REVIEW: The Last Ten Seconds of Life – No Name Graves [2024]

Artist: The Last Ten Seconds of Life
Album: No Name Graves

Not too many bands know what it’s like to have to reinvent yourself after releasing what many consider to be a genre (or at least style)-defining record. However, punishing Pennsylvanian deathcore quartet The Last Ten Seconds of Life have now had to do that twice in a career just a touch over a decade long—when realistically, most other bands might have just up and called it a day. I still remember where I was in 2014 when I first heard Soulless Hymns, streaming the review copy off of Haulix in the bathroom of my first fast-food job. Maybe not every fan of heavy music will have the exact same memory down to the detail, but there’s a good chance that no matter who you ask at your next hardcore, metalcore or deathcore show, they can still recite lyrics to “The Box” or “Pain is Pleasure” like a type of slam poet, totally impromptu—yet totally correct. There was something about that record that made it stand out—something that made it totally unique compared to so many other relentlessly heavy records coming out in the same era. In the years, albums and lineups that would follow, The Last Ten Seconds of Life would do everything from attempting to replicate that experience to pulling a radical 180 from it in an attempt to break free from the chokehold it had over their reputation—and while all of these records are great records there was something indomitable about Soulless Hymns.

Until No Name Graves.

You probably thought I was just going to keep yapping about a nine-year-old record now, huh? Surprise, nope—but it does bear referencing, because until this point, most people (myself included) have been taking every The Last Ten Seconds of Life release in the context of Soulless Hymns (or maybe Invivo[Exvivo], which also would not be wrong). No Name Graves is the debut full length from The Last Ten Seconds of Life in their current iteration, and in short, it completely dominates. With moments defined by a low, moody atmosphere carefully peppered with punishing aggression and moments that are outright raunchy, ruthless oblivion, No Name Graves is a cinematic, crushing experience that redefines The Last Ten Seconds of Life, making it clear that lightning can strike the same place (or same band) twice.

I have always maintained—especially in the 2013-2019 iterations of The Last Ten Seconds of Life—that the band’s guitar is the most consistent and unique weapon they bring to the table. The band’s 2022 full length and 2022 EP saw that trademark tone take a slight backseat only to come roaring back in 2024. No Name Graves sees guitarist and songwriter Wyatt McLaughlin (and his trusty low, crunchy tone) make a triumphant return to form. McLaughin is accompanied by Andrew Petway (of Bodybox fame, among others) on bass and Dylan Potts on drums—and the same fury that defined Disquisition on an Execution is in righteous abundance here. “Of All Humanity, the Sum” and “Feel My Fangs in You” are two incredible slabs of immolating, intense instrumentation, where bludgeoning breakdowns take turns with smoldering riffs to set the listener ablaze. Other songs, like the gloomy and simmering “Doomsday Death Trap” feel like a hearkening to The Last Ten Seconds of Life from ten years prior, combining towering chugs with drums that oscillate between a low, dense plod and lightning quickness. As the record builds, it only becomes more oppressive, climaxing on the album’s ultimate track, “Thirst for Extinction” that uses every arsenal in McLaughin et al’s arsenal to steamroll the listener beneath a ten-ton layer of metalcore and hardcore-infused deathcore fury. The drums throughout No Name Graves are polished and clean—the bass dense and explosive—and the guitar crunchy and riveting. This is an instrumental masterclass in the unique crossroads of genres that The Last Ten Seconds of Life have essentially made themselves the rulers of, with every element concentrate to a near-lethal dose.

It’s always hard to discuss The Last Ten Seconds of Life from a vocal element because the implied question with every release is along the lines of “alright, so, how does this dude sound compared to Storm?” And sure—Storm Strope was a large part in why (and how) The Last Ten Seconds of Life carved out such a solid niche for themselves, but even in his absence, the band has always been vocally solid. Their 2022 self-titled record saw them explore more singing and unique vocal patterns—something which was omitted from Tyler Beam’s first release with them some months later on the Disquisition on an Execution EP. Beam returns once more—and while the overt comparison to Strope’s surly, maniacal bellow certainly holds water, Beam’s ability to build on that style and expound with a stunning range of screeches and grisly gutturals demands praise in its own right. Beam shines throughout No Name Graves, and whether its the wordplay and intoxicating candor of “Feel My Fangs in You” or the somber atmos he lends to “Doomsday Death Trap,” the element he brings to the record takes the record from great into excellent. “Thirst for Extinction,” as well as “Broken Glass Incantation” see Beam’s anger and intensity dialed up even higher, with the former ending the album with a haunting, repeated phrase. Beam works alongside several immense guest vocalists as well on No Name Graves, soundly demonstrating his own skill and confidence, as even with those features on board, his moments on songs like “Letania Infernalis” and “Doomsday Death Trap” still shine as the defining ones throughout the release.

I spent more time than I meant to in this article discussing The Last Ten Seconds of Life’s past—and while I stand firm that you can pick any record in their discography and, out of the context of other releases, still come away with an excellent experience, it’s tough to be a band that made such a huge kerfuffle so early in their career. No Name Graves is the tombstone to that story—it is The Last Ten Seconds of Life once more dominating with lightning in their veins and fire at their fingertips, setting every note they play and word they write ablaze with indomitable vivacity. No Name Graves is The Last Ten Seconds of Life’s masterpiece—and with it being the debut full length from this collection of artists operating under the Last Ten name, it is truly anyone’s guess to see where they go from here.

For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, SPITE, Black Tongue
By: Connor Welsh