Death Metal, Deathgrind, Grindcore, Metal, Punk

Lifetaker – Der Letzte Raum (Review)

Bands: Lifetaker
Release: Der Letzte Raum
Genre: Grindcore, Deathgrind
Country: Germany (Dortmund)
Release Date:30th of September, 2022
Released viaLower Class Kids Records (Tape)
Black Omega Recordings (Vinyl)
Cover ArtworkVeronika Polonskaya

It is a pity! It definitely is a damn pity! We’re heading right into the month of October and Dortmund-based Deathgrind blasters Lifetaker are about to return with their sophomore full-length record – and I was hindered to even promote the release before it came out. I was aware that I needed to change that right from the spot, so here we are, just having finished 2022 and I’m in a rush to sufficiently deliver a review for one of the releases I was awaiting the most last year.

As stated already, we are talking about 5-member outfit Lifetaker readjusting attention towards their output with their second full-length release Der Letzte Raum. On their first full-length Night Intruder, Lifetaker showcased an incredibly strong combination of slow Deathgrind heaviness and fast Grindcore outbursts – continuously embellishing their tone with subtle introductions of other genres such as Black Metal or Metallic Hardcore. On the following EP Pit Viper, a certain amount of this sound was upheld and complemented with Punk and experimental Industrial elements, progressively derailing towards the end of the release. Since it was already possible to observe interesting development of the band’s sound, there was high pressure on what the following full-length would sound like.

Probably having been aware of the fact that listeners expected a shift of their sound, Lifetaker superseded the anticipation of broadening those Industrial elements of Pit Viper on a full-length level and conversely jump right into an entirely different sound. First and foremost, it becomes evident quite quickly that we experience a language switch from fully English lyrics to German songwriting. At first glance, this might seem of no further interest, since it is slightly difficult to understand any wording within the scope of those genres anyway. Wrong you are at that point, though. In my opinion, this is a drastic alteration especially when regarding what is to come on this album. Ten years ago, I might have disliked this decision because I was stuck in an “it always has to be English” mindset. Nowadays, however, I highly fancy all languages other than English in Metal because it adds a different drive to the sound. What drive you’re asking? We’re gonna come to that a little later.

When entering Der Letzte Raum, we are introduced to this full-length in a fashion that feels like a clear welcome back from previous releases. “Bunkerjugend” is just a mere fist punch right into your goddamn face, following the intensely heavy and Death-infused riffing and sound that coined the seminal character of Night Intruder. Pure hate compressed at high volume invading your ear canals. With the following track “Patrizidprotokoll” we are introduced to an entirely different sound, though, that also displays the huge difference regarding the progression of the sound on this release. This track kicks off with a sound pattern that can be somewhat located in the spheres of Punk and when the vocals kick in, it becomes clear that Lifetaker intend to merge their sound with a massive Raw Punk framework. On previous releases, one of the highlights of Lifetaker already was the versatility of the vocals as is underlined with this track again.

On “Patrizidprotokoll” we also get to know why the German lyrics mark a difference compared to the sound before. Especially in this Punk pattern, the German lyrics add up to construct this very raw and dirty vibe I highly associate with German Punk music. This track does not only remain within the range of Raw Punk, but also adds sequences of Grind and Deathgrind as well thus fully embracing it within the sound of Lifetaker – clearly marking an absolute highlight on this album!

Following this track, Lifetaker clearly want to show that they dispatch from their previous close connection to Deathgrind and Metallic Hardcore, finding more immediate association with OG Grind and the broad overarching sound of Punk. Nevertheless, we still get our straightforward Deathgrind tune on several tracks, such as “Fleischwolf” on which the track finishes with a thrashing “Bring back the nasty riff” sound. During those sequences that make use of strong blast beat sounds as on “Kehlbiss,” the pressure that is created reminds a lot of what Cannibal Corpse have been able to convey for decades now.

On the following tracks such as “Alpha Antichrist” as well as “Störfunk” and “Gottgeburt” the sound shifts towards a clear-cut Grindcore setting. Although it feels like Grind, especially because of the upheld high speed, the strongly dissonant riffing on the guitars reminds Converge dripped on a full-punk-level. On many tracks, especially the intended dissonance kicks me back into listening to Converge a lot. This nuance that is added to a sound I’d initially not connect to the aforementioned band compiles a sound that is highly memorable. The deep-dive into Punk spheres also finds reference on following tracks as well, such as “Kadaverstille” and “Blutopfer.” At other spots, the drums mark an interesting nuance when departing from the previously mentioned genres and also introducing patterns that remind of the stomps of War Metal on “Strafisolator” as well as “Tempelfaust.”

On this full-length, the progression of Pit Viper also finds resonance. Starting at the twelfth track “Schlafparalyse,” noisey soundscapes finely season the dissonant Grind sound of this album, again leading towards derailing the soundscape of what is happening. From that point on, noisey elements are added up to the tracks that are to come, once more leading this release towards chaos thus reminding of the progression of classical Sturm und Drang literature that seeks contemplation in chaos. On the final track “Gamma Mörser” we are right in the middle of mere noise chaos on a stomping, industrial rhythm with screams and whirring noises, eventually also leading this release towards absolute deformation.

Der Letzte Raum was released on tape as well as on vinyl and all of those releases definitely are worth owning. Tapes came out via Lower Class Kids Records and were available either via limited dyed version or regular version. The dyed release is sold-out already, unfortunately, but it is still possible to get the regular tape via Lower Class Kids Records. The vinyl version of this release came via Black Omega Recordings and is available via limited to 50 colored vinyl or limited to 100 transparent vinyl. Better make sure to be quick purchasing the edition you intend to own of this album!

As mentioned already, expectations were superseded once again. There is no doubt that Lifetaker still remain one of the absolute highlights in the German Metal underground scene. If it was not made clear already that I see several references towards Full of Hell, especially the versatility of reinventing the personal style is an element that reminds me the most of those aforementioned fellas. The approach towards the clearer Punk references is done incredibly convincing, still upholding what we liked about Lifetaker yet seeking for innovation in their music. Lifetaker once more showcase that they are capable to naturally produce releases that surprise you when listening to them for the first time. This is probably one of the most outstanding elements I associate with those guys from Dortmund – the element of surprise with upcoming releases – and a strong tendency towards reinvention of a personal sound.

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