It seems like deathcore is coming back a bit, doesn’t it? There’s a bit of pizazz to the genre with the wild vocal acrobatics, low-and-slow breakdowns, and some of the lowest, heaviest tunings in the heavy music space. All of this makes for great fodder for reaction videos and bringing in new ears simply based on just how extreme deathcore can be and while there’s nothing wrong with this per se, there are plenty of perspectives out there that downplay the genre’s importance and relevance. To the earlier point, however, the genre is seeing a resurgence mostly due to just how much quality deathcore is rising to the top and renewed interest in what many have considered a bit of a black sheep within the greater context of metal. Enter Lost to the Void. This San Jose, California have returned with their sophomore LP and it’s 14 tracks of their take on death metal-meets-deathcore approach that showcases the technicality that unifies those two genres but with the atmosphere that favors the latter.
Mixing these styles is by no means novel and plenty of bands have attempted and succeeded in doing this in the past and just how much that success attracts you as a listener is obviously completely up to taste. What does help set Lost to the Void apart is that they are focusing on the best parts of both genres and bringing them together to create a sound that is fairly unique and generally always works out. Death metal grooves abound on Embrace in Disgust from “The Mirror” to “Jaded”; there is plenty here for fans of groovy, technical death metal to sing their teeth into. Muscular riffing from the guitars is a highlight throughout the record and while the drums do feel a little further back in the mix than your typical death metal fare, they are ever present and still feel appropriate. In fact, for those that aren’t fully a fan of the typical deathcore approach, this will more than likely be a welcome revelation.
Where Embrace in Disgust feels like it generally swerves into a more deathcore approach is the vocals. Low gurgle breakdowns, high-low layers pepper the track listing and vitriolic wretches make their way into some tracks such as “Millimeter from Murder” which is a dizzying and swirling track that features some excellent bass acrobatics and some of the most harrowing atmosphere on the record. Adam Warren of Oceano joins on “A Welcomed Plague” and if you’re going to get a vocal feature in this space, Adam is the one to get. This track while it can feel a little too in step with the deathcore zeitgeist, is a heavy on symphonics and blast beats but the vocal frenzy that we’re treated to is one of the most memorable moments on the album and one that should be seen as a feather in the band’s cap.
With this many songs on the album, it is more than likely expected that not all of them will be the same quality. While it has been a few years since their last LP, 14 songs is a lot for any record, especially one with the level of intensity as the music presented on Embrace in Disgust. While most songs on the record clock in around the expected four to five minutes in length, “Sally” clocks in at just over 11 minutes and while this is a courageous idea and quite the risk to embrace, it does slow the second half of the record down quite a bit, on top of adding quite a bit of length to the album as a whole. While the song has a lot of vocal diversity, the clean vocals aren’t executed at a level that would make this song seem essential for inclusion in the album. The vocal issues also appear in “Poppy Place” and while there is a certain level of charm to them, a little more refinement could have improved their impact.
There are some rousing moments on Embrace In Disgust that come along and brighten the listening experience and often it’s the more straightforward tracks that get the band firing on all cylinders. “Capital Punishment”, “Idyllic Dissention”, and “Deadweight” all do a great job of showcasing Lost to the Void’s ability to absolutely crush it. While some of the experimentation on the record is welcome, the songs that flirt with new ideas rather get in long-term relationships with them are the ones that hit the hardest and are the most rewarding to list to over and over again.
Bottom Line: The blending of death metal and deathcore is a fun endeavor and there are times on Embrace in Disgust when Lost to the Void manage to do this with panache. However, the overly experimental tracks - while admirable in concept- often slow the album down just when it feels like it’s finding its footing. This is a technically talented band that can riff with the best of them, but sadly that can get overshadowed by a bloated track listing and some lackluster vocal performances that can quickly take the listener out of the experience. Lost to the Void show some genuine flashes of creativity and prowess that deserves to be heard and celebrated, but let’s hope that there is a little more focus on whatever comes next.