REVIEW: Left to Drown – Left to Drown [2017]

Artist: Left to Drown 

Album: Left to Drown 


You can barely open your eyes, the lids are so swollen—and where they aren’t swollen, they’re caked shut with dried blood. It takes every ounce of strength you can muster to drag your arm up, up and over, clawing with fatigue at the crud crusted in the corner of your eye—and finally, barely, you can open one just enough to get a glimpse of your surroundings.  

It’s dark—either cloudy or, no, more likely night—and you hear water. You do your best to close your other hand, feeling a handful of sand, damp and cool, clench up into a ball between your fingers. So it’s night, and you’re on a beach. Slowly it comes back to you—you fought for your life, bludgeoned to within an inch of existence, and got tossed overboard, like trash. With your final, fleeting ounces of lifeforce, you swam—winding up here. Beaten, bruised, broken and bloody; Left to Drown, but somehow alive.  

That is what finishing your first play through of the debut full-length by Vicious Vienna-based slamming beatdown entrepreneurs Left to Drown feels like. Over half an hour of remorseless, relentless assbeating leaves the listener like a rag doll, incontinent and incoherent—but loving every second of it.  

Much akin to Left to Drown’s peers within the heavy music world, the band faced a choice on their debut record. Surprise technicality? Progressive undertones? Atmosphere? How would they make their mark? Rather than any of these, Left to Drown opted the more obvious and aggressive route—to be as insanely heavy as they could. The entirety of the half-an-hour-plus experience is nothing short of pure obliteration. With percussion that oscillates between obscene speed and sludgy, sinister hammering, Left to Drown establish dominance in a primitive fashion. From the onset of “Bloodless,” through “Straight Outta Slamton” and “The Toolbox Murders,” toggling between terrifying speed and tremendous heaviness is the mission—one readily achieved. Combining skin-splitting, machine-gun blast beats against rapid-fire kick drum segments and thick, acrid bass, songs like “Cryogenic Slumber” readily establish the quartet’s slamming tendencies. Meanwhile, more diverse songs—especially “Where the Gallows Stand” bring in dark, Blackened ambiance as well as riff-driven intensity; leaving it up to the guitars to establish beatdown and black metal influence that keeps Left to Drown from becoming “just another slam band.” Throughout the release, jagged, heavy hardcore tinted riffs trade places with tremolo-picked slamming leads, working with the low and mammoth bass and steamrolling percussion both to make sure the listener is thoroughly oppressed by an entire Arsenal of aggressive music styles.  

With a solid, diverse and sinister musical backdrop established, Left to Drown now have to take those musical proclivities—the ones built around absurdity—and mirror them with a masterful vocal approach. Chances are, if you’ve been keeping a finger on the pulse of underground heavy music, you’ve heard of Niko Apostolakis, the voice of symphonic deathcore project Until We Die. Well, Apostolakis returns with Left to Drown—and while the project is plenty different from Until We Die, his talents remain the same. As diverse and deadly as ever, Apostolakis’ work with the slamming, beatdown-tinted deathcore stylings of Left to Drown is nothing short of jaw dropping. While “Bloodless” is a touch stiff and monotonous a start, by the time the listener has finished “Straight Outta Slamton,” there is no doubt of Apostolakis’ skill. Lyrically, your guess is as good as most—what he’s saying isn’t nearly as incredible as how he screams it, even if his lyrics were Pulitzer Prize winning material. In an era where the true “masters” of heavy music vocal work seem preordained, and new—albeit homogenous—talent emerges daily, Apostolakis sets himself apart. Diverse and devastating with his range and endurance, he truly makes Left to Drown stand apart, skyrocketing them into a higher echelon of eviscerating, energetic brutality.  

Left to Drown do what a lot of bands have tried in the last several months (and years): make a name for themselves on heaviness alone. Where the act are still young, this release being their first full-length effort, they are well on their way to succeeding. Just about thirty five minutes of terror, Left to Drown’s self-titled album is raunchy and bloody—a gruesome rampage through deathcore, slamming death metal, beatdown, black metal and heavy hardcore. With a varied instrumental dynamic and a juggernaut for a vocalist, the band are poised to rip the global heavy music community a new asshole—leaving any who oppose them cast asunder, left to drown.  



For Fans Of: Ingested, Acrania, Within Destruction, Falsifier 

By: Connor Welsh