Life Long Tragedy – Runaways

4 out of 5

Label: Deathwish

Produced by: Roger Tschann

This one caught me off guard.  I was ready to dismiss this as ‘just another Deathwish album,’ meaning some hardcore punk and some good ol’ throaty yelling; quality stuff, but better if you’re from whichever given band’s hometown and saw ’em live.  Roger Tschann’s production initially came across as rather flat, and after some notable energy in the openers, I felt like I was just hearing a single volume of shouting.

The closing title track is where it turned around a little bit.  At five minutes, it’s a bit longer than the 2-3 minute runtimes elsewhere, and that space is used for some breakdowns, which let me listen to the lyrics a bit closer.  There are certainly a lot of Fucks going on, and the subject matter – life sucks – isn’t wholly original, but there was passion in how those fucks about life sucking were being shouted, and inbetween, a lot of interesting thoughts and ways to illustrate that concept.

On another playthrough, I start to hear all the different tempos the group was hitting, shifting back and forth between punk pacing and hardcore riffing and some nice breakdowns linking it all, and breaking it up pretty damn smartly.  Tschann’s production was a boon – it lets all of this stuff sit on a flat level where it blends together, sure, which makes it less notable on that first listen, but once you’re hooked in, it’s the right sound: it’s organic; it allows it to shred together, surging and flowing and putting you right in the mix, remembering these feelings from when you were young and your life sucked too, only you weren’t able to express yourself as powerfully as Life Long Tragedy…