Sound: A band's second album is an important one. It's the point where bands start to show signs of either a long, healthy future, or where they fail to live up to their debut. Lancaster headbangers This or the Apocalypse kept that in mind for "Haunt What's Left", their second album after the well-received "Monuments" released back in '08, and trust me, this is anything but a sophomore slump.
The album blasts out of your speakers right away with "Charmer". The fantastic production (brought to you by Josh Wilbur and Lamb of God's Chris Adler) and the song's many twists and turns set the pace for what you can expect over the next 45 minutes.
Next up is "Subverse". The song starts with quiet acoustic guitars before slamming into quite possibly the best breakdown on the album. Gang vocals fill the chorus (which feature drummer Matt Greiner of fellow Lancaster quintet August Burns Red) before winding down. It's an epic, and definitely one of the best cuts on the album.
The listener is barely given a chance to breathe before "The Incoherent", an unforgiving song chock full of angular riffs and fantastic vocals from Ricky Armellino. After the fairly melodic "Lamnidae" (in which, for some strange reason, the first 2 seconds of the song reminded this reviewer of Dragonforce), the band launch back into "Hellish". The lead floats over haunting chords, before a sinister breakdown makes this the most destructive song on the album.
The album continues in this pattern during its second half, full of harsh vocals, frenzied guitars from Rodney Fields and Jack Esbanshade, and plenty of pulverized skins from Grant McFarland. Late album highlight Deadringer has just the right amount of melody and brutality, as well as an incredibly catchy chorus. The album closes with Revenant, and it's astounding when you realise that these guys are only releasing their second album; it's an aural ambush. // 9
Lyrics: The album features a great mix of screaming and singing. While the lyrics themselves may not break any new ground, vocalist Ricky Armellino has quite the voice. Switching between his intense clean vocals and his distinctive yelp, he perfectly matches the brutality of the album. In songs like Subverse, the chorus of I'm putting up the fight of my life is simply epic. In The Incoherent he adopts a gruff vocal style perfect for the intensity of the song. With his vocal acrobatics throughout the album, Armellino shines on Haunt What's Left. // 8
Overall Impression: With Haunt What's Left, This or the Apocalypse have released a great record, grasping both melody and heaviness almost flawlessly. Even more impressive when you think that these guys are only on album number two. As I'm sure a considerable number of fans will have heard of this band through August Burns Red, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. Sure, some songs don't really bring anything new to the table, but the album is definitely a success. With this album, This or the Apocalypse should have secured a promising future in the competitive metal scene. Well done, guys. // 9