With "Iron Gag" it won't take long for the cynics and detractors to rechristen A Life Once Lost as A Lamb Of God Once Lost. But while A Life Once Lost have always had a problem with idol worship (see 2005's "Hunter" and its Meshuggah obsession;) they've also managed to overcome such shortcomings by distilling the larger elements into groove-heavy trauma so primal and menacing that it can't be denied.
Once again, this is pretty much the case as A Life Once Lost keep a deceptively simple momentum to their material. But while "Iron Gag" sports the densest amount of layering and most intricate songwriting the band have unleashed yet, it avoids being pretentious. Sure the added vocal production and direction from Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe may give the wrong impression to a few, but there are some chances taken here that help the band retain an identity of their own.
Chockfull of thrashy riffs, a scant few melodic vocals and a lot of ambiance and build-up their previous albums lacked; these boys have finally found the proper infrastructure to connect the gloriously heavy breakdowns they were missing prior. However, one has to wonder if they were playing a bit too much "Guitar Hero II" in the studio as the bridge in "The Wanderer" mimics "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas to an amusing degree.
The fact alone that the band are now treading in what would once be foreign territory does show that they are growing into their own entity. But for as enjoyable as this release is and as much of an advancement it is over their past material songwriting wise; it's still hard to get past the similarities to other contemporary acts. For that alone it falls short of being a landmark release, but it still sits high atop the list of American modern metal albums put out in 2007.
(3.5 / 5)