Review: Left Behind Will Leave You Seeing Hell, for Better or Worse
Left Behind are an interesting band with a sound that is somewhat difficult to describe. On one hand, they’re sludgy hardcore similar to Xibalba, and on the other they’re a thrash band with a hardcore vocalist. They’re a bit of a mashup of different elements of subgenres that all got thrown into a big melting pot and served up at your nearest D.I.Y. venue. Think of it as drunk cooking; you come home from the bar hammered and need something to eat but you haven’t gone to the grocery store in a week so you just start throwing random ingredients together until you get something that’s edible.
With most drunk cooking the end result is either hit or miss and those words sum up Seeing Hell pretty well. As I said, Left Behind waver back and forth between hardcore and thrash metal, and their songs are at their best when they pick one side of that spectrum to stick with rather than mixing the two. For example, the intro track, “Headhunter,” starts off with some blast beats and chaotic guitars, but then quickly devolves into slow, chuggy riffs and just sort of fizzles out from there… the song can’t decide what it wants to do. On the other hand, “Snakes,” easily the best track on the album, starts out fast and thrashy, doesn’t really slow down and has some kick ass double bass bits that will stir you into a frenzy; it’s thrash that sounds sludgy rather than thrash that is mixed with actual sludge, as on “Headhunter.”
The composition of the songs is my biggest gripe with Seeing Hell, but it isn’t the only one. I’ve never cared much for hardcore vocals, but my personal tastes don’t excuse the fact that there are about a million spots on this album where the vocalist does grunts that are far too close for comfort to Drowning Pool’s “Bodies.” They’re especially prominent in “Gag,” and it really takes away from the song when all you can hear is Dave Williams yelling “URH NUTHIN WRONG WITH MEH,” every five seconds. There is also an excessive use of guitar feedback throughout the entire album that had me questioning whether or not my speakers were working correctly.
To go back to the drunk cooking thing again, let’s say you’re heating up a burrito and then realize you’ve baked it in the oven too long, but it’s all you have to eat. The ends taste like shit because they’re burnt but when you get to the middle, everything tastes perfect because the middle cooks slower and doesn’t burn. That’s what Seeing Hell is. “Headhunter,” and “Gag” are the burnt outsides that you choke down to get to the delicious center that is “Snakes.” Those who dig hardcore may like this album a bit more than me; despite all of my complaints, hey, even though part of that burrito tasted terrible, some of it was still pretty good.
Seeing Hell drops March 18 and you can listen to “Rock Bottom” off the album below.