VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Bitter Taste of Lost Years

VA – The Bitter Taste of Lost Years

(Resuscitation Records)

Resuscitation Records is a brand new, independent record label from Los Angeles, specializing in hardcore and metalcore.  This compilation is their first release, available on both CD and vinyl.  I must say it’s a nice touch having a hardcore comp released on wax!  This is a great start to the label, with 10 tracks from 10 bands I previously didn’t know much about.  A few of the bands have released demos or albums through other independent labels, but at least half of them we’ve not heard anything from at all until this release.

All of the tracks are well-produced, and as we stated above, this release is a great start for the label.  My only complaint is that the production techniques—although they sound very professional—leave little room for variation between each artist.  That’s not to say that all the bands sound alike, because there are clear stylistic differences, which we’ll go into in a moment.  But something about the way the songs are produced leaves something to be desired in the diversity from one song to the next.  Having said that, let’s take a track-by-track look at the lineup.

I Am the Vine starts things off with a fast-paced hardcore riff that borders on metalcore at times.  It’s one of those songs that starts to get lodged in your brain after repeated listens.  Next up is Plead the Widow’s Case, who integrate some melodic parts in their hardcore, as well as a sufficient amount of screamed vocals.  We see one of the biggest points of divergence in track 3 from BoughtbyBlood, who bring my favorite track from the album.  This is metalcore with some super-heavy riffing that’s part breakdown/part riff, reminiscent of some sludge and/or crust punk, at times bearing a mild resemblance to The Souls Unrest or His Hero is gone.

Collapse/Revive (one of the bands with an album out already, this one through Sancrosanct Records) are next with some atmospheric metalcore—you know the type with slower sections, breakdowns interspersed with silence and/or layered keyboards, reminding me of As Lions and Lambs.  Then comes Barriers with one of the faster-paced tracks on the release.  There’s almost a mild grindcore influence on this one to round out side 1 of the vinyl.

Side 2 up with Your Hands Write History with another one of the more divergent tracks; this time featuring a combination of sung/screamed vocals, melodic parts, and even some blastbeats!  So Much Hope, Buried bring a slower track, and it’s the first one where clean/sung vocals are predominant, as well as the use of piano.  While I like the song structure quite a lot, the dissonant piano tune detracts from the overall effect they are trying to capture.  It’s not that I’m against keys in heavy music (I’m not), but the way this one is used in a sort of deliberately out-of-tune fashion doesn’t work for me.

Intercessor are next in the queue, providing some screamy mid-tempo hardcore, but with lots of leads.  This is another very strong track.  Ænon are up next for the penultimate track, with some riff-heavy hardcore with both shouted and growled vocals.  The chorus/bridge makes effective use of some melodic guitar leads and some clean vocals.  Last but not least, finishing the collection are Forerunner.  Tempo-wise this is the closest we have to traditional hardcore, and yet we still have that very contemporary production and modern vocals.  In fact, I think there are two vocalists, or at least 2 distinct vocal styles being used.  I must admit, I hadn’t noticed the song title “O My Soul” and listened to the album 3-4 times before I heard the screamed line “Your name is great, and your heart is kind!”  It finally dawned on me that the song is a re-vamped metalcore version of the worship song “10,000 Reasons.”  I love re-worked versions of worship songs, but even before I’d realized what this was, I’d already identified it as one of my top 2 songs on the album.

All in all, this is a great compilation and I’m eager to hear more from both the label and the bands on this collection.  Once again, my only recommendation would be to enlist some variety in producers and/or production techniques to create some sonic differences in the sounds that ultimately wind up in our speakers.  I want to be clear that the production is not bad—it’s very good!  I just need a little more variation to bring out the individual qualities of each band.

Track listing:

1. I Am The Vine – The Pull

2. Plead The Widow’s Cause – Pain Split

3. BoughtByBlood – Vipers* (top track)

4. Collapse//Revive – Wide Of The Mark

5. Barriers – Speed of Light

6. Your Hands Write History – Wandering Stars       

7. So Much Hope, Buried – Slave

8. Intercessor – Fide

9. Ænon – Despite All This

10. The Forerunner – O My Soul* (top track)

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