|The atmospheric and mostly uptempo Death Doom on Life’s Edge’s debut EP is solid, but hardly essential.
Life’s Edge are a new Death Doom band from Lithuania who have now released their debut EP, Left in Despair. Wait – Death Doom? What is Doom about this? The songs on this release are based on mid- to uptempo rhythms for the most part, featuring doublebass drumming predominantly. There is no aestheticised minimalism, no hypnotic bleakness to convey the feeling of being Left in Despair. Yet, the six members manage to create a dark atmosphere throughout the 29 minutes of material, and this is where the Doom influence becomes apparent.
Stylistically, long sections of the EP could probably be aptly described as Atmospheric Death Metal despite the lack of downright aggressiveness, but this label would not do justice to the air of melancholy which pervades the short intro track and sets the mood for what is about to follow. The lyrics, too, show the band’s affinity to Doom, dealing with classic topics such as loneliness, disappointment, loss and resignation. This emotional potential is most prominent in the title track. Finally, there are a number of short interludes with clean guitar, keyboards and melodic lead guitar lines which are reminiscent of many mellower Death Doom bands and reveal influences from the British scene in particular. The closest comparison I can come up with is the first album by The Prophecy which also features some faster, simplistic riffs (but to much greater effect). The vocals are just what one would expect in this stylistic context – powerful growls, spoken word and some fairly convincing clean singing in “Impurity”. There is some technically good lead and solo guitar work to be heard here and there whereas the basic riffs remain pale and uninspired most of the time; one might also call them functional, keeping the flow of the music intact without adding anything of particular interest. The song structures are quite dynamic (another not too doomy feature), but lacking focus so as to capture the listener’s attention. Production-wise, things sound rather solid and clear enough for every element to shine through, but the sound could have been richer and more powerful. It is sufficient for a first effort, though.
What do all these details tell us? If you have read carefully, you may have noticed that everything is quite or fairly or rather, so quite is the bottom line here: Left in Despair is quite good, but it is also quite unessential. So even though it is not a bad recording at all, I hardly know whom to recommend it to – maybe to fans of atmospheric Death Doom who do not mind the uptempo approach. The band shows some talent (especially in terms of atmosphere, which makes all the difference here) and it remains to be seen whether they will find a way to exploit it more efficiently. Of course I could say that it would be nice if they took a doomier direction, but that would be to question their artistic vision. While that vision may not suit my personal tastes too well, I am sure that Life’s Edge will find an audience for it, provided that their songwriting becomes more focused. They seem to be going somewhere with this release, but they are not quite there yet.
A side note: It is beyond me how audio engineers (or whoever is in charge) can do such a sloppy mastering job that transitions between songs are cut off by pauses which should not be there (which is the case here between tracks 1 and 2). It makes a very unprofessional impression and diminishes the overall quality of a release in a totally unnecessary way.
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1. Light That Never Shines
3. Our Drowned World
4. Left in Despair
Duration : Approx. 29 minutes
Visit the Life's Edge bandpage.