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LIFE STAGE

Progressive Metal • United States


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Life Stage biography
LIFE STAGE is an American Progressive Metal act formed in 2006 in Austin, Texas under the 4 ALARM monicker. They changed their name to LIFE STAGE in late 2008. The band consist of Ross Phillips on vocals and guitar, Andy Emerich on drums percussion and vocals( Andy is a percussion performance major at the University of Texas in Austin specializing in jazz)and Chris Miller on bass and vocals. LIFE STAGE released their debut EP called "Stage 1" on the 1st of August 2009. The band sites RUSH, DREAM THEATER, METALLICA and even THE POLICE as influences.

LIFE STAGE inclusion in the Prog Achives database was approved by the Progressive Metal Team.

( Biography written by UMUR. Thanks to Ross Phillips for additional info for the Biography)

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3.33 | 3 ratings
Stage 1
2009

LIFE STAGE Reviews


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 Stage 1 by LIFE STAGE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
3.33 | 3 ratings

BUY
Stage 1
Life Stage Progressive Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Stage 1 is, as one might surmise from the title, the first production by US act Life Stage. A fairly long effort as far as EPs go, clocking in at just over 30 minutes with tracks averaging at just over 6 minutes in length. Their chosen style is progressive metal, and of a variety that doesn't remind of acts like Dream Theater or Fates Warning - always a welcome surprise in this genre.

Dark, distorted guitar riffs with a grimy vibe is the dominant feature of this band, with words like gritty and dirty often coming to mind when listening to this CD. Life Stage opts for a merry mix of riff cascades and quirky thematic riff constructions for the heavy parts, and the guitar sound as well as the manner in which these passages are constructed reminded me of semi-legendary US act Possessed they way they came across on the Joe Satriani produced mini album "Eyes of Horror" as well as the debut effort of the somewhat more obscure 80's act Nasty Savage. When that is said, there's much more to Life Stage than what these 80's acts had to offer though.

Besides heavy and quirky, contrast is another aspect of this disc which stands out. Both between the clean lead vocals and the aforementioned guitars, but also due to the extensive use of lighter, undistorted guitars. Most often in themes and passages with wandering guitar textures wedged in between heavier passages or as the initial movement of the compositions.

Personally I found this band talented, but not yet fully developed. Generally speaking I think their compositions can become more concise, lots of really good ideas to be found but there are also passages that come across as overly long or slightly out of place.

Opening track Full Proof features a melodic theme with what I'd describe as eastern touches as a recurring theme. Which sounds great. And the alternate version of it that appears in the final passage of the track is arguably just as intriguing. Personally I would have loved hearing the latter version more extensively explored in the initial instrumental part of this track as well rather than to be saved for the final moments. In a similar vein, I thought the instrumental outro on Can I? to be just a tad too long, while the initial phase of Instrumorphasis might have served it's purpose as a standalone track on this disc just as well as it does as a precursor to the at times brilliant following 4 minutes of shifting expressions and quirky riff workouts.

Life Stage does save up the best for last on this EP. Final track New Life is a really intriguing effort, and the bombastic last third of this track represents this band at their best, smoothly developing the hypnotic bass and drum cascade appearing just after 4 minutes into a brilliantly evolving monster of a climax.

If you have an interest in progressive metal that ventures outside of the most well trodden tracks and you manage to appreciate a well talented act when you come across them, Life Stage is a band you'd most likely want to follow. Especially if you generally enjoy the darker side of the progressive metal universe and have a soft spot for subtle complexities and sophisticated quirkiness.

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 Stage 1 by LIFE STAGE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
3.33 | 3 ratings

BUY
Stage 1
Life Stage Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars LIFE STAGE are a new Prog-Metal band out of Austin, Texas. This is their debut EP, although at only 3 minutes shorter than RUSH's "Permanent Waves" it's not THAT short. The music is heavy and fairly dark with little in the way of solos. I thought of AMPLIFIER several times. I have to say that this recording is almost perfect instrumentally for my tastes.The vocals were a let down when I first heard them on the opening track but I don't mind them now. Funny but it's really only that first song where the vocals sound weak compared to the music.

