Album Review

​Gift Giver - Shitlife

Released April 21, 2015
Lisa Sanchez
​Gift Giver's new album, Shitlife, has challenged my tolerance for vulgar nonsense. The album is Gift Giver's first full-length release and they have considerable room for improvement. The band plays a blend of deathcore, metalcore, and nu-metal, which just sounds like a big bag of "What the fuck?" I didn't expect much from an album titled Shitlife, but I didn't think I would end up struggling through the entire album.
I've heard albums like Shitlife many times before, except most of them contained a small nugget of individuality. The whole sound is just lazy. Shitlife is a giant metal trope; Gift Giver use tired death breakdowns over beat-to-death rap-metal tactics overdone since the late 90s. This isn't a case of simple plagiarism, it's as if Gift Giver skinned pinnacle nu-metal and metalcore bands then draped their hides lazily over themselves. Shitlife tries to incorporate nu-metal elements like turn-tables and distorted rapped lyrics overlaid with screams. Side note: stop trying to bring back nu-metal. It was a freak accident that it gained traction at any point in music history.
Gift Giver's style sounds awkward, forced, and wholly unoriginal considering the band is about the millionth metalcore band to try and pull it off. Shitlife sounds like Gift Giver regurgitated watered down Slipknot, shat on Korn's old cassette tapes, and then dipped it in Windex. The band is just making a cheap, disgusting version of a product that stopped being cool 15 years ago.
During "Trendkill" there is a moment of self-aware irony when lead singer Justin Johnson spits "You walk around like you're original, but all I see here is motherfuckin' pitiful" which is a very accurate representation of my feelings towards Shitlife. Aside from being unoriginal, Gift Giver's lyrics oscillate between empty threats to invisible third parties and self-deprecating pity. This subject matter could fly if half of the Warped Tour line up hadn't beat Gift Giver to the punch. Somehow Shitlife has taken a basic human emotion and reduced it to the horrendous mewling of a 13-year-old boy. I am entirely convinced that no one, including teenage boys, should have to be an audience to stream-of-consciousness word vomit.
Each song on Shitlife, from "Cursed" and "Bastard" to "Loose Cannon" featuring the cringe-worthy Emmure frontman Frankie Palmeri, is virtually indistinguishable. I'm not entirely sure how Gift Giver turned one worn-out, three-minute, deathcore breakdown into an entire album, but I suppose some part of me wants to give them credit for miraculously not realizing they sound the same as Tear Out the Heart, Make Them Suffer, and Papa Roach on methamphetamines. In the same year Papa Roach released some untimely new album, Gift Giver cut the legs right out from under them by stealing their sound and actually making me hate Shitlife more.
I've said a lot of negative things in this review, which are all true. However, if you're really into angsty adults yelling at you while aping people who did it better a decade sooner, then Gift Giver is your jam. Metal does not have to be music for ignorant people, but albums like Shitlife just keep giving the rest of us a bad reputation.