February 14, 2018 Slaves – Beautiful Death (Album Review)
Long waited and overdue, Sacramento’s diverse Alternative Rock outfit, Slaves, stylized SL▲VES, is setting up the saddles for the ride of their new record Beautiful Death. A follow-up to 2015’s Routine Breathing, unfortunately their new album was set back slightly due their exit from Artery Recordings. Finding themselves without a home, they vowed to move forward with the release of the album. Fortunately their uncertainty did not last too long, and they signed a new deal with SBG Records. Now, after much anticipation, Vocalist Jonny Craig, Bassist Coil Vieira, and Guitarist Weston Richmond have partnered with SBG Records, stamping Friday, February 16, 2018 as the official release day for Beautiful Death.
Starting a new chapter in their story, the new album hits airwaves the same day Slaves kicks off their Beautiful Death Tour, set to run through March 12th. Ten songs in total, the album opens with “I’d Rather See Your Star Explode,” which is an explosion within itself. Craig’s sultry, raspy voice conveys the passion poured into the catchy tune. Sweet, higher pitched guitars flow with the drum beat that make it undeniably irresistible to dance to (or at least move to the beat.) The track gives in to the common struggle with any relationship, giving someone everything there was to give, only for it to not feel like it was enough. It is the courage of being able to find strength and walk away, which Craig finds as he screams “Just wait!”
The party-vibe continues with “Patience Is The Virtue.” A track which sounds like a grinding synth with muffled cymbals, it grows into swirling guitars, dancing through Craig’s mix of sensual and rapping vocals. Lyrically, it humbly admits to making mistakes and finding patience in the road back upward. An anthem for the pessimist at its finest, the song encourages listeners to keep their eye on the prize and be patient.
That in mind, it is great to see Slaves with a positive headset, a feeling that continues throughout Beautiful Death. Even through hard times, it finds light. For example, “True Colors” is a well-composed, vulnerable, and honest track about betrayal. It is funny how music can create such a feeling within us, and Slaves is able to create a sense of anxiety amidst the playtime that connects deeply. Craig cries out, “Give me back the love I wasted now” to the selfish tyrant whom does care who he/she hurt in the process. It is another great, relatable piece that could apply to any type of relationship. There is a great contrast between a catchy, textured chorus and the slow tempo verses, which will translate very well in powerful, live performances.
The beautifully formulated balances within each song continue on with “Let This Haunt You,” a cut which consists of heavy bass and guitar. Introducing Craig’s Rapcore lyrics, the verses remain tame while the choruses unleash bursts of energy. Then there is “Warning from My Demons,” which is rather light compared to the rest of the album, but still heavy in terms of thickness and texture. Here, the band swims through the motions as Craig sings about inner demons. Channelling it all, it sometimes is hard to even put these type of feelings into words, but Slaves does a magical job.
Lastly, Beautiful Death closes out with the most personal song of all, “The Pact.” Displaying strength and bravery, the ballad connects with each member playing, and the details get about as close as a game of Operation, pinpointing every little texture. Heartfelt, Craig sings, “I’ll keep my purpose. You keep your faith. We can get through this. Let’s make a pact right here, right now.” Matched with wholesome keys, instrumentation builds, creating remarkable momentum until the final note rings out.
Overall, Beautiful Death is a soundtrack for the brokenhearted, the backstabbed, and the lost. This record is one of the most openly honest albums released by anyone in some time. Lyrically, the album is an open book, which is one thing fans old and new can certainly appreciate. The compositions are a great balance between tension building verses and high energy choruses. Bringing it all together, the raw emotion oozes through the sound waves while plucking the heartstrings of anyone who listens. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Beautiful Death 5 out of 5 stars.