Care For A Blast From The Pop Punk Past?
Review for the latest release for, Lifeboats, The Best Of The Worst, can be heard right here!
Is it 1995 again? Why does it feel like I'm either stuck back in high school or listening to a raunchy comedy film soundtrack from the mid 90's? What the hell is going on here? Am I late for school? Did I take the red pill or the blue pill? I'm too sober for this. Anyways, allow me to snap back to reality here, Lifeboats, a band that prides themselves on recreating these old nostalgic tunes from back in the day the likes of Blink 182, A Day To Remember, or The Used, but with a slight heavier edge with that hardcore approach they infuse in their music, are here to carve their niche in the totem pole of rock and roll. This is once again a first for Metal Incorporated as in this isn't a typical review that you may be used to from us, but we will reiterate our saying here, "Per Musicam Unitum Stamus, In Music We Stand United, and that means all genres of hard rock, punk, metal, etc. can get a fair shot to be featured with Metal Incorporated to help these bands find new fans and reach new audiences, so, with that being said, let's get into this latest release from Lifeboats and see what they're all about!
First up on this 7 track release is the opening track, Second Mind. Blending a bit of that hardcore east coast American sound with some crust punk and metal core, this song is a mixing pot of elements and vibes. The different styles come in fast and switch up constantly to keep you on your toes and interested in hearing just what the hell is going to happen next. Although equal parts catchy and heavy, Second Mind seems to play to it's own strengths here and relishes in it's heaviness that it brings to the table for the duration of the track. The catchy elements are sprinkled here and there to deliver the hooks when necessary, while the vocals blend together the raspy, harsh metalcore meets hardcore metal style with the clean vocal style, catchy chorus approach that is tried and true within the confines of these specific genres of music. A rather fine display of this type of music and it checks all the boxes of what it represents.
The following track we have here is titled, Til The End. This song shows their attention to good song writing and catchy riffs. Where the opening track shows the vocals can carry a song, this track shows the musical side of these guys and that they know how to let a riff carry a song forward. These guys are seriously a walking, breathing time capsule with the music that they produce, I can't get over how they are able to tap in to that old style pop punk and breathe fresh air into it. This is by far not my type of music, but for what these guys are doing with their songs, they seem to be doing it rather well.
Your Own Violence is up next and it showcases a more melodic, albeit dark sounding approach to their craft. A bit heavier than the previous tracks, Your Own Violence almost sounds like a different band altogether, almost borderline As I Lay Dying or All That Remains. This one I was able to sink my teeth into a bit more personally, it has the heavy and aggressive riffing with the beat down style break downs and the fantastic drum work that pounds away along with the riffage, this one is fantastic. They really capture the very essence of the songs title with this track and deliver in spades a hard rocking good time with this one, if you were to only give just one song of these guys a listen, I'd say that it should be this one because it encompasses everything that they represent all in one package. Good job with this one, guys!
Onward follows on this release and it honestly feels like this album just escalates in heaviness with each song, like we are on a rollercoaster climbing up the first incline in intensity. This is yet another heavy hitting track similar to Your Own Violence, but with the catchy chorus vocals making a return, rather than the darker melody from Your Own Violence. Onward dances a pattern that keeps this track inline with the, dare I say it, "radio friendly" elements, while bringing in the rocking moments that will keep your head bobbing and your toes tapping along with the beat. This one is a close runner up for my favorite track so far. This sentence here goes out directly to the band, if this song isn't on the radio, then what the hell are you waiting for? Get it out there to the masses!
Returning with the riffs again is the next track, Cut From The Same Cloth. A tasty jam, this one has a nice bottom end bass delivery that keeps the vibe of the song energetic and fun. The vocals are in full force in Cut From The Same Cloth as they deliver a whirlwind of emotions over the song from beginning to end. Now, I know that guitar solos aren't really a "thing" when it comes to this style of music, but damnit if the last section of the song during the slower part isn't just begging for a solo to be placed there to tie this song together, man, that would have been the perfect thing for that part of the song, oh well. Still a solid song, just felt that that needed to be pointed out.
So the next track is apparently a Paramore cover. I have no idea what that band sounds like so this is new to me, but if you happen to like this Paramore band, then give this Lifeboats cover of their song, Misery Business a listen. Going in to this song fresh since I haven't even heard of Paramore, the song itself, well, feels out of place among the actual Lifeboats material if I'm to be honest. For what it is, I can see why they covered it, it has catchy elements and they are able to blend in their own unique sound to the cover, which I can always respect when a band does do a cover song, I'd rather they put their own spin and style into the cover rather than just doing a simple copycat approach. I did give the original song a listen to help with the comparison here between this cover and it, and I can honestly say that the Lifeboat version has more energy it seems.
Alright, the closing track is upon us and Distress has to be hands down the catchiest one that Lifeboat has to offer on this release. This one could also very well be a radio single similar to, Onward. It's heavy enough to keep you interested in it and it's catchy enough that it'll find an audience out there in the radio spaces. I can see this song being a crowd favorite at their shows with the patrons singing along and doing that jumping up and down thing that those types of crowds tend to do for this style of music. Once again I hear another missed opportunity here with the lack of a guitar solo, they could have let that ending section of the song play out a little bit, let it ride and fade it out with a shredding guitar solo. Damn. Not a deal breaker, just saying, maybe bring in guitar solos every now and then to utilize them for good effect to elevate and highlight certain parts of a song. For what it is though, the ending section of this song was pretty great and full of infectious energy.
So after all of that, it's now verdict time. Being that I'm not much of a fan of this style of music, I can safely say that this was still an enjoyable listen from the moment I pressed play. Now, don't go and remove my "metal" badge of honor just yet, hear me out. Lifeboats is a fun band, full of energy and they constantly keep things fresh with each new track. Are they heavy as hell? Well, no, this isn't Cattle Decapitation or 1349. But for THIS style of music, they can get heavy and down and dirty when they need to be, all while retaining their catchy drives and hooks from the riff work of each song. The few nitpicks I had with these songs weren't anything detrimental to their music. A few tweaks and changing some things here and there(cough, guitar solos, cough!... excuse me) can really help them stand out. But, since I'm not a expert on this genre, do Lifeboats stand out already as it is? I don't honestly know, but I do know that I feel they have the potential to deliver the goods and bring their "A" game when they plug in and hit the stage or the recording studio. I say give them a listen for yourself and see if there's something there for you to latch on to, I found myself enjoying my time with Lifeboats, who knows, you may as well. As it stands though, I did hear that some of this was kind of the typical approach to song writing that we all know to be the standard of the "pop" type genre, they did surprise me a few times in keeping things different, however, so if they can continue with that element of surprise in their music, then I think that future material from Lifeboats can achieve much more within their genre and fanbase. A solid 7.5 out of 10 is what I can safely grant this release, only because that odd cover felt really out of place to me, if it wasn't there, the flow of the album would have felt much smoother, it really did feel like a weird transition or a curve ball was thrown into a rather solid performance, maybe if the placement of the track were to be at the end as the final track, it would help with the ebb and flow of the songs, but as I have said a few times over now in this review, it isn't a deal breaker, that cover song just wasn't for me, at all. But give Lifeboats a listen on their bandcamp and show them your support on their social media pages and give their latest album, The Best Of The Worst a listen and rock out for nostalgias sake while possibly finding something new to enjoy!
Review done by Joshuah Jones, the bassist of The Obsidian Resurrection.