Metal=Life Volume II
by Hansel Merchor
Say what you want about Hot Topic, mall metal, and hardcore, the truth of the matter is the emporium has played an important role in the frenetic growth of hard music’s market share in the last few years. Because of that, loyalists who’d like their shit to remain underground and among the loyal few will puke at the mere sight of this three disc (2CD/1DVD) compilation. But we have to see the other side: With growing sales come greater opportunities for underground bands and small independent labels willing to get their acts out there.
Available exclusively through Hot Topic, Metal = Life 2 features some of the best and worst metal and hardcore acts of today. The two CDs pack a bulky 38 tracks and run from the ultra lame (Escape The Fate), and the quasi-horrible (Calico System), to the obvious (In Flames), the blackened (Dissection, Goatwhore), the just plain ordinary (Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada), the influential (Converge), the outstanding (The Jonbenet) the funny ha-ha (Every Time I Die), the interesting (Burst), the dull (Misery Index, This is Hell), the copycats (Demiricous, Nights Like These) and the typical (God Forbid, The Autumn Offering).
The same can be said about the DVD: Compressing 18 videos, we get a wide range of hard acts, each displaying a wide array of quirks, looks, and sounds. God Forbid are up first with the patriotic we love our troops video for the anthemic “To the Fallen Hero.” Next up is The Human Abstract, who make the best of limited resources with an interesting blend of math metal and prog rock. Then comes Bleeding Through, whose Saw-inspired video for “Love in Slow Motion” achieves mixed results, at best, In Flames who present us a really cool video for one of their worst cuts, “Come Clarity”, 3, who are featherweights musicwise with their proggy take on sci-fi rock (“Alien Angel”), and everyone’s favorite jokesters, Every Time I Die. Next is the undeniably influential Converge with an absolutely pummeling cut off their mighty Heroes (“Eagles Become Vultures”), Texas’ underrated sludge dudes, The Jonbenet, who not only drop one of the most interesting takes on whatever-core, but also, like The Human Abstract, show that you don’t need a big budget to offer quality product. The worst comes from Calico System, whose music is as typical and tedious as a third generation metalcore emo cocktail.
Needless to say, there’s a little bit of something for everyone here. There is indeed so much music crammed into such little space that not one hard music fan is left out. With 5% of the retail price heading to the Hot Topic Foundation (no, they don’t manufacture fishnet stocking and Goth make up, but support youth education in arts and music), we might now have another excuse to head to the local shopping mall.