Review: Lifes – Treading Water (Here and Now!, Jun 28)

Fans of the aptly named subgenre “powerviolence” will be familiar with the fact that even this more specific area of hardcore can be further parsed into various styles and scenes, whether it’s the classic thrash-infused West Coast sound (faithfully documented by the wonderful Power Violence Project), the thunderous, throaty crust punk of bands like Dead in the Dirt, or the adventurous psychedelia infusions of Gasp and Stapled Shut. Ultimately, though, the unifying factor is that feeling of suffocating, crushing weight, something that Lifes absolutely nail with their debut LP Treading Water. The band whips up an astounding racket considering that it only consists of two members, and the absence of guitar allows the crunching bass to bathe the breakneck punk explosions in oppressive, all-consuming low end. I started off by identifying some of the commonly recognized sects of powerviolence because Lifes seem to draw from them all. There’s fast-paced d-beat gallops, spazzy grind blasts, sludge breakdowns, brief moments of anthemic melody, and it’s often embellished with harsh electronic inflections that add even more layers to the already dense cacophony of anger. At around 23 minutes total, Treading Water is a furious and concise statement from a promising band.

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