A Life Once Lost

Ecstatic Trance

01. Something Awful
02. Gnawing Lisp
03. Madness is God
04. Miracle Worker
05. Empty Form
06. I Am
07. The Blues
08. People Stare
09. I See, I Hear
10. I Sit Ill

[10/23/12]
[Season Of Mist Records]

The most crucial element of composing noteworthy groove-centric metal is understanding the necessity of variety. Whether it’s Sepultura infusing Brazilian tribal music into each track or Pantera pacing out trashy groove assaults with opuses like ‘Cemetery Gates,’ those that wish to thrive in the genre must compose music that transcends mere mosh fodder. Enter A Life Once Lost, a Pennsylvania outfit returning from five years of studio silence with their latest effort, Ecstatic Trance, an album which fine tunes everything the band has accomplished on past releases to create an impressive result. ALOL’s previous affinity for redundant Lamb of God worship has evolved into djentless Meshuggah grooves infused with haunting melodies of the spiritual and Arabian variety.

Standout track ‘Madness is God’ is by far the best exemplification of this new formula. Opening with a riff reminiscent of any Max Cavalera project, the main guitar lead immediately owns the song with an emotion drenched hook caustic to the mind and soul. Back to back bangers ‘People Stare’ and ‘I See, I Hear’ provide additional high points on the album, with the former emphasizing a solid bouncy riff and the latter boasting some dark, sludgy guitar and drum syncopation.

Quite frankly, the album could use much more of this percussive variety. While the extremely minimalistic drumming does not necessarily detract from the album, the typical kick-snare pattern providing the backbone for most of these songs feels like a missed opportunity to add some artistic flair. The guitar grooves also experience difficulty with austereness, as they find themselves delicately balancing between captivation and monotony. While the central riff of most songs act as a respectable aspect of the music, others fade into the background and allow the trippy soundscapes to dominate the track. This is acceptable on tracks with strong melodic ideas but somewhat disappointing on tracks where the guitar leads explore shoddy territory, an occurrence which is thankfully quite rare. Album openers ‘Something Awful’ and ‘Gnawing Lisp‘ are perhaps the guiltiest of this and do little to initially attract the listener to the album.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much room for these mediocre moments to be spread out on the album due to its skimpy play time. The probable attempt to remain concise and interesting left the average tracks to appear as much more severe blemishes than they truly are. Of course, it could very well be that a lengthier album may have grown tiresome midway through. Eh, c’est la vie, no?

Regardless, each individual track on Ecstatic Trance is, at very worst, average. The album holds no awful songs and provides numerous moments of satiating groove bliss. Metal fans of the groovy persuasion who found themselves unfazed by Koloss or Resolution may want to consider this newest offering from ALOL as there groove pick for 2012. The amount of progression and refinement these Philly natives achieved on Ecstatic Trance is a commendable achievement deserving of a courtesy spin at the very least. It may not be a pinnacle achievement in the genre, but it has enough enjoyable material to satisfy those wishing to sit down and digest as well as those aching to throw down and mosh.

 A Life Once Lost – Ecstatic Trance gets…

3.5/5

- SM