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Left Behind Bare Their Bruised Soul On “Early Mourning”


Hardcore is an arms race. Maybe it’s because the genre is more youth-oriented than metal, but hardcore always finds new ways to up the ante and send kids to the center of the pit. Breakdowns keep getting bigger, tones thicker, and the songs more viscerally physical. Each time the genre seems to have maxed out, some ingenious musicians will reach back into metal history and cherry-pick techniques to push hardcore into new territory. Xibalba drew from the sounds of old school death metal, Harm’s Way morphed to resemble the briefly reunited Celtic Frost, Code Orange dipped their toes into Helmet’s grimy gutter water on their last album, and Left Behind bridge the gap between Crowbar’s burly doom and modern hardcore.

Traces of “big guy doom” showed up on Left Behind’s 2016 debut Seeing Hell, but the West Virginia band bring the beef to the forefront on their new single “Early Mourning.” The song takes the laid back NOLA doom sound, blues inflection and all, and injects it with nitro.

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This cross-genre communication doesn’t require much translation. If anything, Left Behind are speaking the same language with just a minor difference in slang and dialect. Hardcore and metal have always been conjoined twins, sharing vital organs and nutrients throughout their evolution. In the case of “Early Mourning,” the expressive sludge riffs are bolstered by thundering breakdowns instead of the harmonized leads. Their music more physical, direct, and punishing, but in their aim to air out human suffering Left Behind aren’t so different from a band like Crowbar. “‘Early Mourning’ is about when I lost my mind and literally thought I was in hell and came to terms with it,” says singer Zach (Left Behind, like many hardcore bands, are a “first name only” affair).

Taken on its own, that description might not mean much to you, but give the song another listen. What makes Left Behind stand out in a field of tough guy hardcore bands mining the sounds of decades past is that they are viscerally, uncomfortably, open about their pain. Zach’s voice is a muscular roar, but one that doesn’t hide the agony that caused it. He allows himself to sound human in order to highlight the extremity of his circumstances. This isn’t macho posturing, it’s a bloodletting.

Blessed By The Burn will be released on October 27th via Unbeaten. Follow Left Behind on Facebook.

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