Left Behind’s new album No One Goes to Heaven feels incredibly bleak. On their November Pure Noise Records release, the West Virginia-based band deliver song after song of crushingly miserable, sludgy metal that’s punctuated by a consistent stream of slow and steady breakdowns.

Although overall, the band are truly, maniacally intense, they slow down their playing just enough for listeners to feel more of an impact from individual hits, which significantly amplifies the music’s impact. You can’t really brace yourself to avoid the impact of this band’s musical muck—like a deadly rockslide, it’s all coming.

Further intensifying the immersive, emotional descent through hellish craze packed into this music, the band freely incorporate meaty, poignant riffs into their overall crushing approach. There aren’t really any “light” moments here—it’s not as though the band indulges in anything in the same universe as the familiar alternation between heavy and soft textures used by some bands in the metalcore field. Nope—with Left Behind, it’s all just an incredibly serious misery. The consistently, straightforwardly, brutalizing music helps ensure a mental shock of sorts accompanies the album, and the band feel like they use the power of the catchy riffs that they do have to further that shock.

Sometimes—like on the track “Staring at the Sun”—those riffs even venture into swaggering, southern rock territory, but those segments are never anywhere near free enough from the surrounding, sonic onslaught for that sense to come to fruition. In other words, there are never any really full-fledged southern metal segments, but the shadow of the possibility is definitely evident in the band’s monstrous creation. Left Behind use that possibility as just another casualty of the forever forward-rolling tank that is No One Goes to Heaven. As quickly as an alternative possible sonic ray of light cracks through the mayhem, it’s squelched out.

The album ends with a crushing track called “What Makes You Hurt” that slows down the already grueling metal even further. Like on the rest of the album, that song’s lyrics quickly reveal straightforward misery, and the musical slowdown ensures that every note feels extremely agonizing. Like an emotionally crushing horror movie, No One Goes to Heaven ultimately isn’t an album for the faint of heart, but if you’ve been driven to explore this desperation through life circumstances or anything else, Left Behind have crafted a fittingly crushing guide.

Purchase this album here.

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