Album Review: Lifes – Treading Water (Various Labels)

Milwaukee’s Lifes is comprised of bassist/vocalist Dave Rudnik and drummer/vocalist Zak Holochwost. The duo have spent the last two decades as members of some of the underground’s finest acts-from Seven Days of Samsara and Kung Fu Rick to People Again and Conquest for Death, respectively.

Their debut album Treading Water, slated for release on June 28th 2019, builds on what the band has been developing over the last few years. Engineered and mixed at Howl Street Recordings by Shane Hochstetler, Treading Water is not only a portrait of a band that has a clear vision of what they wish to achieve, it’s a portrait of them achieving it in spades. It’s a reclamation of what is ours.


The album’s title comes with a larger significance than many, and it’s best left up to the band themselves to explain it.

“On our demo, I wrote something about how there isn’t enough time in the day and we’re killing ourselves to maintain all of our different ‘lives’ says Rudnik. “That feeling has been amplified by 1000 for me since then, in having more kids, realizing we are getting old, health and financial issues and frustrations with work. I feel like I am failing at most of it and it weighs on me and pulls me down even further.”

“I’ve also come to see Treading Water as the moment we all find ourselves in socially and politically,” says Holochwost. “None of these themes are new. Certainly POC, LGBTQ+, women, etc. have all been dealing with what is now all in our faces throughout the world for a very, very long time. Though the world is seemingly treading water, I think more people are now aware of how awful we all treat each other. Yet, we have more positive things happening as a reaction to that awfulness. There’s a lot of inspiring moments that are not just found in photocopied zines anymore. There are pockets of great things happening that are attempting to keep the world’s head above water. The goal is to get us all above the water, both figuratively and literally.”



Always a unique proposition, any band that goes with the bass/drums/vocals only formula certainly promises to be heavy. Lifes are heavy. Lifes are brutal.

18 tracks of in your face aggression, Treading Water is a massive middle finger up to musical conventions and expectations. It’s chaotic and nasty but so damn compelling especially as it doesn’t overstay its welcome. With tracks like Fuck You Heroes, Base Level Decency Isn’t Decent Enough, Walking Brick Walls and Decrease the Suck not going over 40 seconds, you can be confident that this is a short and sharp blast to the face.

A blast to the face made up of filthy fuzzy bass, loud screeches of feedback, hardcore vocals and muscle-melting drums. Putting it simply, Lifes have something to say and Treading Water is their platform. Not everyone is going to want to hear it but tough shit.


Lifes – Treading Water Full Track Listing:

1. Rejected
2. Fuck You Heroes
3. Unsedated Suffocation
4. A Four Year Old Contemplates Death
5. Bitter Cold
6. Shameless
7. Facts of Lifes
8. Facts of Life
9. Skin in the Game
10. Base Level Decency Isn’t Decent Enough
11. Treading Water
12. Hours and Minutes
13. Tragic Procession
14. Uninformed Electorate (Complacently Eating Shit)
15. Walking Brick Walls
16. New Trend
17. Decrease the Suck
18. It’ll Probably Get Better One Day


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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Lifes - Treading Water (Various Labels)
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