The Last Ten Seconds of Life
Despite substantial evidence to the contrary, deathcore is alive and well. The best bands (see Fit for an Autopsy, Within the Ruins, etc.) utilize faster tempos and the inherent energy in death metal first, and breakdowns are a vicious (and delicious) icing on the cake. Going the other way around usually results in a boring breakdown-laden sound that only appeals to kids looking to scare their religious parents. The Last Ten Seconds of Life ignore recent history and choose to buck the trend. Soulless Hymns shouldn’t work in theory. I’ve lost count of how many breakdowns there are. Aside from a few (admittedly impressive) outbursts, the pace is closer to lumbering. None of this should work. The Acacia Strain can’t even do slow deathcore anymore.
Of course, Soulless Hymns is fantastic despite its perceived shortcomings. You want riffs? “Pain is Pleasure” and “Meant To Be Free” absolutely have you covered. You want evil breakdowns that will scare priests? “Ballad of the Butcher” is terrifying and extremely gratifying. You want a template that all future deathcore bands should follow? “Sacrifice (The Prince)” is pretty damn close to a perfect song for the genre. Storm Strope is an animal on this record, spewing his vitriol with impressive range. It helps that his lyrics, while suitably misanthropic, are decidedly more intelligent than the standard fare. If this is meant to be a set of hymns for those rallying against God, it sounds like atheists have found a formidable pastor.
Where the band truly succeeds is finding a way to make a whole album of this style so enjoyable from front to back. It’s not exactly the most diverse listen, but that’s because The Last Ten Seconds has, on album number three, honed in its sound. It’s not often that a deathcore band nails down its songwriting chops, but that’s exactly what happened with Soulless Hymns. This is a band operating at near-peak efficiency. It won’t win over those who have already written off the genre, but it will absolutely destroy some souls in the live setting. (Nicholas Senior)