Metalcore might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about China’s contributions to the world but, if Beijing band Life Awaits are anything to go by, then we’re well and truly missing out.
As lead singer Bai Yu – who explains his life changed when he saw Underoath live in Vancouver back in 2008 – tells us, the Chinese rock music market is big and growing rapidly. “It’s a pretty big market for rock music as a whole,” Yu tells us. “But for this genre, it’s still in a growing process. It’s definitely becoming bigger each day.”
The quartet, completed by guitarist Yimeng (Eamonn), bassist Sha Long and drummer Xing (Chauncy), have been playing in bands for years and came together through their shared musical tastes and passion. They’ve just signed with Famined Records – the same label that brought us Vietnam’s Windrunner, Hungarian band Faminehill and Newcastle’s Dayshifter – which immediately suggests they’re likely to be pretty good.
And latest single Better Now, which was released at the end of last month, confirms that suspicion. It opens up with flickering synthy noises before a huge wall of jumpy guitars come in with the synth continuing in the background. It drops down into an atmospheric verse with Yu’s light vocals supported by meandering guitars, before suddenly bursting into more intense vocals over big guitar chords, booming low tuned guitars and huge driving drums.
Later on a big intense chorus gives way to a fun darting guitar lick over the diving low-tuned guitars and all manner of atmospheric supporting synth, before the light vocals return to bring the track to a laid-back ending.
On the track, Yu tells us: “The song is actually a bit experimental and sound kind of different to our older stuff. It’s got a darker vibe to it. But we still tried to maintain some of the elements of our sound: heavy riffs, ambient fills and honest lyrics.” Check it out below:
The track follows the release of debut album Waves back in 2017, from which lead single You has amassed nearly 250,000 streams on Spotify and over 200,000 views on YouTube.
You also opens up with light guitars and electronic noises then big guitar chords with piano notes creeping over the top. A light verse with Yu’s engaging vocals “It feels like I have been in this place before, A ghost of all my dreams is knocking on my door, And I don’t remember anything but the sadness in your eyes, If only I could dream again, I would dream of you.”
It suddenly explodes into a big singalong chorus of heavier vocals “‘Cos I’m fading away and I can’t see myself, Until I decay ‘cos it’s more than I can take, So bury me with your hollow crown before that I can hear a sound,
You took a part of me, I know it won’t be found.” Another laid-back verse follows, then a chorus that ends with repeating high-pitched vocals “It was you, Who picked me up, It was you, Who broke me down.” That gives way to a cool diving guitar lick, which is very similar to the kinds of solos we heard in Windrunner’s music.
The more intense side of Life Awaits comes across in the impressive Empty, which opens with a light guitar then high-pitched guitars and rolling drums before huge screamed vocals are supported by intense drums and piercing guitars. Yu’s huge cry of “I’m still here, I will always be” gives way to a chorus of engaging clean vocals “There is no hope in these memories, Only my convictions, There is no sign to show you the way, I’m not content with this emptiness.”
The trademark guitar licks come in over an intense second verse then continues under the huge chorus. It’s a seriously impressive track, and you can check it out below:
There’s very much a Bring Me The Horizon vibe about the sound of Life Awaits, with Yu’s engaging vocals answered by intense screamed responses and the trademark ‘Asian metal’ sounds making it a really engaging listen. And Yu summarises their sound perfectly when he tells us: “It’s heavy and it’s beautiful.”
But if you like what you’ve heard from them so far then their second album, due for release later this year, sounds like it’s going to be even better. As Yu says: “Every song on the album has a different character and we are happy with what we’ve done so far. We feel like it’s going to embarrass our previous songs.”