Review: “Blessed By The Burn” by Left Behind

Originally released in October 2017 before seeing a second release in July 2018 via Pure Noise Records “Blessed By The Burn” is the sophomore full length from West Virginian Metalcore infused Beatdown Hardcore quintet Left Behind. It’s the bands first post Grammy Award (2016, “Sickest Band Ever”, “Most Bad A$$ Band Ever”) release and follows their debut “Seeing Hell”. Now sharing a label with the likes of Knocked Loose, Terror and Stick To Your Guns to name but a few, should open some doors.

Soaked in feedback “West By God” kicks in with some pulverising riffage from the bands twin headed dragon axe attack of Jordon Lorea and Byran Rea. It’s a raw and powerful tone setter showcasing some Sludge Metal influences and the production and mix gives the album a live energy feel. Largely an instrumental, save for a few words from frontman Zachary Hatfield, it has the flavour of a signature tune. “Sweetness of Nothing” has a real New Orleans Los Angeles Crowbar vibe to it with some big riffs and loose kit work from Zak Rea, the brother of guitarist Bryan. Big crash cymbal hits and reverb are the order of the day. The unclean vocals have a sung bellowed quality to them, rarely straying from the path in pitch. “Focus on the Flesh” continues the vibe while dropping the vocals down to a harsh spoken word for a verse as the guitars crank and shift through the gears at a slightly faster pace. Unlike the previous trio of tunes, “Tough Love” has a sub 10 second intro before the opening verse kicks in. Having a harder Metallic Hardcore edge to the main riff lifts things into more stompy territory with lyrics that are filled with a furious anger and sorrow. It tells the story of the death of vocalist Zachary Hatfield’s girlfriend after years of abuse from her father and you can feel that agony and pain in this cut. It’s raw and real.

“Twenty Four” sees a different approach with big drum work and feedback reverb swirling around the vocals giving it a harsh industrial quality but without any obvious use of electronics until the looped closing roar. Album title track “Blessed By The Burn” returns to the bands core NOLA sound with dirge filled riffs and squeals from the guitars to get those heads banging. There is a buried vocal line that repeats in the mix and nuances out after repeated listens. It’s barely audible so what’s being said, no idea.  Musically, “Scarred Soul” has a Down meets Nails quality with the envelope of the thoughtful and themed lyrics anchoring the bands sound as Hatfield reflects on his girlfriend’s passing. Unlike the often mindless edge of Nu-Metal, Hatfield sticks to more of a storytelling style. The focus is on getting the message across in a descriptive way rather than one that comes across “woe is me”. These things happen and I hate you for them and want to crush you. But without the moping around.

Hatfield harnesses his inner Kirk Windstein in his vocals over the sludge laden grooves of “Early Mourning” while Cade Lewis delivers arguably his finest bass performance. There is no compromise in the death grip of the albums appeal and quality. “Paranoid” has a darker atmospheric with sinister guitar tones as Hatfield talks of police harassment and getting arrested. The gravelly bassline and crisp drum sound give this cut more edge for what should be a live favourite. “Burn Out” asks a simple question of modern society in a eye opening socially aware lyric. What’s the point of doing something that you hate while waiting for a payday? Brining home the bacon with a hardcore crunch and finishing with a chant of the album title, it’s a stone cold winner in ten glorious tracks! [9/10]

“Blessed By The Burn” by Left Behind is out now via Pure Noise Records and available over at bandcamp.

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