Having run the risk of becoming modern US metal’s forgotten sons by disappearing for five years, A Life Once Lost need to make a splash with the follow-up to the criminally overlooked Iron Gag.
Ecstatic Trance represents the wholesale abandonment of its predecessor’s swamp-flecked groove and a move into fearlessly distinctive territory that combines a partial return to the polyrhythmic fury of 2003’s A Great Artist via a bleak, subtly psychedelic and unexpected post-punk sensibility.
Guitarist Douglas Sabolick has outdone himself. These are songs underpinned by flailing, grotesque riffs that churn and grind as vocalist Robert Meadows flings out his scarred-throat barbs.
At their most immediate on pulverising opener Something Awful and the lurching Madness Is God, wickedly abstruse on the nihilistic fidget of Miracle Worker and grimly dramatic on the metronomic Empty Form, the Philadelphians have dared to think outside the usual metal box and ended up sounding both wildly original and obscenely exciting.