- by Nate Hennon
For some time I have been kicking around this theory that bands work in three album creative cycles. In the case of Rancid, this cycle starts with a brand new direction (Self-Titled #1 & “Life Won’t Wait”). Followed by a harder, faster second album (“Let’s Go” & Self-Titled #2). And is finished off with a very pop sensible album (“…And Out Come the Wolves” & “Indestructible”). Independently corroborated by the hilarious podcast, “U Talkin’ U2 to Me?”, U2 works in a similar cycle. Unlike Rancid, U2 focuses on one style of music for a three-album cycle then shifts to something else for the fourth. I say this because letlive’s latest album, “If I’m The Devil…”, could be considered a departure from the band’s pre-established sound or the beginning of their next cycle. I think it is the latter.
Much like a Game of Thrones episode, “If I’m The Devil…” covers death, murder, greed, religion and abuse of power. However, the truly captivating part of this album is Jason Aalon’s vocals. Unlike the vocals on their previous albums, which were aggressive and frenetic, Aalon’s vocals throughout "If I'm the Devil..." are robust and haunting. In addition, letlive’s use of driving rhythms, disjointed guitars, and harmonious keys conjures an image of post-“Art of Drowning” AFI. “I’ve Learned To Love Myself,” “Nü Romantics” and “Good Mourning, America” could easily be part of the Modern Goth Punk's discography.
Much like my personal relationship with AFI, I do not think the casual letlive fan will embrace this album right away. It may be too far off the beaten path to hold their attention and fandom. Nevertheless, as a newbie to the world of letlive, there is an ever-present charm that cuts through the heaviness and that made this listener want to experience the album over-and-over.