Artist: Left Behind
Album: No One Goes To Heaven
What happens when you die? I mean, that’s the question, right? Does it depend on what kind of life you lived? Does it depend upon which book you chose to place your faith? Or maybe, does nothing happen? Do we just rot, stagnant, and our spirit is left to sit, staggering and crippled beneath the weight of the lives once lived? Does it all add up at all? If your soul had a spine, would it shrink under the accumulation of your wrongdoings or sins? I don’t know—I don’t care to know, and it’s way too philosophical or existential for an album review—but if it all did add up, no matter what wrongs you did, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as oppressively heavy as Left Behind’s 2019 full-length record, No One Goes to Heaven. Crushing—but not in any conventional way—No One Goes to Heaven is kind of like a dirty south stoner rock record drunk and on steroids. Nearly one whole hour of grungy, gritty riffs, filthy bass and loud, raunchy drums serve as the soundscape for this maelstrom of dense, devastating metalcore-with-an-attitude, living up to Left Behind’s reputation as one of the most unique bands in the underground heavy music circuit today.
Genre classifications are a fun game to play with some bands—especially ones like Left Behind. For a lot of metalcore acts its easy—they’re metalcore. Done. The most involved it gets is fighting back the droves of people arguing whether its HaRdCoRe or MeTaLcOrE (its almost always metalcore). In Left Behind’s case, it gets a little bit tricky. They’re along the lines of a blackened, doom-laden, southern-dusted rock’n’roll riff-core type amalgamation that makes, somehow, perfect sense, despite the off-the-wall genre blendings. The backbone is one of bold, thick metalcore, much in keeping with the Seeing Hell and Blessed by the Burn offerings the band put forth in years past. However, where No One Goes to Heaven differs is the robust addition of deliberate doom and riff-heavy southern rock influence. Take, for example, the lead single, “Peeling Wax.” Until the closing segments, the track really lacks a true “breakdown” but makes up for it in dense, dreary atmosphere. Other songs, like “Eternity of Empty” or “What Makes You Hurt” are very similar. Then, the pendulum swings oppositely—“Hell Rains From Above” is a raunchy, go-for-the-throat anthem that wields riffs and conventional heaviness side-by-side, built up by a bastion of explosive, energetic percussion. No One Goes to Heaven employs a very gloomy, gritty feel throughout its entirety that permeates even the most energetic cuts on the record. It isn’t new to them, per se, but the ungodly combination of southern, thrashy aggression, bitter despair and bombastic salvos of instrumental heaviness definitely are, and make Left Behind’s rough, ruthless demeanor very, very easy to get hooked on.
Vocally, No One Goes to Heaven is just as abrasive as its instrumentation might convey. Where Blessed by the Burn was a crude mashup of raw, pissed off aggression and emotional introspection, Left Behind’s newest effort is pure doom’n’gloom. Brooding and bitter from start to finish, No One Goes to Heaven sees very little actual technical range from the band’s frontman Zachary Hatfield, it sees a massive array of lyrical content and vocal dynamism to complement the various instrumental styles of the record itself. “What Makes You Hurt” is an excellent example, as is the barn-burner “Shadow of Fear” and “Throwing Stones.” Hatfield is nothing short of immense on this record, and he doesn’t need to be a technically impressive vocalist to make it work. He expertly conveys sorrow, grief, hatred and so much more throughout the record’s near-hour runtime, giving it more than enough content to keep the listener engaged.
No One Goes to Heaven is a crushing release in unconventional ways. With enough aggression to bewilder the listener into a blind rage and enough mellow, moody insets to hypnotize the listener into a dreary trance, Left Behind continue to evolve on their doomy, gritty, raw breed of metalcore in a manner that makes it totally unique from the efforts of their peers.
For Fans Of: Knocked Loose, Gatecreeper, Varials, I AM, Kublai Khan
By: Connor Welsh