Before We Fade Away boasts an album cover that’s both striking and evocative. The distance it represents is assumed through perception but the music it represents is as close as can be. Hailing from punk rock Mecca Richmond, VA, This Is Your Life make a debut worthy of their hometowns best.
I like punk rock with lead guitar. Lots of lead guitar. Twisting melodies that tease the barrier between the earthly and the demented. This Is Your Life feature some truly dynamic fretwork. The chaos, the frenetic melodies expressed within those speedy lines of notes represent punk rock in a new musical language, one that is every bit as valid as the one before it.
Before We Fade Away is melodic hardcore through and through, featuring both sides of the coin in equal measure. Tunefulness here however is expressed more through instrumentation than vocal melody. That being said, melodic woahs are present, and on “2905” they help sweeten some of the vitriolic hardcore. This Is Your Life primarily feature screamed vocals, lending the band a harder sound than most bands described with the prefix ‘melodic’. The barking shouts are something a throwback to the early days of punk, but they also serve as a grand reappropriation of one of the genre’s tropes. We’ve heard bands scream, we’ve heard them shout, we’ve heard them sing; and it could be argued that on this kind of album the gruff singing of modern punk is exactly what we would expect to hear; but what we get instead is something far closer to the spirit of old hardcore. The anger, the passion; released without the chains of technique. The voices of machines– and make no mistake, the musical instruments that surround the voice are nothing more– are allowed to be melodious, exact, and calculated. But the rough hewn cries that pierce through the music give it a sense of drive and humanity.
On “Purgatory,” This Is Your Life reveal a sense of control that hearkens back to early emocore. The majority of the song is road-runner-fast hardcore with melodic leads providing a skeleton to hang it all on, but the song’s most penetrating moment is a slowed down bridge that sounds like it could have been plucked out of a Rites of Spring song. It’s a heady moment that gives purpose to the speed that surrounds it. “Blackout Curtains” might just be the best song on Before We Fade Away. The fretwork is incredible– riff after riff, lick after lick hit the musical bulls eye, and the way the music works in tandem with the vocals is exhilarating. “Blackout Curtains” is This Is Your Life at their finest.
Melodic hardcore has been been genericized with oversaturation. This Is Your Life avoid doing impressions of the Epifat golden-age and instead cement the foundations of their own sound. Before We Fade Away features fantastic music and scream-your-lungs-out heart, sure to please any fan of fast, sweaty punk rock.