Life Long Tragedy - Runaways (Cover Artwork)

Life Long Tragedy

Runaways (2008)


Life Long Tragedy's 2004 debut LP, Destined for Anything, was very much a product of its time. Double-bass drum reliance, weird metalcore moments, a smattering of cliché "posi" lyrics and an overuse of gang vocals marred what was otherwise an enjoyable, if not unoriginal, hardcore release. In 2006, after signing to Deathwish, Inc., LLT released a split with Final Fight, which saw both bands heading in a Modern Life Is War-esque direction, with slower, grinding songs and a more personal and profound lyric style.

However, with Runaways, LLT sets aside any previous adherence to trends and lays out a highly original and emotionally affecting record. They ignore convention and display a willingness to take risks, most immediately noticeable with a raw and guitar-heavy production style. There is no reliance on gimmicks or studio tricks -- just a pure outbreak of energy and angst, sonically reminiscent of Converge's You Fail Me, stripped of its technique and mathy tendencies.

One standout track, "Hey Death," showcases all aspects of the band's newfound maturity. They can blast out a fast part, be catchy, and then fuck it all up with a slow and seething plea with death over a haunting bass and drum counterpoint before building to a final cathartic explosion of intensity. Many bands lose focus on the art of subtlety when attempting to be this profound, but LLT employ it liberally. Each instrument stands alone, unafraid to play with or against the others or even to drop out entirely. This is a rare trait in hardcore and lends a powerful and organic feel to the record.

On side two, LLT revisits "Sweet Innocence" from their split with Final Fight. While I am normally not a fan of bands re-recording songs, they manage to pull off a new take that fits well in the sequencing. The original recording is slow, but here they slow it down even more, wringing every last ounce of desperation out of an already desperate song. No longer does it sound like a tribute to Modern Life Is War, but showcases a band chasing its own dark muse.

Runaways is the sound of the moments in life when you look around and decide everything is fucked. In this record's world, darkness prevails and the plasticity of our culture is ever apparent. The raw sound and exasperated intensity of this record will alienate less educated and adventurous listeners but will reward active and repeated listens.