July 1, 2014 Slaves – Through Art We Are All Equals (Album review)
The newly formed band Slaves recently released their debut album Through Art We Are All Equals on Artery Recordings. The group features former frontman of Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance, Jonny Craig. Having already toured as direct support to Hands Like Houses earlier in the year, they will also be on The All Stars Tour alongside popular groups such as I See Stars and Like Moths to Flames starting July 11th. Conquering his personal demons, Through Art We Are All Equals is a culmination of Craig’s work since he entered rehab back in 2011. Featuring a line-up of exciting guest vocals such as Pierce the Veil frontman Vic Fuentes and Issues vocalist Tyler Carter; Natalie Craig, Craig’s sister, even does guest vocals on the album as the two address their parents’ divorce. As an artist and human being, the album is meant to represent a comeback and redemption for Craig, possessing highly personal and meaningful lyrics. Despite being a form of redemption for Craig, it also represents new life, mixing the artists old sound with the unique sound of Slaves as they establish themselves as a band.
The track “The Young and Beyond Reckless” features Craig’s long-time friend Tyler Carter. The song showcases both of their vocals beautifully as Carter has a fantastic range and is able to compliment the vocals of Craig perfectly. The self reflecting tone of the album is particularly strong in this song as the pair sing about facing a tough decision and making the wrong one. With atmospheric instrumentation featuring distant guitar melodies, the balance of intensity and tranquil moments are evenly spread throughout the album including tracks to follow such as “My Soul is Empty and Full of White Girls” and “Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall For Everything”.
Continuing the somber and serious theme of Through Art We Are All Equals, Natalie Craig joins her brother to sing about the painful memories the pair have of their parents’ divorce on “The Heart of Our Young”. Extremely emotional and easily relatable for those in similar situations, the song has a cathartic feel as the two come together to address the pain from their past and how even twenty seven years later for Craig, those feelings still linger on. This is the type of song many fans will be able to connect with and will form a closer relationship with Slaves and their fan base.
Closing track “Starving for FRIENDS” features the guest appearance of Vic Fuentes of Pierce the Veil. Those who have followed Craig for years may be surprised to hear this collaboration come together as the two had a falling out along with the rest of Pierce the Veil years ago. Having been friends, some of Craig’s actions resulted in the group taking a step back to distance themselves. In support of Craig and his efforts to mend matters, Fuentes readily agreed to do the guest vocals after being explained the meaning of the song. The pair sings as the start to a repaired friendship. The song is not only an apology to Pierce the Veil, it is also to all of the people Craig has hurt in the past, along with the bridges he burned. The lyrics “I miss my friends, the ones I would die for” summarize the heartfelt apology of Craig beautifully through his music, a connection he shares with many of those he has hurt in the past.
Overall Through Art We Are All Equals is a good album, much better and more emotional than many may have expected. The raw emotion Craig pours into his lyrics with the fantastic music that is paired with the words make it one fans and other musicians can easily assimilate with and enjoy at the same time. His approach is soulful, honest, and extremely intense. Everyone deserves a second chance in life and Craig has made the most of that chance with Slaves. It will be really interesting what is in the future for Slaves after such a heartfelt debut; definitely a pleasant and welcomed album which deserves close attention. CrypticRock gives Through Art We Are All Equals 4 out of 5 stars.
Check out exclusive coverage of Slaves special headlining performance May 26th in New Jersey on CrypticRock here.