You know how a few records into a band's career, you'll read an article about them and it'll talk about their early years in a dismissive way? Sorta like this: "their first album, "Blah Blah Blah", generated some interest, but it wasn't until sophomore release "Yadda Yadda Yadda" that they really turned some heads and came into their own".
Well, Midwestern metal kids ISCARIOT are at the "Blah Blah Blah" stage of their career. It can't possibly be a coincidence that the opening track on "Lifeless Design" is called "The Gates of the Flames" — their metal draws heavily on both AT THE GATES and IN FLAMES at their peaks, with a walloping dose of current American metal trends mixed into the brew for maximum violence. This is one album where we could scan in the sticker on the front of the jewel case and it'd be a pretty complete review: "for fans of LAMB OF GOD, THE RED CHORD, UNEARTH, DARKEST HOUR."
So why should you care? For one thing, ISCARIOT is a hungry, hard-working band — they moved over 2000 copies of their demo playing shows all over the place before they were signed. More importantly, despite being completely derivative at this stage in their development, they've got energy and a lethal focus. "Lifeless Design" is a nonstop barrage of death metal riffs, melodic guitar trills, harsh and painful vocals, and pummeling beats, a recipe for a satisfying modern metal album even if the ingredients are pretty familiar.
Sometimes you just want a well-done dose of the ol' familiar standard, and that's what ISCARIOT delivers here with gut-busting ferocity and a youthful zeal. Their utter lack of distinction or originality will keep them at the bottom of the pack for now, but their obvious fire and fury will lead them, should they survive the real-world hardships of band life, into their stride soon enough. This may be the most gung-ho 6 in the history of reviews, but mark my words — these kids are on to something.