Artist: Left Behind
Album: Death, Take Me (EP)
While it’s generally the best policy, honesty is rarely kind. In fact, more often than not, an equally oft-quoted idiom holds true—truth hurts—especially when it comes at you straight with nothing to make it more palatable. No sugar coating. No chaser. Just a bitter, poisonous lump that scalds your tongue and sears your throat the whole way down. When it comes to the bitter truth, few bands do it better than West Virginia’s resident wang dangers, Left Behind. With their debut EP, Death, Take Me, Left Behind unleash a bitter, honest critique of the world (and everyone in it they despise) in the form of scalding, relentless anger and sincere, ruthless aggression. From beginning to end, Death, Take Me preaches hard-to-swallow reality in the form of pummeling, intense hardcore mixed with dark, gloomy down-tempo—all topped off by a gruff, unique vocal assault—making Left Behind bearers of the truth that every fan of heavy music needs to hear.
In order to truly understand Left Behind, the listener first needs to grasp their unique musical style—one which they’ve come to call “wang dang.” No matter how comical it sounds, and how much fun it is to say, make no mistake, there is nothing funny about it. Death, Take Me shows off this quirkily-named amalgamation of heavy music by kicking in the listener’s two front teeth with the jarring opening section of “Liar,” a track which uses pummeling drums and catchy, acidic riffs to crack at the listener’s skull and melt away their sanity. “Destrage” does this equally well—mixing stylishly antiquated thrashy, beatdown hardcore elements with updated metalcore dynamics to craft a musical environment akin to the tornado that swept Dorothy into Oz. Each track Left Behind bring to Death, Take Me is unique in this way. Whether it’s subtle touches of technicality in “Out Of Line”’s drumming, or “Haunted” and its mesmerizingly catchy, nu-metallic fretwork, there is something intangible about the combination of metalcore, hardcore, nu metal and thrash which Left Behind have mastered that can only be described as—well—wang dang.
A second stark quality which assaults the listener from the very beginning of Death, Take Me is—and it isn’t very often that this happens with –core genres—the bass guitar. Persistently prevalent and punctually popping during the entire duration of the EP, the bass work Left Behind display is something which deserves special attention. Throughout the entire release, the bass guitar adds a beefy, meaty heaviness to every riff and chug which causes the listener’s eardrums to tremble and quake—but it doesn’t end there. When the bass guitar isn’t steamrolling a perfect foundation for punctual percussion and groove-laden shred, it’s adding a bouncy, almost dancy quality to Left Behind’s music which allows even the simplest riffs to wind their way inside the listener’s head and stay stuck there—until ousted by the next barbed barrage of immersive instrumentation. It is by crafting immersive, catchy and heavy music with just the right amount of technicality and groove that Left Behind have crafted the perfect canvas and brushed the perfect backdrop for the vocals to spit white-hot, flesh-melting honesty across.
Lyrically, Left Behind tell it like it is. “Liar” is a relentless assault on—well, everything—while “Haunted” and “No Forgiveness” are more specific and refined in their misanthropic manic-depressive malcontent. However, whether precise or broad—persistent or variable—the vocals that convey perfectly written bombs of bitters can only be described as gruff. They constantly attack the listener with a half-yelled, half-screamed shout which rarely wanders into a high-pitched screech or a low, rumbling growl that simply leaves the listener in shambles. “Haunted” makes the most varied use of harsh vocals, featuring a refrain which showcases a higher, gritty scream—while “No Forgiveness” features a crooned, soft singing that, rather than sound out-of-place, fits the eerie atmosphere of the song perfectly. The short-and-sweet version of it is this: Death, Take Me is home to just enough vocal monotony to provide a baseline for the listener to be completely caught off guard when ambushed by a high scream, low growl, or smooth croon.
It’s never easy to be the target of honesty’s indiscriminate attacks, its savage sincerity or its lachrymating languish—but it often has to be done, if only to humble and dissuade the victim. Likewise, Left Behind lash out at their peers and the world around them with Death, Take Me, a savage and honest mastery of metallic, brooding hardcore which assures that in the sea of nameless, faceless look-a-like –core bands, Left Behind definitely won’t be Left Behind.
For Fans Of: Sworn In, Kingmaker, Gift Giver, Barrier
By: Connor Welsh