Following the hiatus of Australia's I Killed the Prom Queen in 2008, vocalist Michael Crafter continued on his legacy with a new band. Confession, which has released an EP and two full-length albums to date, has went through quite a few lineup changes in such a short time. The most notable change came in mid-2012 when Crafter was very briefly kicked out of the band. In an interesting – and extremely comical – turn of events, Crafter decided to take matters into his own hands and kick every other member out of Confession then went on a search for new band members. With the release of Life and Death just around the corner, the band seems to have found another lineup that works – at least for now.
If you've listened to Confession (or other similiar metalcore bands from Australia, like Hand of Mercy or In Hearts Wake) in the past, you should be familiar with most of the instrumental work on Life and Death. The guitar work is pretty standard, though the combination of groovy riffs and spinechilling leads on "The Forgotten" is very impressive, as is the majority of "Hollow" and "Death." The breakdowns are full of punch, but they become a bit mundane as the album goes along. Everything else is stellar, though; the album's lead single, "Fuck Cancer" – which is a contender for the most heartfelt, relatable song to come out of the metalcore genre in a while – is probably one of the weakest tracks on the album, but I still enjoy it and its infectious chorus.
The drummer shines fairly bright on this album, as there are several fast-paced, high-energy verses that display some serious skill. Additionally, the fill around the 1:40 mark of "51-73" and the fills throughout "Holy War" in particular always grab my attention. Another thing that I really enjoyed is that the band makes use of some very fitting strings on "March 23" – which would be a mediocre song otherwise – and a few other tracks over the course of this 32-minute-long album. If I had to pick one song on Life and Death that really stands out, it would be "The Forgotten." There is so much going on at times, especially when the strings come in around the midway point of the track, but it doesn't sound messy at all.
The most impressive aspect of the album would have to be the vocals. On "Still Breathing" (and a few other tracks), there were times that I thought a guest vocalist made an appearance because of Crafter's wide range and change in style. That being said, there are a few guest vocalists near the end of the album; "Old Blood" and "51-73" feature some compatriots of Confession in Adrian Fitipaldes (Northlane) and Joel Birch (The Amity Affliction), and Karl Schubach (Misery Signals) plays an integral role in making "Fear" another one of my personal favourites. "Holy War" supposedly features Ahren Stringer (also of The Amity Affliction), but the only part that seems like it may be a guest vocalist is the extremely heavy part near the end. If that is the case, Stringer should be fronting a deathcore band.
I was surprised that there were no clean vocals (aside from the gang vocals at the end of "Fuck Cancer") on this album, as I really enjoyed the choruses of The Long Way Home's "Confused/Hopeless" and "Die to Live." I was hoping to hear at least one song similar to either of those because the inclusion of some clean-vocal parts could have added just a bit more variety that Life and Death would truly benefit from. As I mentioned, the breakdowns become pretty stale after repeated listens; rather than several breakdowns, I think the occasional clean-vocal chorus could have very well made some of these songs go from very good to incredible.