Artist: Left to Vanish
There isn’t a good way to sugarcoat this: It’s been a long damn time since we’ve heard a new cohesive collection of tracks from mid-2000s heavyweights Left to Vanish. However, in keeping with 2017’s overarching theme of immense comebacks and breakout albums alike, it seems like this Philadelphia-based punishers just couldn’t quite vanish from a sound and style they contributed so much to during the latter portion of its formative years. This resurgence brings us Dethroned, the band’s first studio record in a decade and a resounding testament to their prowess and talent as the pioneers that many (myself included) considered them to be in 2007—and to the juggernauts of dark, dismal and dauntingly brutal music that they are in the waning weeks of 2017. Dethroned sees the band use everything from brooding, bitter atmosphere to straightforward, sinister and spine-snapping aggression that goes for throat and doesn’t stop until the listener’s trachea is reduced to confetti. Blending eviscerating breakdowns, punchy percussion and brilliant fretwork all into a mixing pot cast by elegant song structure and intensity that only practice, experience and time can hone, Dethroned proves that—in spite of their name—Left to Vanish are about to do anything but.
Left to Vanish waste little time in making their traditional deathcore and death metal roots show on Dethroned, which takes elements from both and blends them into a crushing amalgam of unstoppable aggression—all polished off with a penchant for contemporary production and punch. Led by riffs and grooves that cut back and forth across the listener’s skin, into deep trenches of terrifying brutality, all atop a foundation of fevered drumming and fulminant, fatally heavy bass, Dethroned is a monster, nothing more and certainly nothing less. Percussionist Paul Meredith is a true force to be reckoned with, attacking the listener with technically prominent, punishing displays of prowess from the very onset of “Brass Crown.” Throughout each of the seven tracks of Dethroned—with “As He Is” and “Warm Dark Moan” serving as highlights—Meredith’s work behind the kit is tireless, giving each song Left to Vanish craft an immense foundation to build from. And build they do, as the rollicking, ruthless grooves from bassist Bryan Little weave the riffs from Sean Salm together with Meredith’s percussion to create cohesive songs that flow beautifully and are written just as well. Including moments of bouncy, crunchy heaviness (“Warm Dark Moan” has a climactic breakdown that is straight-outta-08 in the best way) and scintillating, grim-but-sexy atmospheric tones (“Brass Crown,” “Who Will Endure”) aplenty. Little’s bass works to add heft and grit to Salm’s guitar, adding a visceral intensity to the band’s instrumentation that plays the carnal, deep-cutting grooves and leads up a notch. While songs like “Who Will Endure” are anthemic examples of both absurd speed and bleak, despair-laden undertones, “Weighted to the Bottom of the Ocean” is somber to the very essence of its being, and “Warm Dark Moan” is just the antithesis. The point is a simple one; many styles come together to make Dethroned a diverse and engaging experience for fans of just about anything aggressive.
The immense soundscapes and styles painted by the artists that define Left to Vanish and their excellent musicianship are all tied together by the incredible, energetic—and dare I say legendary—vocals of Bob Meadows. Formerly of A Life Once Lost, Meadows brings his rough, gritty and ferocious voice to Dethroned, and does it all the justice one can fathom or desire. Songs like “Warm Dark Moan” see Meadows at his catchiest (especially during the climactic breakdown), while others—maybe “Who Will Endure”–see his more diverse side show, capturing a variety of tones and emotions all in one immense, dark and dismal track. Meadows’ range is on par with the band just as it is on par with his own reputation, and his endurance doesn’t falter either; Meadows brings heft and aggression by the boatload to nearly every track, never missing a step or beat, hammering the listener over and over with harsh syllables and unfiltered ruthlessness. There isn’t truly a single song that sees Meadows’ work above the others; his efforts throughout Dethroned are consistently excellent, delivering hit after it—but for a quick fix or a satisfying display of power, “Warm Dark Moan” is certainly a good place to start.
Left to Vanish are back, and dare I say, better than ever. Yes, I mean even considering the nostalgia, and all the influence their previous efforts have had. It’s been a long time waiting—and an even longer time worrying we’d never get another release from the band at all—but it has certainly paid off with Dethroned, a release that sees Left to Vanish at their most primal and eviscerating, yet also at their most intelligent, gloomy and somber. Capturing the entire heart and soul across the far ends of the heavy music spectrum, Left to Vanish are far from vanished, and with this release, dethroned seems to be just as remarkable a misnomer.
For Fans Of: A Life Once Lost, Existence, The Acacia Strain, Oceano
By: Connor Welsh