Tuesday, 27 November 2012

10. A Life Once Lost - Ecstatic Trance (2012)

Let the Top Ten begin!

Post-Obzen, post-Myspace and post-got-djent the cerebral world of math metal has attained a visibility and legitimacy that its pioneers could not have predicted. In 2012, Meshuggah came to roost amid a sea of extended range slinging, f-sharp toting, Axe-FX II wielding, DAW mastering, self-promoting contenders. The stylistic preference of these latter day adopters is prog-metal complexity punctuated by contrived variances on prime numbers and odd against even meters. Frequently the result is a busy swirl of digital mayhem cut and pasted to perfection. Meshuggah went the other way. So did A Life Once Lost.

Ecstatic Trance is the sound of a ‘core band gone ‘Shuggah. Trance sees the band putting three and five and six against four, looping and droning with conviction and groove. It is that latter element which to me makes the band ready to take on the world as an ally of the superb Swedes, these guys dare to groove in a way which is both primitive and intellectual. In fact, this makes sense as vocalist Bob Meadows has said here:

It’s been forever since we’ve put a record out, and we have a broader influence through our path. Whether it’s been the kraut-progressive music scene of Europe, Germany, and England, or the tribal, rhythmic funk that comes out of Africa, or the dark, psychedelic stoner drone that comes out of Japan…  Whatever music we got into, you’re going to hear a bit of it on this record. But we could be shooting ourselves in the foot, too.

And here:

This next record is just us evolving even more so, just growing up and getting older, allowing the influences of different bands and musicians to influence stuff that we’ve done, whether it was bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s to the Afrobeat scene from Africa. It was our way to pay homage to them through what we do metal-wise.

What makes Trance so engaging is the guitarists tendency toward employing the influences listed above instead of traveling down the now worn road of Holdsworth aping. The melodic counterpoints drone, chime and writhe over the muscular, grooving maelstrom underneath. Easily one of the grooviest metal albums of the year.
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