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Scene kids Nu Groove - 77%

GoreBlaster1990, March 4th, 2009

After hearing "Hunter" by A Life Once Lost, I was curios to see what this album would be like. I had read that the album was gonna be different, with more influences added. You can certainly tell a difference between the two albums and I feel that this one is better. It takes A Life Once Lost out of the metallic moshcore crowd and places them into groove. That being said, not all Pantera fans will love this album, as A Life Once Lost tend to be a bit grating on the ears at first but most will warm to them eventually.

I think the main lyrical themes on here are hating and self-loathing. Just the guitars themselves provide a sense of loneliness and angst, while still being aggressive enough to keep your head banging and your fist pumping. These aren't the type of songs you wanna listen to if you're already depressed or if you have suicidal tendencies, that's for sure. This stuff is more like for when you're in a pissy mood and you are just mad at yourself for messing up or at someone else for messing up for you. It's the kind of music for those rainy days, where shit is just not working right. The grooves on the album are really good, and although they do at times create a sense of despair, they also provide for some interesting riffs. It's nice to see some good guitar work instead of the same ol' few regurgitated riffs followed by a breakdown. I mean there are guitar solos on this album that you couldn't pay a band like Devildriver to do.

The vocals on here are another good aspect of the album. The lead screamer yelps lyrics that are at times indecipherable, but overall it matches the music very well. It's like a dang cat clawing your face off! Definately NOT the thing that metal purists like. This is stuff that you gotta be ready for. I love this one song where he talks about planning his own suicide: definately sick. The drummer keeps up rather well with the vocalist and guitars. They all come together and make a wonderful display of angst. The downsides for the album are few but significant which is why I had to rate it a 77. You can't really just pick this album up everyday and enjoy it unless you're a grudge-holding moron who walks around pissed all the time. If you're like that you need a reality check. This album just isn't gonna work on a happy day, or if your life is complete and happy at the moment. It doesn't really feel right, & it may actually bring you down. So before picking up this album, be s! ure you have a reason for listening to it otherwise the replay value will be very small for you.

In closing let me say that this is a great album and certainly better then most metallic moshcore on the "scene" right now. But this isn't for everyone; and even if you like angry music you may still get tired of the album. The replay value is only gonna last as long as you have something to hate, or as long as you have self-guilt which you need to work through because staying mad all the time is senseless. This album is great for fans of Lamb of God, God Forbid, Pantera, Hell Yeah, etc... So pick it up and give these guys a listen!

Is This The Same Band? - 73%

MikeyC, May 24th, 2008

When the first track “Firewater Joyride” kicks in, it’s quite obvious that A Life Once Lost has changed a fair deal since their 2005 album “Hunter.” Did I say a fair deal? I meant completely. As in: They have seemingly completely changed what they are going, except that they are still evidently groove metal. They just embraced that tag much more here than they did there.

Iron Gag is nowhere near as technical as Hunter was. In fact, if all you heard was Hunter, you would be convinced that A Life Once Lost was a technical groove metal band. However here, they have ditched almost all of the technicality and went for a more straight-forward, groovy feel. I would count this as a bad move for this band, because what they had on Hunter was some of the most technical music in the groove metal realm.

The drumming here is still very good, but alas, not as technical. There’s still a fair amount of double-bass work and fills to keep you interested enough, but you can’t help but feel disappointed that there is nothing too technical about them. Still, he does what he can here and pulls it off flawlessly.

The guitar riffs are very groovy, definitely more so than their previous album. A lot of them blend into one another, but there are certain tracks where a riff or two will stand out, like on The Wanderer, Meth Mouth, and the beginning of Masks. The Wanderer is the most melodic, the longest, and the only clean-singing bearing song on the album. The guitar riffs definitely shine in this one, and it makes this particular song the best cut here.

Now, the biggest change here is the vocalist. It still surprises me, after all this time, that this is the EXACT same guy that sung on Hunter. He must’ve undergone throat reconstructive surgery because his vocals are just so different. Luckily for the listener, they are not bad…just as they were not bad on Hunter either, even though I prefer his voice on that album. Here, it feels like he ditched brutality in favour of clarity, as he is much more legible. He still growls well, though, so it is not something to lose sleep (or ear drums) over.

Even though this is a near 180-degree turn for A Life Once Lost, it is not such a bad groove metal album. It suffers from repetition and can become boring for the death metal purist, but for everyone else, you should probably give it a try. If you’re just starting with this band, though, I recommend Hunter much more.

Best tracks: The Wanderer, Meth Mouth

Well...this sucks. - 65%

GravesOfTheFathers, October 7th, 2007

The genre of southern rock-infused metal and metalcore has become more popular in recent years. Between The Buried and Me tend to have at least one southern rock-influenced part on each of their albums, Every Time I Die has been a pioneer of the style for seven years, and Lamb of God capitalized on Pantera's version of it with Sacrament. However, most of these bands went to shit when their members realized that you can only do so much with a few groovy riffs and blues solos combined with screaming and flashy guitar work. While ETID and LOG are gaining popularity because of their progression and willingness to experiment a bit, ALOL is doing the same thing they've been doing all along, albeit worse.

While their last effort, Hunter, retained a sort of charm because of its unapologetic Meshuggah and Pantera worshipping, Iron Gag is simply a mixture of ideas that don't work. The first track, Firewater Joyride, is something that could've been on Down's NOLA, minus the vocals. This track, unlike most on the record, is groovy, fun, and packs a punch. Bob's vocals are at a significantly lower register tha on Hunter, which unfortunately limits both their ability to cut through the mix and unique quality. Here, he just sounds like the mediocre lovechild of Phil Anselmo and Jens Kidman. Gone are Hunter's raspy, tormented screams. The vocal work here is messy, boring, and far too low in the mix.

Just when you thought the production from Hunter couldn't get any did. The mids of the guitars are WAY too fucking high, and although the solo tone is nice and pretty, the guitars dominate the mix far too much. Of course, given Bob's vocals, this might not be a bad thing. The bass drums are clicky as hell and far too quiet. Two thumbs way, way the fuck down.

As for the songwriting, here's the formula: decent (not mindblowing) riff 10X, boring chorus, more of the riff, solo, end. It sucks. Even Firewater Joyride and Ill Will, the best songs on the album, couldn't be saved from the crappy formula. Oh, and that reminds me: the riffs are lame as hell. Instead of the blues-tinged polyrhythmic chugging present on Hunter, we're left with a bare-bones copy of Pantera and Lamb of God. The solos are much, much better, but an overabundance of whammy bar and stupid Dragonforce-esque "noise" almost ruins them. Some of the riffs are far too rhythmically oriented for my taste, often bordering on nu-metal.

Pretty much every song except the first and last track are filler. If you're an ALOL fan, buy Firewater Joyride and Ill Will (if anything) from iTunes and skip the rest. Let's hope the band gets their shit together for their next release.