might help that I am a big fan of bands like Lamb Of God and Stuck Mojo (from the South of US, namely Georgia), so maybe I am somehow biased, but I think the Southern stuff brings a new dimension to the music of A Life Once Lost.
No less important: singer Robert Meadows now uses his voice more effectively, and brings in some variety. It is now not only his somehow raspy grunt, no, he also sings a bit lower and uses more, albeit slight, variations of vocal pitch. This makes his voice endurable and enjoyable for longer periods of time than in the past. (Thank you, mister Blythe?)

A Life Once Lost’s ‘Iron Gag’ sounds like Meshuggah meets Lamb Of God, and that’s a great combination. The band have successfully incorporated a new dimension into their sound and have evolved in their songwriting skills big time, which makes their new album an awesome one. I can’t even pick favourite songs, I mean ‘Silence’, ‘Ill Will’, ‘Detest’, ‘Worship’ and ‘All Teeth’ are all awesome, and the five others apart from ‘The Wanderer’ as well. Really. Listen to this record at least five times before judging, and you’ll love it too.

(Frank M.)

© Rockezine.com Jan 08, 2008, viewed 6517 times since 666