"Full Proof" sure got me excited the first time I heard it as it opens with an IRON MAIDEN-like guitar line before that's blown away by the riffs. That guitar line is back before 2 minutes followed by riffs again and vocals this time. A change 4 1/2 minutes in. The guitar solos over the heaviness then the opening guitar line returns before 5 1/2 minutes only this time it doesn't leave when the riffs come smashing in. Nice. "Can I ?" has this heavy intro as vocals join in. It settles before 3 minutes then builds. Here we go !

"Instrumorphasis" opens with acoustic guitar melodies. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes. Great sound after 3 minutes then it settles again but not for long. A calm 5 minutes in. It blends into "Time Capsule" my favourite track on here.The mellow parts remind me of INCUBUS for some reason. It kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes then settles back as contrasts continue. Emotion before 5 1/2 minutes as it picks back up then the guitar solos. "New Life" turns heavy quickly. This tune is complex with slight tempo shifts. Vocals 2 minutes in. Just killer instrumental work here bringing ZERO HOUR to mind. So impressive. Nice bass 4 1/2 minutes in and check out the guitar before 6 minutes !

These last three tracks are mind blowers folks. Hell ya i'm a fan, and I look forward to their first LP.

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 Stage 1 by LIFE STAGE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
3.33 | 3 ratings

BUY
Stage 1
Life Stage Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Stage 1" is the debut release by US, Austin, Texas based progressive metal act Life Stage. "Stage 1" is a 5 track, 32:31 minute long EP. The band is a four-piece act on this EP consisting of Ross Phillips on vocals and guitar, Rocky Phillips on Guitars, A.J Grigson on bass and Andy Emerich on drums. The band has since the recording of the EP replaced A.J Grigson with new bassist Chris Miller and Rocky Phillips has also left the band making Life Stage a trio.

The music on "Stage 1" is for the most part a really heavy progressive metal style with lots of edgy and quite groovy metal riffing. I´m thinking Dream Theater meets Metallica with a slight nod towards Pantera. The band also sites Rush as a major influence and I would add Enchant to the influences as well. Mostly because of Ross Phillips vocal style and vocal lines which sometimes remind me of Ted Leonard´s ditto. With the name dropping out of the way I actually think Life Stage are good at mixing their influences into a sound of their own. They don´t particularly sound like anyone else and that´s always a good sign on a debut release. The band seem very ambitious and the level of musicianship is excellent on the EP. Heavy edgy guitar riffing, quite technical drumming, great bass playing and generally great interplay between the musicians. This is a powerful yet sophisticated act with an emphasis on power. They nearly blew my socks off when the opening track "Full Proof" went into gear.

Life Stage fortunately have many different strings to play on and the 5 tracks on the EP cover a lot of ground while still sounding unmistakably like Life Stage. There are 4 tracks with vocals and 1 instrumental on the EP. I enjoy all tracks on the EP but the instrumental "Instrumorphasis", the opening track "Full Proof" and the 2nd track "Can I?" are probably my favorites. Reading the lyrics on the EP it becomes quite clear that Life Stage come from a Christian background and their vision and worldview are dealt with in the lyrics. Sometimes very directly like in "Can I?" and other times in a bit more subtle manner.

The production is really powerful. The guitar might be a bit too loud in the mix but it sounds great IMO. The vocal production is a bit flawed though and doesn´t sound completely professional to my ears. Overall the production is enjoyable though.

"Stage 1" is a great and quite promising first release by Life Stage. There are a few things I think the band should work on for future releases though. They have the most important things down and that´s power and enthusiasm. The EP oozes both. The instrumental skills are excellent and the songwriting is intriguing for the most part. So my only complaint here is about the vocals and the vocal lines which are a bit sub par to the rest of the music. We´re not talking anything really disturbing, but they do drag my rating down a bit and I hope Life Stage will focus on improving that part of their sound. So overall this is a very promising and solid debut effort with room for improvement and a 3 - 3.5 star rating is deserved. This could be a band to look out for in the coming years. I´m intrigued.

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Thanks to UMUR for the artist addition.

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