Saturday, September 10, 2011

Letlive - Fake History

You know those people on Facebook who like their own chain statuses and have thousands of photos of themselves in the bathroom holding up their mobile phone, in an album going by the innocuous name of “meee  =^-^=”? That’s what generic -core sounds to me. Everything from the dumbed down riffs to the frustratingly standard drumming to the insulting solos to the painfully illogical and reckless song structures and the even more torturous mandatory “clean vocal” choruses, all arranged at random in an overproduced package labeled “Please listen to me...”, just scream of attention-whoredom. It’s not so much an insult to one’s intelligence as it assumes one doesn’t have any. Much like most extreme metal, it has pissed on subtlety’s grave, but much unlike most extreme metal, it hasn’t done so as part of a ritual to ressurect subtlety. And it’s not even worth listening to for shits and giggles! It’s about as entertaining as a person trying to be entertaining.

That being said, Letlive’s Fake History doesn’t inject generic -core with new life as such, and more tries to go at it from another angle. The “let us entertain you, pretty please” attitude is still present, but now it’s buried ankle deep in good musicianship and a production worthy of a temple and goat sacrifices. Actually, it’s not that simple. It’s like these guys put as much work here as on any other  generic -core album, but gave a lot more attention to certain parts. So you’ll have absolute killer material such as “Homeless Jazz” sharing run-time with absolute duds like “H. Ledger”, or, more frequently, have songs with really good ideas ruined by what the fuck is that doing there. Just as you are half-way through “The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion”, the song abruptly stops and decides to head in a completely different direction before inexplicably going back to where it had started, and that’s just a warning of what’s to come further along. Throughout the album, Letlive walk a fine line between making sense and the complete opposite of that: sometimes they make it, sometimes they don’t. And when they don’t, they regularly even go as far as destroying a perfectly good song, as “We, The Pros Of Con” can testify.

And the playing is just as rickety as the song structures it is supported on. The guitars will frequently hit some amazing riffs and then just forget them and blurt out a couple of terrible ones to compensate. The drumming is a weird blend of maturity and Lars Ulrich: one moment it will be controlled and intricate, and the other it will follow the pattern of “HIT ALL THE THINGS”. Meanwhile, the vocals will usually range from incredible to appalling, and when they don’t range from incredible to appalling, it’s probably because they’re being both at the same time. And the production? It is worthy of a temple and all the goat blood it can get its hands on, but I think the same of Skittles, and even I just want to die after a packet of ‘em delicious bastards. And speaking of Skittles, I’m okay with recycling the almighty verse and chorus for a couple of tracks here and there, but an entire full-length album is overkill.

So, what has Fake History got to warrant even a measly three stars? I mean, I think I’ve criticized everything about it without going into the limbo of lyrics and album artwork. What warrants it three stars is that when Letlive gets its act together for long enough, a person dodges a falling piano. When they put effort into perfecting a song, it shows. The result will still be encompassed within the spectrum of genericness, but it will be good enough to show wannabe bands how it’s done. They have all that it takes to be brilliant, but their lack of focus and difficulty mastering even the most basic song structure really upsets me.

Standout tracks:

Renegade 86’
Homeless Jazz
Day 54

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