It’s safe to say that every fan of the Howard Jones-era in Killswitch Engage got really excited when Devil You Know, a new project featuring the aforementioned vocalist, released their first album last year. It would have been a true loss for the metal scene if Howard Jones had quit his career as one of the leading vocalists in the scene forever.
What first appeared as a studio project has quickly become a true band and the second record, They Bleed Red will be in stores on the 6th of November. This means that Mr. Jones is continuing to delight us all with his angry gutturals and unique clean vocals, as well as his bandmates John Sankey on drums, Ryan Wombacher on the bass and guitarist Francesco Artusato are going on writing heavy, strong and groovy songs – this time around, ranging from some of the heaviest stuff the band has ever released to more alternative and slow tracks.
The debut album The Beauty of Destruction has been well received by the media and yes, I did blast it out a lot, too. That album displayed a whole spectrum of different songs and even though this overall approach didn’t change too much for They Bleed Red, the band is now presenting a range of much more distinctive, straight-lined songs that were written and arranged with a rather definite goal. Also, Jones’ vocals have become stronger than on the first record. His shouts, growls and screams sound nearly as natural as ten years ago with Killswitch Engage, while his clean vocals have developed a lot and are now influenced by many different styles while sounding smooth and powerful at the same time – forget regular metalcore clean vocals, THIS is the shit.
“Consume The Damned” is a strong opener that already tells something about the overall sound of the record: The sophomore full-length sounds raw, heavy, but is also filled with groove and melody right where it’s needed. The single “The Way We Die” really proves how great a catchy chorus and an extended guitar solo go together with uncompromising heaviness if you’re doing it like Devil You Know. And, as fate willed, I vividly remember the silly and entertaining video for this song every time I’m listening to it. (Oh, excuse me, you haven’t seen the music video yet? Then go ahead and watch it below …)
They Bleed Red also contains some of the heaviest tracks the band has written so far: “Stay Of Execution” and “How The End Shall Be” are two fast-paced and dark sounding tracks, while “Shattered Silence” contains some melody as well and again sounds very natural despite tempo changes.
And as one would expect from a band like Devil You Know, it even offers one or two smaller and also bigger surprises. “Your Last Breath” is a slower song with great layering; in this song, the band delivers melodic highlights that make the following heavier parts even more intense. “Break The Ties” builds up nicely and actually contains a viking metal riff as well as some additional acoustic guitars – now how great is that? The biggest surprise might be “Let The Pain Take Hold”, a downright ballad with some of the best vocal performances ever delivered by Howard Jones – and probably one of my favorite tracks on the album.
I must say, though, that some songs at the end of the album fail to really impress me like the first ones. “Master Of None” doesn’t really get me. “Searching For The Sun” scores with excellent lyrics, but musically, it displays a slight drop in quality compared to other tracks. Nevertheless, this album contains so many highlights that I’m willing to leave out some weaker tracks …
All in all, They Bleed Red is a powerful second record by a band that has certainly found their style while still presenting a wide range of styles incorporated in their music. This is for all the people out there who enjoy modern melodic death and heavy metal with metalcore and groove metal influences and of course for all the die-hard Howard Jones fans out there. Y’all won’t be disappointed by this album, I promise.
For more information on the new album, check out my interview with guitarist Francesco Artusato here.
1. Consume The Damned 3:37
2. The Way We Die 3:31
3. Your Last Breath 4:30
4. Stay Of Execution 3:39
5. Break The Ties 4:39
6. Shattered Silence 4:15
7. Let The Pain Take Hold 4:33
8. Master Of None 4:54
9. Searching For The Sun 3:55
10. How The End Shall Be 4:32
11. Broken By The Cold 5:20
Playing time: 47:26
Release date: 6th of November, 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records