Leach – Lovely Light of Life Review

In one of my very first reviews after being officially added to the Angry Metal Guy staff, my plan to preemptively punish myself with metalcore was foiled by my inability to not like metalcore. Well, “metalcore” may be a bit of a misleading label when it comes to Leach, because 2019’s Hymns for the Hollow found them employing a sound that reminded me a lot of the groovy melodic death/thrash style currently employed by their fellow Swedes in The Crown and The Haunted. That “core” label probably gets leveled at these guys because their songs tend to have more of a commercial tinge and because vocalist Markus Wikander uses hardcore shouts that can veer into “screamy” territory at times. Long story short: Hymns of the Hollow won me over with its simple-but-effective formula. But follow-up Lovely Light of Life is finding me two years older and two years wiser, and there’s no way I’ll fall for Leach’s charms again. Right?

Well, to quote Professor Colonel Sanders in that classic Adam Sandler film, The Waterboy: “Mama’s wrong again!” Not much has changed in the Leach camp since 2019, although the band have leaned even further into their self-proclaimed “thrash ‘n’ roll” style. Lovely Light of Life is littered with thick grooves a la The Haunted, and the polished sheen on the record puts them in the same ballpark as their heroes in Soilwork. And wouldn’t ya know it, lead “single” (but also bonus track?) “D.O.D.” happens to feature Björn “Speed” Strid on guest vocals. I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite track on the album, so I’ve opted instead to include the video for proper album opener “Serenade (For the Broken Brave)” below. After a brief interlude track introduces it, “Serenade” launches forth with some melodic leads over chunky riffs, and when the growled chorus arrives, I can’t help but make a fist and lip-sync along. Not even the banal, Five Finger Death Punch-level ” aw, keep walking, punk!” that shows up near the end can ruin the song for me, and it’s a great tune to set things off.

The track list on Lovely has some decent variety, although I’m partial to the heavier moments. “Carry the Stigma” fades in with a tasty groove, but then settles into more of a radio rock style, revealing Leach’s desire to play heavy music that’s high on accessibility. “Scorched Earth Tactics” beefs things up a bit with some true thrash riffing and one of the album’s few breakdowns, and “Vultures” sounds like it could take up residency on a The Haunted record. True album closer “Sweet Blasphemy” is the first song to push past 4:30 in run-time, and it’s a brooding, yet heavy way to close things out. The aforementioned “D.O.D.” follows on its heels, and it’s wise for the band to call it a bonus track because its upbeat attitude feels out of place when “Sweet Blasphemy” closes with a long fadeout, giving the sense of finality. Not counting “D.O.D.”, Lovely Light of Life is ten proper tracks and 41 minutes long, a perfectly digestible package of grooviness.

The production is super loud and modern, but that’s exactly what Leach is going for with the record. I have a feeling that many of our readers will be put off by the combination of styles used here, but I’m actually impressed at the way the band is able to be both catchy and heavy without relying on the many standard metalcore tropes that typically drive metalheads crazy. Not only can these guys write riffs and melodies, they also know how to create tension and atmosphere while still being able to keep the songs short in length — a skill that many bands could stand to emulate.

Leach’s melodic death-thrash-groove-punk-core isn’t the kind of thing I reach for often, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t wvrm itself into my brain whenever I give it a chance to do so. With Lovely Light of Life, the band has proven that they’re on a roll when it comes to creating accessible heavy music.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Brutal Records
Websites: leachswe.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/leachswe
Releases Worldwide: May 21st, 2021

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