Right away, Never Asked For Heaven drags you into inescapable riffage, the opening track “Introduction” setting the scene for a waves of breakdowns that sound like the armies of Hell bursting through the gates.
Vocalist Andy Voorhees certainly has combat on the mind — Bent Life brandishes track titles like “War” and “Stab Me.” Voorhees is occasionally joined by classic gang vocals yelling tough words like “REFUSE!” and “I CAN’T WIN!” He snarls his plans: burning everything to ash, without help, and never talking to anyone again.
Especially in a track like “War” the pounding beats sound like an orcish drumline plodding steadily over vast plains into the unsuspecting land of feeble men, relentless tom work and four on the floor kick keeping the siege-like guitars and bass disciplined.
Four releases, two labels, and six years after its formation, Lincoln hardcore mainstay Bent Life finally dropped its first full-length album, Friday, July 29, at the Reverb Lounge. The debut album comes (officially, Friday, Aug 5) from hardcore label Bridge 9 Records, to whom the band signed to early last year.
Bridge 9’s website describes Brock Stephens’ and Chris Miller’s guitar playing as “Pantera groove,” an accurate description. Hugely distorted chords ring over verses when they aren’t being getting the djent kicked out of them during the palm-muted hooks. Bent Life’s style is definitely on the metal side of hardcore, but the guitar players seem to disregard solos or overly intricate riffs. Why bother when you can have another breakdown?
The album has a complete, well-planned feeling to it. It doesn’t meander or lose focus. Never Asked For Heaven is a diamond drill boring through the center of a mountain, single-minded and unwavering. “Permanence” adds to the album’s completeness by using the same ripper riff that opened the wound of the album to stitch it back together. “Permanence” is also the only track to use a clean guitar in any fashion, if only for a minute.
Other track highlights include “Kick”, where Nick Miller’s opening bass line is one of the catchiest parts of the album. “Thanks For Nothing” reps a “Negative Creep” style guitar hook and anguished gang vocals yelling out the title. A rerecording of the title track from the band’s March 2015 single release “Cheat Death” brings out the best of bad feelings. It’s a hardcore odyssey that feels like an album on it’s own, stretching out over four minutes.
Overall, Never Asked For Heaven is an evil album that might scare your family members. Breakdown after breakdown will crash any normie party. Bring a helmet and knee pads when listening. Beatdown hardcore that doesn’t stop for a breather. A 30-minute testament to maximum aggression. No one’s getting out of this alive.
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