I’ve been waiting for this album for about a year now. In fact, this record was highly anticipated in the dent/progressive metal scene. As far as I’m concerned, the album totally lives up to the hype and was worth the wait. The User Lives is essentially a virtual/internet band comprised of members from Nevada, Florida, and even Ireland. The core of the band, guitarist Charlie Carpenter, bassist Matthew Mudd, and drummer Jared Klein are all based in Reno, NV. They started the project back in 2014 but it wasn’t until bringing in vocalist Andrew Zink from Tampa, FL (who I’ve been a big fan of for many years while living in Tampa myself) and PJ McTiernan from Sligo, Ireland on electronics/programming that the ball really got rolling. Zink came to prominence as songwriter/co-vocalist of Love At Last (formerly known as Akeldama) who dropped a huge debut back in 2013. He and PJ also have a blackened death metal side project called Into Infernus. Having been a fan of almost anything they put their names to, I was itching to get a hold of this album, especially since Love At Last are working on their follow up to 2013’s Everything Beautiful. I need something to hold me over. That being said, The User Lives‘ self-titled debut is nothing short of stellar. Carpenter’s noodling leads are almost like a synth line. In fact, I had trouble telling if it was a guitar or not. They are smooth and melodic, then come to thick chugging rhythms. All backed by a combination of blastbeats from Klein and PJ’s atmospheric soundscapes. Those who are familiar with Zink’s high clean vocals won’t be disappointed. However, he shows us his he hasn’t lost his brutal gutturals either. The opener, “Stranded” starts us off with straight screams and blastbeats. Then it melts into lush electronics, pianos, under perfectly executed guitar work. Zink’s soaring clean lines are reminiscent of his work with Akeldama/Love At Last, but they’re written differently. You can hear more non-metal influence in the melodies. Actually, you can hear a lot of emo/post-hardcore. Bits of bands like Copeland, Mae, and Saosin all popped in my head when listening to songs like “Holding Hope” or “The Wave That Pulled Us Under”. One of the interesting things on this album is “Sakura”. Its really only a 2 minute interlude, but its a smooth trance-influenced electronic number that is a great breather between the songs and quite frankly, it is just good on its own. The whole band are excellent technical musicians and it clearly shows. They also know how to properly blend and balance the brutality with the melody and waves of emotion that ebb and flow with each song. The User Lives has been in my iPod rotation since it dropped and every time I listen to it, I hear something i missed buried just under the surface. That’s the kind of record I ache for. I’ve kept Akeldama’s Everything Beautiful in regular rotation for 4 years…I have a feeling this is going to join them for the long haul.
Top Tracks: “Holding Hope”, “The Wave That Pulled Us Under”, “Valkyr”
About the band: The User Lives is an online project that was established in December 2014, consisting of members Andrew Zink, Charlie Charpentier, Matthew Mudd, PJ McTiernan, and Jared Klein. After long anticipation, the band is releasing it’s debut album on the 06/05/2017 through Hollowed Records