Life Stage is a progressive metal from Austin, Texas. Their debut is a EP called Stage 1. It’s 5 tracks around the 6 minute mark which is the perfect time length. Each of the songs never overstay their welcome. At the time of recording the EP, the band was a four-piece act which consisted of Ross Phillips (vocals and guitar), Rocky Phillips (guitars), A.J Grigson (bass) and Andy Emerich (drums). Since then the band had a line-up change where A.J Grigson was replaced with new bassist Chris Miller and Rocky Phillips left the band thus making them a trio.
Musically Life Stage takes elements of Kings X, Pantera, Metallica (Kill ’em All), Fates Warning (the John Arch era comes to mind, maybe even No Exit). There’s a dirty guitar sound that keeps the music fresh sounding which in modern day progressive metal or any sub genre of metal is lacking. Vocally, Ross Phillips reminds me of both Ted Leonard (Enchant) and Joey Eppard (Three).
The first two songs “Full Proof” and “Can I?“ are power housed tracks that show that these Texans can rock amongst the best of the genre. Then the mood shifts to an instrumental called “Instrumorphasis“. This song starts up as an acoustic piece similar in ways to Metallica‘s “Fade To Black“. Soon the song develops into something quite heavy, then returns to that acoustic space.
Even though I listed a bunch of bands that Life Stage reminded me of, I think they’re one of the more original sounding band, especially when almost all bands in the progressive metal genre today follow and imitate Dream Theater. Life Stage is a welcomed and refreshing band to the genre.
The last two tracks, “Time Capsule” and “New Life” continue with the heavy wall of sound assault. None of the musicians get too flashy, just enough to enhance the songs. If these songs are any indication of what to expect then the genre will benefit. If they smooth out the production just a little bit, I feel a new standard in progressive metal may be born.
In closing, if you’re tired of all the clone bands of Dream Theater, then you’ll need to acquire this debut EP ASAP! I can’t wait to hear the next stage of this band’s evolution. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on May 19th, 2010