July 11, 2008 | | 3.5

Left to Vanish, Versus the Throne

Upon receiving the latest from Philadelphia’s Left to Vanish, I was ready to write the band off as some screamy, emo troop. The photo of the band on the promo sheet didn’t help, but luckily I put the disc in and hit “play.” Mixing discordant guitar tones, ultra-brutal and crushing mosh with death elements, Left To Vanish are of a singular mind — to bludgeon your sorry ass relentlessly.

Versus the Throne could certainly be pigeon holed into the generic deathcore genre (and at times justifiably so), but that would be doing the band a slight injustice. Sure there are elements of hardcore and death metal typical to that brand of metal, but there’s a bit more to this one that helps set the band apart from the sea of popular mediocrity. There’s a decent groove associated to the group’s sound that’s reinforced with ambient guitar tones, a few nicely timed, spacy effects and an intensity that would match any beat-down oriented hardcore band.

Give Us Barabbas
Left To Vanish starts off the album slowly with some crunchy, discordant guitars before a monster breakdown falls from the sky. The vocals are raw and leap from mid range to deep guttural smoothly throughout the track. Up until the last few seconds, this track is a constant series of crushing breakdown influenced riffing and thundering drums.

Seventeenth Year Cicadas
“Seventeenth Year Cicadas” starts off with some huge, distorted screams before thick guitars and pummeling rhythms come in. The 30 second mark sees the pace shift a bit and the feel of the track shift to a sound reminiscent of A Life Once Lost. It’s got a decent groove and intensity that’s contagious. There’s a nice series of aggressive growls and mosh at the 1:45 mark before the band shifts back into ALOL mode. This is a pretty damned good track.

Long Live This Heresy
A more melodic presence starts off this next track with creative drum work. Crunchy riffs come in with the vocals shortly after with a nice tempo. There’s some decent guitar work around the 50 second mark that gives the track a more dynamic sound before shifting into a thick, bass heavy mosh. Left to Vanish explod at the two minute mark with beefy drums and a quickened pace before a decent breakdown kicks in the door 30 seconds later. There’s plenty of elements throughout this one that makes it more than your standard deathcore track.

Dirt Merchant
“Dirt Merchant” opens with huge riffs and deep guttural vocals. This one hits like a tornado rippig through a trailer park. It’s slower overall pace gives it a massive and darkened feel. There’s a nice eruption of activity just before the three minute mark with catchy guitars and layered vocals. Don’t miss the 70’s rock groove just before the four minute mark with infectious guitars and tortured screams.

Lufthansa Heist
Chugging riffs and catchy hooks start this one off with a great head banging groove. Shouted vocals combine with the screamed and guttural variations to create a nice layered feel. There are a few moments of chaotic madness interjected throughout this one that makes for an excellent change of pace, as well as the addition of standard hardcore shouts.

Whitewolf And Nash
Light guitar work and rolling drums start off this next one with a slightly melancholy feel throughout. This short instrumental is definitely the lightest one the album, but does well in showcasing the band’s abilities.

Eyeless In Gaza
After that two minute interlude, “Eyeless In Gaza” gets started with a series of guitar hits before settling into a pummeling pace with the layered vocals. The groove to this one flows nicely along with the crushing riffs and heavy drum work. For some reason this one reminds me of some Sepultura elements  odd, I know.

Suffrage Under A Sulfur Sky
Thick riffs and nasty drum work get this one going nicely. There’s a nice bit of melodic guitar work at the :40 point that’s a nice contrast to the thick guitars just before it. The aggressive nature to this one is definitely evident in the growls, screams and thundering rhythms.

February 16th 1969
Another brief and eerie sounding instrument, “February 16th 1969” has ambient guitar tones, melancholy guitars and steady rhythm.

Northern Lights
Big guitars and heavy rhythms pick the pace back up after the last track. There’s a definite ALOL feel to this one, but it’s augmented with some nice guitar work and thick bass. The pace is slowed to a crawl with teh presence of a beefy breakdown and staggered vocals. The cleaner hardcore shouts come in around the 3:40 mark. Their use throughout the album has been minimal, but when employed, they are a nice change up from the growls and screams.

Falling In Love In A Whorehouse
The final track on Versus the Throne is an eerie, pummeling attack on all fronts. Massive riffs and bruising rhythms combine with devastating effect. Add in some melodic, sweeping guitars and the multiple vocal delivery and you have yourself one hell of a way to end out a pretty damned good album. I’m not sure if it’s a hidden track or just part of the last song, but at the 5:00 mark there’s some light guitar work that’s mellow and fades out slowly.

~ ~ ~

Side stepping the deathcore label that’s hurtling down the tracks at them, Left To Vanish employ ambient guitar tones, a few atmospheric elements and catchy grooves to create a brutal, yet smooth brand of aggressive metal. There are moments that any A Life Once Lost fan will swoon over and others where they’re ducking for cover trying to avoid the flying debris from exploding breakdowns. If you’re in the mood for a hardcore and death metal hybrid, but with a little more variation, this might be the album for you.

Favorite Tracks:
Most of them

Additional Notes: