The immensely dramatic, immediately immersive new record from Life called demo three demands attention. Life is the project of Damian Ojeda, who’s also behind the post-black metal project Sadness; here, Ojeda performs an absolutely crushingly emotionally intense walk into feedback-drenched, thunderingly poignant, desperation-wracked despair with barely a crack or two of light emerging at any point. This music feels like the classically quaking crescendos of post-rock and screamo mixed together for an absolutely devastating creation designed to draw out emotional residue via sheer weight.
Track one, called “ametic,” begins with tense, shuddering heaviness conveyed via pounding guitars and drum patterns that feel like they’re the sonic equivalent of heaving with sobs more than they’re delivering any particularly forward-moving, energetic melody. The vocals for most of the song’s runtime shriek in the background, with the whole mix buried under raw feedback, as if the central perspective of the song features someone isolated, in the middle of a graveyard, wailing while their cries reverberate across the empty expanses around them. After a build into a rapid succession of guitar blasts carrying a crushing emotional weight via their feedback-enhanced sonic thickness, the song evolves into more of a forward-carrying melody, as if that individual at the core of the song’s perspective started running across the fields around them.
There’s no overly bright spot amidst these heavy, somber melodies, even when the energy picks up. There’s just a sense that the guitars themselves are, somehow, wailing with desperation.
Fundamentally, the structure of these songs feels accessible. The guitars streak along with a frequently emo rock and post-hardcore oriented meandering melody, and the devolutions via elements like the coarsely shrieked vocals and more chaotic, frantic moments spin the mix towards a classic screamo feel. Yet, at the same time, the actual performances feel like they’re conveying the emotional rawness that would go with skin getting clawed back to a bloody pulp. There’s a palpable agony ringing out amidst these songs like a church bell heralding an arrival to a miserably foggy underworld.
On demo three, Life consistently take their time to build up to the full emotional scope of their soul-chilling creations. The second and fourth tracks (out of just four total) clock in at over ten minutes each. The tensely wound yet clearly chest-heaving melodies of “paroxis,” the second track, feel like they’re physically pushing listeners along via the consistent, minutes-long presentations; the song and record as a whole don’t just feature snapshots of the emotionally pained experiences at the center. Rather, they feature a whole progression through the pressure that gets the tears out and beyond. Amidst the consistently soaring, searing crushes, a kind of beauty emerges — it’s not a respite, but it’s the beauty of catharsis and release.
Listen to demo three below!