There is a town in Pennsylvania were a majority of the inhabitants get jobs at a local factory, and stay there for life. They are known as the “lifers.” The band Lifer did not just get their name from this desolate and hopeless sector of the population from which they came from, but also their attitude and strength. Beyond the music is a story about a band that beat the odds, and in the process became Pennsylvania’s answer to Linkin Park and Incubus.
Lifer began only two years ago, as a cover band by the name of Strangers With Candy. But their lives would change forever the day they decided to compete in MTV’s Ultimate Cover Band Contest. With a hyper and boisterous rendition of Limp Bizkit‘s hit “Nookie,” Lifer not only went on to win the contest, but also garnered the attention of several record companies, out to find the next platinum nu-metal band. “Our lives changed overnight,” claims lead singer Nick Coyle, “playing 45 seconds of another band’s song.” Republic/Universal won the war and signed Lifer. Legendary Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson accepted the offer to produce the promising band, and the recording process was ready to begin. They soon holed themselves up at Longview Farms in rural Massachusetts, where bands such as Limp Bizkit, Creed, Aerosmith, and The Rolling Stones had previously recorded. The result was a collection of super-catchy, yet hard-hitting tunes, primed for the airwaves of the nation.
The self-titled CD begins with a song called “My Room,” which immediately introduces Coyle’s extremely versatile and emotional vocals to the world. It can be described as a poppy, metal-derived tune. Most of the songs, such as “Ugly,” “New,” “Disbelief,” and “Blurred,” are melodic, alterna-pop creations with a metal twist and turntable trickery. One of my faves is the bouncy, body-moving rap-metal song called “Boring,” which is about the ugly separation of two friends who have grown apart.
Among the more radio-friendly tunes are the songs “Breathless” and “No Need,” the latter featuring highly sincere lyrics, such as “Don’t lie to me/ I’ve already lied to myself.” The song “Parade” is a hip-hop/metal hybrid that will make you think the band has been blessed with a Scott Weiland collaboration. Not true, but maybe one day, guys. If Limp Bizkit can do it, so can you.
Although Lifer is reminiscent of many bands, they never cease to amaze the listener with the depth of their music. From the jarring and strident tune “Heave,” which is very Pantera-esque, to the powerful and sexually charged ballad “Swallow,” Lifer’s music is drenched with the kind of raw emotion and passion missing from many of today’s bands. “Not Like You,” an honest and sentient song about being different and not fitting in, features such potent lyrics as “I know I’m no Jesus Christ/ But I’m no different than you.”
The album ends with a heavy-hearted acoustic song that is cleverly hidden 4 min. and 20 sec. after the last titled song. Why do I have the feeling that DJ Tony Kruszka, who thanks “4:20 and all the headz who are down”, was the one who thought of that?
The members of Lifer claim that their influences are Tool, Godsmack, the Deftones, and Faith No More. But listening to this CD (slated to be released later this summer), it is clear that those “lifers,” working in that factory in Pennsylvania, also played a large part in inspiring and driving this determined and raucous crew.