Band: Life in Your Way (facebook)
Release: October 25th
The Kingdom of Man:
- Blind in Retrospect
- Growth in Passion
- Forsaken Me
The Kingdom of Darkness:
- Ruler of the Air
- Take Notes
- Buried Idols
The Kingdom of God:
- Who I Am
- Like a River
- The Healer
- The Ascension
I know what you’re thinking. “Another highly rated album? Do these guys get paid to give albums high ratings?”. I have been a frequent visitor to IVM over the last few years and have seen my fair share of these comments, and even seen a few of them fairly recently. I will come right out and say it now, I love Life in Your Way and eagerly anticipated this release since they announced it. I can not even begin to count how many times I watched the promo video on their Kickstarter page. With that being said, I fully expected to be somehow disappointed with this album. However, that nagging “something” the disappointed me is no where to be found on any of the 13 songs on “Kingdoms”. I know not all of you will agree with my score, but I think it is only fitting for an album this moving.
Anyone who knows anything about melodic hardcore is aware that Life in Your Way announced their farewell in 2008 and played their final song in July of that year. Being the new found Life in Your Way fan that I was after witnessing their passionate live show and hearing what I consider to be a masterpiece, “Waking Giants”, I was crushed to hear the news. Wasn’t that just my luck that once I found a band that really stood out to me, they go ahead and die? Needless to say, after I heard the news of their disbanding, I spent many hours sadly listening to “Waking Giants”, chanting all the gang vocal parts sadly to myself. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when in February of 2011 the melodic hardcore legends announced their partnership with Come&Live! and their release of a new record later that year. As I mentioned, I fully expected to be somehow let down by the release since I was so hyped about it. But let me reiterate, I am not disappointed in any way, shape, or form.
Now, enough of my pathetic sob story/anticipation of this album and on to the actual review. Since the album is split into three eps, I will review each separately.
From the opening scream of “Forever!” by Joshua Kellam on the track of the same name, followed by the melodic riffing of all three guitarists, old school fans of Life in Your Way know they are in for a treat. If there is any doubt in your mind that this isn’t the old Life in Your Way you knew and loved back in 2008, by the time Growth in Passion bursts onto the scene with catchy, uplifting singing any doubt will be erased from your mind. The whole “Kingdom of Man” section of “Kingdoms” is pretty text book Life in Your Way. Plenty of harsh screams from Kellam almost equally balanced with the melodic vocals of James Allen as well as equally balanced harshness and melodic instrumentation. It’s almost as if Life in Your Way knew some fans might be a little skeptical that the band was still going to sound the same, which was indeed reassuring for cautious fans like me. The “Kingdom of Man” section is closed out with another highlight track Forsaken Me featuring guest vocals from Matt Wentworth of Our Last Night.
“The Kingdom of Darkness” starts out like a rhino on a slip and slide. Fast and heavy. With riffs and breakdowns so heavy and technical it would make Oh, Sleeper jealous, The Ruler of Air blazes it’s way right into gang chanting of “Don’t be fooled!”. The song features Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red and is sure to be a favorite of anyone who enjoys his band whether you have ever enjoyed Life in Your Way or not. “The Kingdom of Darkness” focuses mostly on the heaviness to fit the dark imagery painted by the lyrics and while some may have a problem with the lack of singing and melody, I find it refreshing to see that Life in Your Way can flex their muscles and show metalcore bands how it’s done.
“The Kingdom of God” makes up for what melody “The Kingdom of Darkness” was lacking. The album starts of with the brief track Introduction With lyrics proclaiming that the kingdom of God is for everyone on this planet. Introduction segues perfectly into This is Who I Am, one of the most moving tracks I have heard all year. Who knew hardcore could ever be this beautiful? Now I know I said “The Kingdom of God” focuses more on melody than being heavy, but that isn’t to say “The Kingdom of God” sounds nothing like Life in Your Way. In fact, the third track, Like a River has a breakdown in it that feels like it could have easily been somewhere on “The Kingdom of Darkness”. The Healer seems to be both a fan favorite and band member favorite due to the lyric from the song, “By His spirit we can heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse lepers, cast out demons” being put on shirts, banners the band brings on stage, and facebook statuses all over the world. Usually with an album this amazing, I am almost always disappointed with the closing track. I usually feel it does not offer a satisfying conclusion to something so amazing. Life in Your Way once again avoided my disappointment with The Ascension. I was pleasantly surprised once the song began and I head the stunning voice of Ascend the Hill’s Joel Davis take the forefront to music that sounds like something AtH would do on one of their songs. The Ascension ends instrumentally with light percussion and bells accompanied by Davis’s soft “ooohs” which all build into a powerful conclusion.
OK, so I have finished gushing all over “Kingdoms”. Please forgive me if you do not share my love in the band or the release. While I do not give many bands 10s, I believe that Life in Your Way have created a solid, front to back release that will be steadily played on my iPod for years to come. All my doubts in the band regaining momentum from their break up have now been relieved and now I can go back to singing my favorite gang vocal parts, but this time in sheer joy as opposed to sadness.