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Band Biographies: LIFES

RIYL: Dropdead, From Ashes Rise, Spazz, Los Crudos, Iron Lung, Man is the Bastard, Assuck, Unruh, Water Torture, The Locust

What does it mean to be truly aggressive? Is it volume, emotion, speed? Some combination of these may be the case, but here and now, aggressive music has in some ways lost its focus. Perhaps it’s in the prioritizing of commerce and status over art, or the result of an inability to move beyond being a mere carbon copy of something that already exists. The sheer amount of aggressive acts playing substandard and generally forgettable music is higher than ever, largely due to bands having no purpose beyond simply being a band. We scream to express ourselves-our frustration, our anger, our fear-but in an age where screaming tutorial videos and triggered drums are commonplace, one cannot help but be a bit concerned by the watering down of aggressive music.

Milwaukee’s LIFES have nothing to do with any of that. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Dave Rudnik and drummer/vocalist Zak Holochwost, the duo have spent the last two decades as members of some of the underground’s finest acts-from Seven Days of Samsara and Kung Fu Rick to People Again and Conquest for Death, respectively. Surely, the idea of a guitar-less duo may prompt some to wonder if LIFES are a novelty of sorts, but there are no gimmicks here. There are no weightroom-ready breakdowns. There are no attempts at melodicism. There are no walls of expensive boutique amplification. Remove all the bullshit that wasn’t there in the first place and you’re left with what many lack -- great songs and great performances, delivered with complete honesty and and extreme force.

Their debut album Treading Water, slated for release on June 28, 2019, builds on what the band has been developing over the last few years. Engineered and mixed at Howl Street Recordings by Shane Hochstetler, Treading Water is not only a portrait of a band that has a clear vision of what they wish to achieve, it’s a portrait of them achieving it in spades. It’s a reclamation of what is ours.

The album’s title comes with a larger significance than many, and it’s best left up to the band themselves to explain it.

“On our demo, I wrote something about how there isn’t enough time in the day and we’re killing ourselves to maintain all of our different ‘lives’ says Rudnik. “That feeling has been amplified by 1000 for me since then, in having more kids, realizing we are getting old, health and financial issues and frustrations with work. I feel like I am failing at most of it and it weighs on me and pulls me down even further."

“I’ve also come to see Treading Water as the moment we all find ourselves in socially and politically,” says Holochwost. “None of these themes are new. Certainly POC, LGBTQ+, women, etc. have all been dealing with what is now all in our faces throughout the world for a very, very long time. Though the world is seemingly treading water, I think more people are now aware of how awful we all treat each other. Yet, we have more positive things happening as a reaction to that awfulness. There’s a lot of inspiring moments that are not just found in photocopied zines anymore. There are pockets of great things happening that are attempting to keep the world’s head above water. The goal is to get us all above the water, both figuratively and literally.”

The specific political climate is not the entire focus of Treading Water, though. The album also touches on the more personal side of modern life, drawing on themes of family and existential dread. Rudnik more succinctly sums up the album’s lyrical themes with simply “shitty people, death, and kids."

It’s difficult to label LIFES with a singular genre tag, as they blur the lines of metal, hardcore and powerviolence to create something that is incredibly forceful and potent. Every Sabbath-worshipping simpleton wishes they were this heavy, but this is something else entirely,
powerful enough to destroy a building. Fans of classic acts like Dropdead will certainly find plenty to love about “Treading Water”, though echoes of later acts like Talk is Poison and The Crimson Curse can also be heard across the album’s 18 tracks.

 Triple Eye Industries, Middle Man Records, Knochen Tapes and Here and Now! Records are proud to bring you the release of Treading Water. Beautifully wrapped in the art of Brandon Bauer, Dave Rudnik, and   Jorge Tapia, and mastered with precision by Justin Perkins at Mystery Room Mastering, the album is slated for release on June 28.

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