REVIEW: Currents – Life//Lost [2015]


Artist: Currents

Album: Life//Lost


It happens in an instant—waves crash, tides roll and water crashes into your vessel like a freight train, plowing through plies of bare wood and brittle bone. You begin to take on water, sinking below, bloated with the ocean’s deadly weight. Hands grasping, lungs shuddering violently, you beg for air, or for a helping hand—for any source of salvation to lift you up and out of this aquatic hell and into someplace dry and safe. There is no answer. There is nothing that can save you from the ferocity Currents bring to your doorstep—as their debut full-length album is a crushing and lethal offering that smashes down upon the listener’s skull like a tidal wave, yet fills their lungs with heart-rending emotion that leaves them breathless. In an era where many bands and their releases come and go with the tide, Currents’ debut album is one that will stand strong and laugh in the face of time’s ebb and flow.

Life//Lost is the perfect instrumental equivalent to any of the world’s great oceans—vast, deep and marvelous. Every second of Currents’ meticulous musicianship is carefully crafted and layered to flood the listener’s senses with either intense energy or overwhelming emotion. Tracks like the album’s opener, “Anxiety,” showcase the former especially well—as percussionist Jeff Brown pounds away, driving riff after riff into the listener’s head like a sledgehammer smacking a railroad pin—as Chris Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi’s riffs and grooves are as sharp and metallic as they are thick and heavy. Brown’s percussion remains a remarkable driving force for all of Life//Lost—as he provides the same punchy-yet-fun percussion that the listener fell in love with on the band’s debut EP, Victimized. Brown batters away with looming, resonant toms and a crisp, cannon-like kick drum that serves as the figurative rock bottom to Currents’ churning sea of instrumental intensity. However, if Brown’s drumming is the ocean floor, then Dee Cronkite’s crunchy basswork is the silt, sand and seaweed that covers it. Twisting and constricting the listener’s legs, winding around their spine and invading their ears, Cronkite’s bass work is insidious, managing to be both unfathomably low and uncharacteristically snappy and technical at the same time. “Stillborn” displays this especially well, as does “Derelict,” where Brown and Cronkite establish a wonderfully low and writhing dynamic in which Cronkite’s flattening bass feeds off of the energy shed by Brown’s boisterous percussion.

As the listener reaches the surface of Currents’ debut full-length, however, things don’t get lighter and calmer. Rather, Castaldi and Wiseman churn and crush the listener with simply magnificent musicianship. Neither dull nor djenty, Castaldi and Wiseman let loose with a technically savvy display of immense metalcore aggression that ranges from lacerating riffs (look no further than the introduction to “Rose” or “Sleep Paralysis”) to slamming, bone-busting breakdowns (expertly displayed in the climax to “Anxiety” or “Stillborn”). However, even amid the agonizing turmoil that defines the raunchy energy Life//Lost is composed of, there are still moments of placidity and peace—like the album’s riveting title track, or sparse moments throughout “Euphoria” and “Rose.” Even when Castaldi and Wiseman aren’t ripping holes in the listener’s head with eviscerating grooves and punishing breakdowns, the duo is still a dynamic display of technicality and immersive songwriting. The listener could get lost trying to trace the looping, immense yarns of furiously fretted brilliance these two craft, as their fingers are nothing but a figurative wellspring of instrumental creativity and compassion. Currents’ debut album is a musically diverse and entrancing experience that tackles many different styles of heavy music but manages to conquer them masterfully.

Even the raunchiest ocean is subject to tides—fits and spurts of sporadic crush and calm that subject the most restless bodies of water to nature’s unbending will. To this end, vocalist Patrizio Arpaia is the Neptune to Currents’ figurative sea; as his vocal dominance and dynamic brilliance take a unique instrumental experience and make it truly one-of-a-kind. Arpaia’s vocals are an onslaught—from the relentless and throat-shredding delivery of every line throughout “Anxiety,” to the stunningly emotional display on “Life//Lost”—he never lets up, constantly flowing and flooding into the listener’s head upon the waves of the band’s brilliant instrumentation. Where Currents are bold—on “Stillborn” or “Anxiety” where Brown batters the listener into submission as Wiseman and Capaldi chug and churn away with blatant disregard for the listener’s sanity—Arpaia is simply a beast; letting loose with shrill screams, gruff growls and bitter barks. Even when Currents’ instrumentation is calm and collected (relatively, at least), Arpaia’s vocals are strung-out and sanity-deprived shouts—adding a new facet to Currents’ dynamic since their urgent and energetic EP, Victimized. “Life//Lost” is unlike anything the band has brought the listener to date—and if it doesn’t have your breath shortened, knees weak and fingers shaking by the end, then either you weren’t paying attention, or you were raised by wolves. “Life//Lost” is an emotional expose that sees Arpaia truly connecting to the listener and giving the album a sense of concept and direction—rather than a collection of crushing and badass tracks, Life//Lost becomes an experience; a journey as rugged as sailing around the world.

Dragged below, Currents have made you their latest victim. Caught off guard by jarring, dynamic riffs, pummeling percussion and raunchy bass only to be rendered unconscious by blunt-force heaviness and waterlogged with emotional density and instrumental complexity, Life//Lost has struck, condemning you to a watery grave at the hands of progressive metalcore’s prodigal talents.



For Fans Of: Northlane, Meshuggah, After the Burial, Structures

By: Connor Welsh