REVIEW ROUND-UP: The Last Ten Seconds Of Life, Circles, Letters Sent Home

Artwork for The Last Ten Seconds Of Life’s ‘Disquisition Of An Execution’ - a figure holding another figure’s arms and kicking them in the back

The Last Ten Seconds Of Life

Disquisition Of An Execution

2022 has seen something of a rollercoaster ride for Pennsylvania-bred deathcore outfit The Last Ten Seconds Of Life, and this continues with their latest offering Disquisition Of An Execution. The release of the epic self-titled record early in 2022 saw the band’s name taken to new heights of success. Despite the sudden extreme line-up change shortly after, The Last Ten Seconds Of Life haven’t let these events hold them back. Marking a new era, the EP Disquisition Of An Execution, delivers an onslaught of sheer brutality.

Dreams Of Extermination begins the furious assault with a haunting symphonic twist. Operatic backing choirs introduce a dramatic theatricality to the sound. This atmospheric enhancing element makes a significant impact on the overall effect of the track. The limelight of course shines on the ludicrously heavy guitars, machine-gun drumming and demonic vocals. The slow rhythmic riff of Dreams Of Extermination is sure to seep its way into your head and get stuck there for a good while. A menacing quality manifests from this compelling and dominating arrangement.

Retribution explodes into life with high-speed rhythms and contrapuntal instrument parts. Raging heaviness is at the core of Retribution, but The Last Ten Seconds Of Life once again showcase their compositional prowess through rising and falling dynamics—tempo changes, varying tones and textures all combine into a relentless wall of sound. The penultimate Liberation unleashes a rhythmic display of groove rhythms and percussive textures. With a nod to rap-metal and modern metal styles, the band are more than capable of exploring the distorted depths from new angles. Annihilation Phenomena may be the final instalment of this release but by no mean does it fall short. The Last Ten Seconds Of Life let loose an anguished force. It’s an intense attack, but of course, there’s more to it than that. A bridge of dark, and yet strangely seductive, vocals emerge accompanied with groove bass and melodic shimmering guitars. And then, the monumental breakdown begins.

Deathcore boundaries are being pushed further and further with experimental arrangements and genre-influences being explored. The Last Ten Seconds Of Life have assembled four individually distinctive tracks that not only complement each other as a cohesive EP but demonstrate the versatility of their sound. • HR

For fans of: Fit For An Autopsy, Aversions Crown, Humanity’s Last Breath

‘Disquisition Of An Execution’ by The Last Ten Seconds Of Life is out now on Unique Leader Records.

Artwork for Circles’ ‘The Stories We Are Afraid Of | Vol. 1’ - a collection of photos arranged in blocks with a lilac filter over them


The Stories We Are Afraid Of | Vol. 1

Alternative metal outfit Circles venture further into progressive and technical realms with the new EP. The Stories We Are Afraid Of | Vol. 1, the first instalment of a two-part offering, follows on from the Australian acts second album The Last One embracing harder breakdowns, atmospheric electronics, and compelling dynamics.

Wonder makes a big impact as the EP’s opening track. From a serene synth-focused intro the heavy instrumentation then bursts into life bringing with it a fiery energy. It carries an uplifting mood with huge chord progressions and soaring vocals, remaining grounded by the metal tones Circles achieve a full wall of sound. Eerie dissonant synths and a heavy breakdown allude to an approaching darkness, conveying the multi-natured theme of the EP. The upbeat energy segues into Bliss, and a more progressive rhythm emerges shifting the energy into something new. Staccato guitars, intricate riffs and stunning harmonies across the vocals combine to show the technical side of Circles. Sleepwalking dives straight into abrasive guitars and thunderous percussion. A haunting soundscape subtly manifests behind the distorted instrumentation adding something extra to the track. The emotive delivery across the vocal styles in Sleepwalking also enhances the weight of the instruments.

Drastically switching up the mood, Echo brings a more minimalist and serene composition with piano led melodies accompanying the soaring lead vocal melody line. Gradually building momentum by introducing each instrumental part in turn, Echo carries a sense of anticipation as percussion and strings increase the hype. Dropping suddenly into electronics the breakdown fires up with a dramatic effect. Transposing the serene seamlessly into the heavy space, the musical journey of this track keeps hold of the attention throughout. Dig emerges with bouncing energy with an optimistic edge. Anguished vocals channel a myriad of emotions in this song of realisation and awakening. Guitar-powered rhythms produce a solid impact in Reckoning; the constant nature of the rhythm is a driving force of heavy. Contrasted with more minimalist electronic sections to add in interest, the intensity doesn’t let up throughout Reckoning. It marks a defining conclusion for The Stories We Are Afraid Of | Vol. 1, seeing Circles go out with a bang.

Circles have unleashed a deeply personal and powerful release in The Stories We Are Afraid Of | Vol. 1. The ebbs and flows of the EP carry an uplifting and cathartic air, while also alluding to aspects of darkness. It’s a thrilling collection of tracks and leaves a sense of eager anticipation for Vol. 2. • HR

For fans of: TesseracT, Monuments, Periphery

‘The Stories That We Are Afraid Of | Vol. 1’ by Circles is out now on Wild Thing Records.

Artwork for Letters Sent Home’s ‘Fire In Me’ - a young woman sitting among plants and looking upwards

Letters Sent Home

Fire In Me

Something about Fire In Me just feels…off. It doesn’t help that Letters Sent Home’s direction has been previously explored quite a lot, as the halfway house between dark alt-pop and crisp, modern post-hardcore. That only sets up comparisons that they struggle to live up to, and do so rather conspicuously at that. That is to say, they’re a band with a fair amount of development to go before they’re scraping the heights they’re aiming for, because this isn’t that.

It starts off in earnest on Fire too, possibly the weakest first impression that Letters Sent Home could make through its alt-pop clank that’s assembled so lopsidedly. That’s just a taste of the production woes that Fire In Me bears, largely through guitars that sound mighty underweight despite the intention of grandeur and excess. Instead, it’s more akin to latter-day PVRIS crossed with some of the more forgettable metalcore to experience brief flickers of note. Even in Emily Paschke’s vocals, while she has a good command for clarity that’s definitely appreciated, there’s nothing in her performance that’s scraping the rafters in an oddly muted, reserved register.

It says a lot when the EP’s by-far best moment is the stripped-down rendition of Misery Loves Company, in which the lonelier piano and strings feel like much more apt accompaniments for a poppier style of singing. (It’s also worth noting that the physical release also comes with the both the full-band version and a version featuring Being As An Ocean’s Joel Quartuccio, both weaker than their unplugged counterpart, and Quartuccio’s speak-screaming on the latter proving that absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.) Outside of that, highlights feel few and far between. Letters Sent Home don’t present much of an interesting profile of themselves, be that in the meagre material on offer that’s not exactly breaking the bank for cool new ideas, or in a lyrical set that’s not awful but feels very bog-standard when it comes to mental examination and personal struggles.

That’s not to say there isn’t anything here, but it’s all very fleeting. Inasmuch as Letters Sent Home’s ambition feels broad, the execution of it is notably underpowered without much to really pull it back into place. In turn, Fire In Me falls dead among a field of underwhelming, largely inconsequential pop-rock, faced with a steep climb to crystallise any kind of momentum. It’s never impossible to overcome—genuine hope or the naïveté of wanting a new band to succeed? You decide—but still, it’s a long old road ahead. • LN

For fans of: PVRIS, Halflives, As December Falls

‘Fire In Me’ by Letters Sent Home is released on 16th December on Hassle Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)

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