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Review: The Last Ten Seconds of Life – Soulless Hymns

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The four-piece beatdown group known as The Last Ten Seconds of Life released a really excellent album back in January of this year. This masterpiece of an album, “Soulless Hymns”, is available to purchase on iTunes and Amazon or you can stream it via Spotify and YouTube. In all honesty, this is definitely my favorite album of 2015; the songs slam, groove, and chug with plenty of nasty low vocals produced by Storm Strope. Well-formulated guitar riffs and dark drum patterns mix with the distinctive and demonic gutturals to form a chaotic beatdown sound that triumphs over anything else this year.
However, this album has a different vibe from their previous albums, primarily caused from vocal work. Strope has backed away from using his highs, which were commonplace in their other works. When I listen back on some tracks like “Pain is Pleasure ” and “Ballad of the Butcher”, I wish his vocal work would have expanded into those raw and gut-wrenching highs I admired on ” Invivo[Exvivo]” and “Know Your Exits”. In the end though, Strope is still crushing his lows and mids, where he gets the right amounts of clarity and brutality in every song written. He is also a great lyricist, which adds to the serious anger and frustration sound they developed in this album.

“As the World Turns Over” is a killer song that starts the mayhem with a catchy guitar riff and some sick drum lines supported by the deep bass guitar. Proceeding this song is the ominous and slamming “The Box”, which I particularly like for the lyrics and drums. The intro drum line, with the in-your-face bell hits adds a nice accent to the groovy and dark guitar lines. Some nicely timed and executed blast beats adds to the chaos later in the song as well. In terms of the lyrics, the lines ” a thinking man is never a slave” and “turn this world upside down, refuse to fall to your knees like the rest” are devastating and thought provoking. It’s almost inspiring in the sense that the band wants to think outside the box and create crazy music that is going to turn someone’s world upside down (which it certainly has mine as I wake up with these songs in my head).

“North of Corpus” gives us a sampling of the psychedelic style they infused into their songs. The shrieking guitar in the introduction and the lyrics are primarily responsible for this. I mean, I’m just not sure what to make of “Shadows form into hands, and dance like scissors across the top of the van. Intoxicated by the fever that builds and the hospital pill, I am free of this world”, but I presume it has something to do with death. A theory I have is that the song is about a bad drug trip in their van north of Corpus Christi, Texas (north of corpus, 5 inches from the sun, hallucinations quicken, I am free of this world, the hospital pill, as the van slithers across the sand,etc.). Could be a dumb theory, but the song is heavy, slowed down and beaten otherwise. Definitely an amazing track with what feels like a time signature changes, which almost gives a feeling of hesitation; being suspended in silence when you should not be is powerful and heavy. This track is one of my favorites without a doubt.

“Meant to be Free” really hits hard with a devastating breakdown, easily one of the best on the album. The fearful and angry lyrics “relive the moment, stuck in the Omen, save your excuses, run” are prime and match the terrifying rhythmic sound laid down by the rest of the group. Following is “Guillotine Queen”, a slow yet furious song that utilizes a chromatic guitar chug that is pissed off and fearless.

“Pain is Pleasure” turned out to be a surprisingly popular song. It had a brief run on Liquid Metal’s “Devil’s Dozen” at around the 10th spot. It became the namesake of their upcoming tour with Barrier, Left Behind, and Circuit of Suns as well. The songs is pretty solid and I can see why it became so popular as it is very, very catchy. It’s a little more upbeat than the other tracks and some of that psychedelic style is seen again (when Storm is screaming “king and queen, suffocated screams” to be specific). The ending is my favorite with the build up from a symphonic bridge into a nice drum blast beat and a broken down riff with the distinctive/strange guitar melody in the background.

“Ballad of the Butcher” is another excellent song with a terrifying chorus, promising that John the Butcher is coming to murder you. The breakdown “I am John the Butcher, this is goodbye” is crushing and fitting for the murderous vibe in this song. Then, “Sacrifice (The Prince)” comes out of nowhere with an immediate onslaught of brutal riffing, driving drums, and harsh vocals leading into some experimental sounds not commonplace in the others. Drum stick hits on the rims adds texture before an intense drop, and a bluesy guitar slide is featured at the end of the track. “Changing Forms” is a real treat for those obsessed with dark, slow, relentless beatdown. The introduction gives goosebumps from the clarity of the screams and the oddly-formed rhythms on the guitar. Every riff chugs and slams, with astonishingly low and psychotic vocals, finished off with some melodic guitar work in the chorus. Once again, an excellent song.

“Heavy Headed” is a completely radical change from anything else on this album. It’s soft, bluesy, and a little bit experimental. Storm still lays down screams, but they’re dampered and put in the background of the beautifully written guitar and bass melodies. It’s very raw and powerful how Storm describes the mind of an alcoholic, chasing away friends/family, feeling closer to God even though he’s advocating the life of a Devil when drinking, and the hollowness of his soul. The song is very reminiscent of a modern day “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath. Definitely not something to skip over.

The album is then closed strong with the very strange, heavy, and surreal “Junkie” and “The Dream is Dead”. This final song is an anthem of an ending, featuring that lovely concoction of lethargic tempo, deep screams, well-formulated guitars, dark bass, and intriguing drum sounds that relentlessly beats down and slams. Once again, the lyrical content is intense: ” the dream is dead, they put it out back and put a fucking bullet in its head” is pure hate, pessimism, and hopelessness that makes it that much more fun to scream with the band. It’s a beast of a song for sure.

“Soulless Hymns” is a high quality album to say the least. Every song is written, produced, and performed perfectly. All of the musicians are at the top of their games right now, and the music is definitive proof. If you’re a skeptic, look into the songs “North of Corpus”, “The Dream is Dead”, and “The Box” to witness how serious the music is. I’m still waiting on an album to top it this year, and even with other astoundingly great releases so far, nothing compares to this. Find a copy, download it, stream it, do whatever you do; just make sure your volume is cranked and that you’re in a clear area ideal for moshing. Embrace the perfect beatdown sound The Last Ten Seconds of Life has portrayed with this album.

Rate: 9.5/10

 

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