We Live In Trenches - Life Crisis (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

We Live In Trenches

Life Crisis (2014)

Farsot / La Familia

Norse mythology told of a hammer-wielding god who was associated with thunder, lightning and storms. That god was Thor, who, as part of his remit, was also responsible for the protection of mankind amongst other things. As a child I knew of Thor as the god of thunder, a natural occurrence which unnerved me to the point of hiding under bedcovers or behind furniture until I was old enough to know better. The roar of thunder and the weakness it caused it me is something I'm reminded of when listening to Life Crisis, the second album from Swedish quartet We Live In Trenches, as it proves to be as uncompromising as how I viewed Thor and his actions when I was a child. Please note my view of Thor was and still is, of a grizzled, full bearded super being and not the cleaner cut (nicely trimmed facial hair and pristine clothing) and sanitised Marvel version which doesn't carry the same kind of powerful imagery to me.

As such Life Crisis is no walk in the park, not unless that park is in the middle of a storm so intense that trees are being uprooted and flung this way and that, causing one to fear for their life. This is a war of attrition in which the listener needs to secure themselves firmly to the ground to ensure they're not scooped up into a tornado. Ok, maybe that's overdoing it a bit but We Live In Trenches make me consider a number of bands that have never shirked away from being of the ‘in your face' variety, including Big Black and The Rollins Band/Black Flag amongst others.

As far as noise goes, Life Crisis maintains a cacophonous sound that is unflinching in its approach, yet it's possible to discern a number of contrasting moments that hint towards a lighter, even melodic, aspect of what the band delivers. The air of malevolence is aided and abetted through the vocals of Ulf Stöckel who roars like the most furious storm, inducing a sensation that could loosen the bowels of those with even a strong constitution and when he bellows his way through the album, it's almost a case of "you're with me or you get trampled and left mangled in my wake."

The band's first album, Modern Hex, has more in common with the likes of Fucked Up and early Coffin Break and it's a very good album, but on Life Crisis We Live In Trenches appear to have undertaken a metamorphosis into a significantly more ugly, brutal and unflinching entity. It's not unlike it being two different bands with occasional comparisons as gone are the Fucked Up-style riffs, replaced by a more hostile and searing guitar that forms part of a bludgeoning musical fusillade. The other potent element of this album is in the pace of the songs – it's not a case of blistering speed, or a slow and deliberate approach like wading through molasses, but more a relentless and constant hammering being doled out in an attempt to wear down all and sundry. It hasn't worn me down yet and I've listened to this plenty of times; definitely one of the best albums of the year so far.