Philly’s A Life Once Lost has amassed quite a career for themselves since forming in 1999. Their sixth studio record, Ecstatic Trance, provides more of the same meat and potatoes metalcore that fans have come to expect – and little else.
It took until around 2005 for A Life Once Lost to really hit the circuit. They released Hunter and toured in support of it with the likes of As I Lay Dying and Lamb of God. Two years later, Iron Gag was the release and the band took to the road with bands like High on Fire, Job for a Cowboy and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Ecstatic Trance will mean another tour with some pretty high profile bands, but something about A Life Once Lost’s approach seems to paste them in the opening spot for all of bleary-eyed eternity. While theirs is an attack of sufficient crunch, there’s a habitual bent to everything that keeps the music free from any nuisances like impulse and true innovation.
Robert Meadows (vocals), Douglas Sabolick (guitar), Mike Sabolick (bass), and Jordan Crouse (drums) seem to be able enough musicians and their instrumentation is on-point if not on the rudimentary side. Meadows is an underwhelming vocalist, however, and his decisions don’t do much to set him apart from the herd. It’s hard to pick out a distinctive feature to his tone.
Ecstatic Trance begins with “Something Awful,” a paint-by-numbers number with chugging guitar and the trivial presence of a Hammond organ in the background. The instrument isn’t used in any inventive way and the band seems to think its appearance alone is enough to tilt the scales in their artistic favour.
“Madness is God” finds more unchanging guitars gulping along, while Meadows tries (momentarily) a deeper death growl. It doesn’t go anywhere, like the periodic Hammond that is presumably added “for colour.”
Throughout tracks like “Miracle Worker” and “The Blues,” A Life Once Lost does little to play with the mechanical metalcore that brought them to the dance. That may be to their advantage in some fashion, but it keeps Ecstatic Trance from being an interesting record.
In the end, there’s not a lot to talk about with respect to this album. It is one of many, many by-rote heavy recordings from 2012, another droplet in the sea of surly 18-35ers. For all their talent and Hammond love, A Life Once Lost fails to captivate with this misnamed Ecstatic Trance.