Review by Shannon Shumaker
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I sat down to listen to The Life We Lead, the new full-length album by Wisconsin metalcore act To Set Ablaze. I’m honestly pretty weary when listening to new metal core or death core bands, because it takes a lot for a band of that genre to stand out to me. In this day and age, they all just seem to blend together. The intro track on The Life We Lead, however, definitely piqued my interested and convinced me to stay, just to see what To Set Ablaze was capable of.
The second track on The Life We Lead, titled “The Confession” was definitely a drastic change from the first mellow, piano and string driven track on the record and for a moment, I was worried. While the intro had seemed different and unique, the beginning of “The Confession” almost sounded just like any other metalcore song to me, but thankfully, I kept listening, because the guitar work and vocals on this track are actually quite phenomenal. There are these little breaks in the fast paced track where a really neat, almost jazzy guitar part comes in and it’s just the perfect thing to set this band apart from the others for me. Even though the jazzy little breaks remind me a bit of Iwrestledabearonce, To Set Ablaze manage to make it their own.
The only real gripe I have with this album are the drums. While the drum work is great and fast paced, in some of the up tempo parts on the album, it’s almost a little distracting and a too much. The drums also sound too synthetic in certain tracks, but it’s easily made up for with the great guitar work and vocals on The Life We Lead. The melodic leads parts are definitely captivating, especially on the fourth track “Infectious,” which also starts with a really strong vocal part. “Infectious” also has me smiling right from the beginning when vocalist, Ryan Bortner mutters “fuck it, I forgot the fucking words” in between screams. Easily the strongest track on The Life We Lead is the eighth song on the album “Years of my Life.” The electronic accents in the beginning of the song are already enough to set it apart from the rest of the album, but then the vocals come in (both highs and lows) and just add another awesome level to the song.
Another strong point on The Life We Lead are the song structures. While most metal bands stick with the same routine (intro, verse, breakdown, chorus, repeat) To Set Ablaze don’t quite follow that path and it makes The Life We Lead interesting to listen to. While no songs really step away from the genre, they also don’t blend together or sound the same, which is definitely refreshing. In an extremely saturated genre, To Set Ablaze have definitely managed to find a unique little niche with their melodic guitar parts, strong vocals and their jazzy and electronic undertones.
Listen to "Years of my Life"