Sound — 10
This is the first review of a CD where I included a link to live footage of the band. So, obviously, the live component of this band, most notably its energy, is paramount to the understanding of this album. This brand of sheer, unfiltered, pure energy is easy to see in this album. To put it plainly, you'd better be in the right mood in order to listen to this album because at many points, the energy can be overwhelming, especially the screams.
Yes, I did just say that this album has too much energy.
Take that however you want because it can translate to many different effects depending on the listener and his/her mood. The screams are everywhere and they sometimes mask the superb instrumentation and lyrics, which are hardly intelligible, though this can just serve to add to the overall effect of the vocals to begin with. This effect, of course, is just energy. This energy is not AC/DC fast-heartbeat energy but more of a run around randomly, almost like a mosh pit, energy.
Once I got past this onslaught of energy, I found the experimental experimentation present on the album. Granted that the experimentation isn't the most extreme in the world, it is still interesting to see within the post-hardcore genre. As experimental albums usually are, this album is incredibly varied across the different songs though the vocal delivery is the same for the most part. From the beats of the intro and outro of "The Dope Beat" to the drumming present 0:55 seconds into "That Fear Fever," this album is brimming with creativity that can satisfy those of us who can't accept the energy as the be-all-end-all of the album. This level of creativity and variety in material is on a level I have never heard before from a band that is distinctly post-hardcore. They even managed to slip in a blues riff at the beginning of "27 Club" and a children's choir in the middle of "Pheromone Cvlt."
While there are no guitar solos, maybe one, the guitars still play very interesting parts that I couldn't fully grasp from the cursory listen I have so far given this album. If there's one thing that's for sure is that, like everything else on the album, they are geared towards energy and a live experience, thereby demanding that layering is off the table. While I'm sure it's there, it isn't important enough as to make the songs unplayable by two guitarists on stage.
I can hardly tell what the drums are doing in the obscurity that is caused by the power of everything around them, just going to show that it is hard to pay attention when listening to this album. The reason is that you're moving too much to care. Of course, it could also be due to the crude production quality of the album that doesn't really subtract to the album because it lends itself to the idea of unadulterated energy. In any event, when the drums are left with a relatively blank canvas to work with, they shine.
Honestly, there is so much good material on here that anyone who can stand post-hardcore to begin with should find something to his or her liking. In other words, if you like it loud, then this is the party to join.
Letlive. is a quartet from Los Angeles that specializes in post-hardcore. And these guys truly are hardcore, with a live show on a level rivaling or exceeding that of The Dillinger Escape Plan.
For clips, I recommend this:
Lyrics — 7
For many, the vocals will be the draw of this album. For me, they weren't. While I understand that Jason Butler's propensity for screams helps the energy of the album, there is only so much worth sacrificing for the sake of energy. With his screams, he silences (oxymoron) his lyrics, which I believe to be insightful and unique.
For example, "27 Club":
"And once you're gone, they'll realize death is the only way
To die for your cause is the most effective way to propagate
Make me a martyr make sure the books they read my name
A gun to my head, a hair trigger with the worst of aim
Flirting with death, but I'm married to my selfish ways
See, I'd die for something, but then I wouldn't get to see the fame
To be a martyr you mustn't die a death in vain
I'd kill myself, but suicide is so clich
Heavenly father, does heaven have a place for me
or will I get there only to learn St. Peter has misplaced the key?
Right down the middle polarity right down the middle
That's where we'll meet them all."
"We kiss with tongue and cheek and burn the witches in our beds
Wrap vacant stakes in sheets, accuse monogamy instead
I tried to catch the beat and do the dance of marionette
Can't groove to my heartbeat since rhythm stops when you are dead."
"We've got millions of broken necks from looking up at you
So get your damn soapbox standing, high horse prancing ass down here with the truth
So don't let those admirers try and fit your shoes
Because they will then see one size fits all feet and then they will walk all over you
When only to good die young
Ain't it ironic I age so well [x2]"
Aside from the screams, Butler manages to incorporate rap with typical hardcore vocals and many different chorus melodies to boot. Honestly, a great showing by Butler, but the screams didn't pan out well with me.
Overall Impression — 9
Despite all of the compliments I and many other reviewers have given to this album, it still didn't strike the ultimate chord with me. Despite all of the compliments, I think I may stop listening to this in a couple of days. While it's classic in description, something just doesn't scream classic as the classics do.
"Back in Black," "Moving Pictures," "Led Zeppelin IV," "...And Justice for All."
Each of these classic albums just has some feel, some element that I can't find in this album, and therefore, I can't give it as high a rating.
However, considering everything I said about this album, I'll let the crowd decide.
But please, can someone start running around in circles with me?
And of course, Jason Butler.