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Album Review: Life Pilot - 'Too Hot For Killing'

11 October 2017 | 9:18 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

This be some gnarly shit, son.

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Don't you just love it when you can take one listen to a band's music and pinpoint exactly what artists that they've had on high rotation lately or as youngins?

In the case of (R)Adelaide's Life Pilot, their sound shows off a strong love for the collective records of Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, The Chariot, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Almost exclusively it seems. So much so that 'Too Hot For Killing' at times feels like a mere checklist of that particular flavour of swagger-filled, balls-to-the-wall hardcore. Tight, mathy rhythms, groovy bass lines, and dissonant jagged guitars deeply soak their respectively heavy selves into the pores of this new EP's six songs, all of which are guided along by the crazed screams and aggressive shouts of vocalist Angus Long; detailing pained moments of deep anger, internal rage, personal loss, depression, and bittersweet romance. (The latter of which seems to be a close personal topic that's spurned on much of this EP's lyrical content and themes).

The intensive hardcore haymaker that is opener 'One' - fittingly named after it's actual length - wastes zero time in establishing the hectic sounds detailed above. In that regard, it's arguably the EP's finest song; a suitably short but brutally sweet sonic kick to the teeth upon first stepping foot into the storied saloon that is 'Too Hot For Killing'. 'One' is the kind of song that you know is going to see all manner of crazy shit go down when performed live too - something that Life Pilot have become very well known for in their time together. Likewise, songs like 'Defy' and 'Knife Box' - which both go for much longer than a single minute - drop all pleasantries and see the group doubling down on their much-loved groovy hardcore sound and discordant riffs. Something these guys really excel at, much like their fellow Aussie peers in Junkhead and DriveTime Commute.

However, the only real drawback with this EP is that it falls under a style that has been long perfected. Plus, if you are a big fan of the four American bands I mentioned earlier (like yours truly is), then what Life Pilot have to offer here isn't that different, nor that original or that special. Now, that's not to say that'Too Hot For Killing' is awful, average or even that it's not worth your time. On the contrary, it's a good EP and it most certainly is worth your damn time! It's just that I personally have a handful of other go-to bands and releases that can and will satisfyingly scratch my itch for such hardcore tunes well before I arrive at Life Pilot's name. And I sure ain't going to indulge in the idea that you can't have too much of a good thing, cause that's some bullshit right there.

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Of course, there is a couple of musical switch-ups Life Pilot apply to help alleviate some of these comparisons and keep their new EP's proceedings fresh. Like how the school choir gang vocals that backdrop the romantically angry and scathing 'Next Question' by creating a call-and-response with Long at one point, and by singing what is perhaps the song's most interesting lyric, "R-E-D-R-O-S-E-S/Who’s been painting the flower bed?" (While not as cool, the gang vocals on 'Knife Box' later on in the EP are also a high point). Or like when the band add in clean vocals, synth strings, softer sections filled with snare rolls, and major key guitar melodies to the lengthy title track; making them sound far more like Hellions 'Opera Oblivia'-era rather than an ETID or TDEP clone in the process. (And on this particular song's length, it's nearly six-minutes long but thankfully, Life Pilot change things up just enough to justify its near overblown length).

Basically, Life Pilot's sound exists in two different spaces. For the sake of my argument, one space is called "Hardcore Music 101" and the other space we'll just title "Literally Any Other Sound And Musical Idea". Now, this band have clearly mapped out every single square inch of the former, yet I find there's still plenty of room to expand and grow within the confines of the latter.

Do with that info what you will.

Here's a simple question for ya: how do you create a familiar yet still solid EP without breaking any new ground for your band's genre? Life Pilot's new EP 'Too Hot For Killing' is exactly how! Fans of Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, The Chariot, and The Dillinger Escape Plan need only sign their name in at the door.

1. One

2. Defy

3. Bystander

4. Too Hot For Killing

5. Next Question

6 Knife Box

'Too Hot For Killing' is out Friday, October 13th. Pre-order it here or don't - no skin off my back either way.