In today’s music scene, kids in basements have shown no signs of slowing when it comes to creating a new sub-genre or figuring out how to fuse a new aspect into an existing sub-genre, in hopes of creating something completely unique. This couldn’t be more evident in the realm of combined singing and screaming vocals. The list is endless when it comes to styles; from a pop-punk/metalcore fusion like A Day to Remember, to a Screamo/Post-hardcore conjunction like Underoath, to a classic melodic metal and clean vocal combination like Between the Buried and Me. Where unique range in vocal styles used to be something rare and desirable, upcoming bands are starting to blend into the scenery, when compared to big named artists among the aforementioned.
In one corny metaphor, Los Angeles’ own Letlive is a full tank of oxygen to a drowning diver in the ocean of generic progressive hardcore. Vocalist, Jason Butler (who I might honestly add to my personal list of elite vocalists) is a perfect match for this band’s progressive guitars and aggressive drums. Their most recent record, Fake History, is proof that they are still making efforts to perfect their sound, while maintaining their signature style. Fake History was released through Tragic Hero records in 2010. After signing to Epitaph records, the album is now up for a re-release tomorrow (April 12th), and to its credit, is getting the attention it deserves.
As “Le Prologue” opens up the album, you may come to realize that this record is difficult to take in, without getting out of your seat. The energy that these guys put into their music is, without a doubt, contagious. This song gives you the urge to, as the lyrics literally state (though in a different context), “Stand up.”
“Renegade 86’” is where you’ll get your first taste of why I used the word ‘elite’ in reference to Butler’s singing. His clean vocals restore any faith once lost that someone can maintain a powerful voice at a high pitch. As opposed to someone like, say, Craig Owens (Chiodos/D.R.U.G.S.), who is notorious for a nearly untouchable high range, Butler cannot be criticized for sounding “girly”, for lack of a better word. While he may not be testing his throat and climbing quite that high as someone like Owens, he definitely shows his ability to maneuver through notes without losing the power behind his voice. This level of quality singing is rarely paired with equal quality in screamed vocals. Butler seems to possess the rare luxury of impeccable singing, screaming, and yelling skills.
The following track, “Enemies [Enemigos]” is home to a harmonized round of gang vocals, which is definitely something you won’t hear too often. It may be one of the first, but is not the last un-orthodox vessel of musical creativity that this band has put into this record.
Track 6, titled “Muther”, is definitely a softer song. The word ‘softer’ of course is a relative term. When compared to the rest of the album, the passive verses (one of which with the addition of a female guest vocalist) in this song add a slower and well-executed ‘gentle’ aspect to its quick and aggressive counterparts. The bridge welcomes jazzy drums and introduces an unexpected piano lead, until the guitars join back in, and end the song stronger than it started.
The obvious talent, passion, and versatility of Letlive is unavoidable in every song on Fake History. These guys have found their niche, and are proving it more and more with each release. The people behind the music of Letlive are people who know how to make things work, which is something that most bands lack. The ideas may come a dime a dozen, but actually laying it down and making it work is what has this band on their rise to the masses. If you weren’t yet a Letlive fan, or haven’t got your hands on Fake History, wait no longer. Fake History hits the shelves April 12th.