The brainchild of Brian “Head” Welch, Love and Death returns after eight long years to deliver Perfectly Preserved on Friday, February 12, 2021 thanks to Earache Records.
We all know that the talented guitarist departed the multi-platinum, Grammy Award winning KoЯn back in 2005 to find himself and make peace with his inner-demons. During this period, he authored the solo disc, Save Me From Myself, in 2008, and toured on the release with a six-piece band. Though, in 2012, Welch re-branded the project and christened it Love and Death, delivering the debut LP Between Here & Lost less than a year later. That was January 2013, and by May 2013 he had officially rejoined forces with his KoЯn-padres.
Needless to say, the ambitious musician hasn’t exactly had a plethora of free time throughout the past eleven years. However, the past year has cleared many calendars, and so Welch opted to take advantage of his newfound downtime rather than sitting idle. Enlisting his good friend Jasen Rauch of Breaking Benjamin to tackle guitar, bass and production duties, along with longtime Love and Death Guitarist/Vocalist JR Bareis and Phinehas’ Isaiah Perez on drums, Welch began to craft the material that would become Perfectly Preserved.
Resurrecting Love and Death through these 10 new tracks, the band continues with their themes of redemption and recovery, providing hope and resilience in the face of real-life struggle. It all begins with a dramatic piano and softly weeping cello on “Infamy,” an overture of just under two minutes that gently but passionately guides listeners into the belly of the record. This is obviously before the proper first track, “Tragedy,” explodes into a gritty Alt Metal stomper, one that explores the ways in which we feed into our own misfortunes. This effectively introduces the collection and paves the way for its frank lyrical honesty and careful blend of melodic Metal and blistering Rock-n-Roll.
Throughout Perfectly Preserved, there’s the killer bass groove that weaves around “Down,” the headbanging “Slow Fire,” and so much more. Like the crunchy kickoff to “Death Of Us,” a dangerously infectious, KoЯn-inspired moment. But this is not a derivative selection of Breaking Benjamin and KoЯn rip-offs—far from it! The perfect example of this being “Let Me Love You,” which features the ethereal Lacey Sturm (ex-Flyleaf) on guest vocals. A song about never giving up on love, there’s a delicate shimmer that emanates passion from every single chord.
Of course, the bulk of the LP is heavy, falling happily into the Alt Metal category. One of the most punishing of the batch, “The Hunter,” features Rasch’s Breaking Ben bandmate Keith Wallen. Here, thrumming rhythms provide a brutal attack as Welch and co. explore the loss of identity without losing their brand of beautifully magnetic hope. This is similar in some ways to the first single released from the album, “Lo Lamento,” a moving plea for forgiveness from the transgressions of our past.
Excitingly, they leave a pair of their heaviest moments for the finale. The first being “Affliction,” which offers a sound worthy of a Horror soundtrack with its spine-tingling pre-chorus and lyrical look at fighting for control. But they ultimately opt to sign off with “White Flag,” a truly unique blend of drug-induced darkness and determined light that sees Righteous Vendetta’s Ryan Hayes providing ‘angelic’ guest vocals as he fights against falling prey to Welch’s devilish id. It’s the perfect culmination to an album that sees Love and Death willing to own up to past mistakes, evolve as humans, and embrace the gift of forgiveness, all as they acknowledge that every journey has its dark days.
There’s really no great mystery behind Love and Death’s lyrical content, but they certainly understand how to compose an undeniably infectious Rock-n-Roll track. Add to this skill their open hearts and ability to radiate hope, and you have an Alt Metal collection that shines bright. Sure, they’re not breaking down any genre barriers or reinventing Metal, but there’s something to be said for a band that is open and self-aware enough to wholly own their flaws and past sins. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Perfectly Preserved 4.5 of 5 stars.