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A Life Once Lost – Ecstatic Trance

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.
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Bison B.C. – Lovelessness

While the main complaints listeners opine when discussing an album usually revolve around discrepancies in songwriting, vocal style and/or production quality, some bands perform so strongly in one or two of these departments that their weaknesses can be forgiven. A personal example: Rorschach’s superb powerviolence/metallic hardcore makes up for some fairly horrendous vocals. Unfortunately for Bison BC, their newest release Lovelessness doesn’t allow the listener this option of tolerance due to a severe lacking in all three of these categories.
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The Secret – Agnus Dei

There is a certain perverse irony behind the title of The Secret’s fourth album, Agnus Dei. The Italian metallic hardcore outfit’s latest offering bears the title of the peaceful Christian symbol of a holy lamb, yet presents itself as a wolf amongst the flock devouring the innocent beasts. While initially an intriguing and entertaining endeavor, repeated listens quickly reveal that this analogy would be more appropriately adjusted to describe Agnus Dei as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. For while The Secret provide a solid performance of the recent trend of sludgy, grind influenced hardcore, this lycan ferocity is padded down by certain wooly missteps.