Life on The Edge

Liferuiner has come a long way since its roots as a satirical joke band.

Formed in 2004 and based out of Toronto, Liferuiner was originally known as xLIFERUINERx, and boasted hateful lyrics, sludgy breakdowns and provocative song names like “I Don’t Need to Be Straight Edge to Be Better Than You.” Their original EP demo in 2004 was even titled, Are You Offended Yet?

The “straight edge” subculture that Liferuiner is a part of was a response to the recklessness of the punk scene, and its followers are known for sporting “X”s on their hands and abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and promiscuous sex. The seemingly pure values do nothing to tone down the ferocity of the music—in fact, the band overcompensates.

xLIFERUINERx’s first album, No Saints, was a distorted rampage that made little attempt at musical clarity or skill, and instead focused on brutality and outrageousness. With a ridiculous name and even more outlandish songs, their popularity swelled—in essence, they were so bad they were good.

The transformation from the original xLIFERUINERx’s anti-music to their current, more respectable chops is staggering. The band went on hiatus from 2008 to 2011 and underwent a line-up overhaul upon their return, with only the vocalist, Jonny O’Callaghan remaining as an original member. O’Callaghan took the band’s style in a more positive direction, shifting genres into melodic hardcore, and released the Sons of Straight Edge EP in December 2011, with many fans not believing their ears, myself included.

Liferuiner, 2013 edition, claim on their website to represent “a strong message of equality, integrity, and passion.”

Their new album, Future Revisionists, was released June 4, and they have been touring Canada in support of it. The album opener, “Vacant,” shows the band’s softer side (well, as soft as they get) with a post-metal slow-burner, featuring echo-chamber-like screams over a melodic guitar riff reverbing away.

Music video for the first song of the album, “Vacant”

“Waivered Lives” opens with the line, “If only the dead have seen the end of war / then what the fuck are we fighting for?” The song dips into a jazzy interlude at one point and shows Liferuiner’s newly discovered versatility—the irony that was so palpable on the first records is completely replaced by genuine songwriting.

“Savages” is a 98-second machine gun to the ears, a tribute to the hard and fast ways of punk rock, while “Feeling/Meaning” is a mixed bag, featuring soaring and inspiring melodies, but also a misplaced dissonant nü-metal breakdown that could make even Fred Durst cringe.

Halfway through “Fissure,” the typical hardcore riffs melt into calm, flowing guitar licks that build momentum into a surging finale—reminiscent of “1990,” the standout track from the Sons of Straight Edge EP.

The pre-released single “Dreamcatcher” is a hardcore kid’s delight. Midway through, the song blazes through a 50-second pounding breakdown that seems specifically engineered for two-stepping and moshing––that is, a perfect song to be experienced live.

The ender of the album and my personal favorite, “Self-Purgatory,” opens with a tangled staticky riff and launches into a hammering breakdown from there. The twisting riff repeats and becomes a mantra of the song, underlying the chorus and materializing into its own brooding interlude towards the end and climaxing into an epic cinematic conclusion to the album.

Album closer, “Self-Purgatory”

In all, Liferuiner’s new album earns a 7.5/10 in this writer’s mind. The new style they began with Sons of Straight Edge, they finished with this record. The inspiring lyrics and catchy melodies are a major variation from the band’s original work, and the songwriting and production throw enough curveballs to rise above a mediocre hardcore album.

However, the surprises are not quite as frequent as they should be––other melodic hardcore albums such as Capture and Embrace by It Prevails or Changes by For the Fallen Dreams consistently wow listeners throughout every song. The song structures in Future Revisionists are often predictable and fall flat despite the genre-jumping, and that’s what keeps an otherwise good album from reaching greatness. Nonetheless, Liferuiner has indeed earned a “Most Improved” ribbon in my book.

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