Sound — 7
Hailing from Philadelphia, Nicholas Frasca (bass and vocals), Justin Graves (drums) and Robert Meadows (vocals) formed A Life Once Lost in 1999. After Douglas Sabolick (guitar) and Robert Carpenter (guitar and keyboards) completed the line-up, the band took it serous in 2001. A Life Once Lost was very active in the local hardcore-metal scene and released a number of unfortunate records on different labels, gaining experience meanwhile. Finally the guys got some veritable strong metal sound to grab attention of Ferret Records. Their debut break-though album "Hunter," out 2005, is 11 spooky tracks with sludge melodies. Even though the band claims to go for the originality in music, the influence of Lamb Of God and Meshuggah is obvious -- dark metallic grooves the band creates on "Hunter" would ecstasize the fans of metal monsters. A Live Once Lost have made a great step forward since their last record "A Great Artist." This time around the musicians show more experience and variety in the play. Drummer with a haunting name -- Justin Graves -- tears down on you tons of double-bass and paced-down rhythms just to create a background for stellar guitar work. The guitar work here is something to be proud of -- solid and colorful, the guitars work very closely together to create a very powerful brutal sound to shake your subs. "Hunter" surprises you at a great number of cool metal guitar riffs, very technical and textured. Wisely put in the middle 'ballad' "Hunter" divides the album into two parts and gives you a little break from the intense of the tracks. "Salai" has a very long -- almost one and a half minutes -- intro with spacey mysterious keyboards.
Lyrics — 7
Robert Meadows' vocals are not very diverse -- standard screamo in the best traditions of metal -- growlingly aggressive, with hardly distinguishable lyrics. Sometimes he tries so hard that it seems like he's spitted the microphone all over. "The whole idea behind 'Hunter' is about going out and taking what it is that you want... It's just about saying 'f--k you' and doing what you want to do" -- says Meadows. Thanx God we're not to hear complains about Earth pollution and politics. Here's a guide to all negative emotions you might need, including the dissatisfaction with the life you live. "Salai," that doesn't have a single world in it, has a quote by Leonardo Da Vinci in the CD booklet "If you are alone, you will be your own man."
Overall Impression — 6
The production of "Hunter" is pretty weak as the songs don't get your attention unless you push yourself and listen in. Most tracks go nowhere; sometimes it seems that the band forgot to end the song and the sound engineer just cut it after another guitar passage. Even though the tracks are stuffed with changes and the song structures are unpredictable, overall the tracks sound monotonously similar. Sometimes you get lost in the tracks as they often run together (apart from really differentiable "Salai" and "Hunter" everything else sounds pretty much the same). The album doesn't have an annoying attitude, it is not gimmicky or annoying, it just lacks of variety. I appreciate the way guys created the whole album -- the CD art is actually something not very disgusting and it even has some very interesting drawings. "Hunter" may be a substitute for Meshuggah fans who've been dieing for some new metal record over the last years, though it can easily be lost among other "offers."