Sound — 9
The band started around 2012 as a side project that brings different veteran musicians together to each bring their unique set of meal chops to create a supergroup, as they say. The members include: vocalist Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed), guitarist Francesco Artusato (All Has Perish), bassist Ryan Wombacher and drummer John Sankey (Devolved, Fear Factory). They recorded with ex-Machine Head guitarist producer Logan Mader (Gojira, Five Finger Death Punch) in early 2013 and after releasing "Shut It Down" online, they released "The Beauty of Destruction" on April 29, 2014. Given their history with previous bands, the thought of them releasing a mediocre debut is questionable at the point.
"The Beauty of Destruction" was viewed as a comeback for singer Howard Jones, ever since he got out of Killswitch Engage, got fans hyped of his new band as to whether they could revitalize the same arena rock choruses and chugging riffs that made the band so famous on his debut "The End of Heartache." "The Beauty of Desruction" saw hope with some strong tracks dominating the record, "A New Beginning" and "Seven Years Alone" and obviously middle paces tracks "For the Dead and Broken" and "It's Over" to stay radio friendly, while, turned out satisfactory, but stale at the same time. What the fans wanted was a new band, and ultimately, all of these elements and the talent of the musicians ended up a little wasted in the sense of showing true identity.
The cliche that the next album has to be heavier to conceal any notion that the band won't get softer or sell out is always a good thing, if its done the right way. Now they have returned after barely a year since their debut stronger than ever. The boldness of the sound in particular is what gives the album true notice at first. Starting with "Consume the Damned" with a single pounding drum before the first second even starts, continues with incredible fury of riffs and technical drums that sounds like it could come from Lamb of God, or As I Lay Dying, showing an impressive change in the pace of the instruments and Howard Jones showing his improved and menacing growls that could have everyone stare in silence upon hearing a monster of a voice. With such a great start, theres still ten songs to see if they can reproduce the same high quality of the first song. Alongside comes "The Way We Die," the song they were designed to write to please Killswitch Engage fans, since it has a hooky melody, once the chorus kicks in, you forget this is Devil You Know for a moment and start singing along as the beautiful eighties style solo embraces the song elegantly in the middle part until the chorus comes back again to hypnotize you until it end. Next we have "Your Last Breath" packing another dose of melodic riffs and more clean singing this time with a powerful chorus that begs to be a single as well as "The Way We Die." The first single "Stay of Execution" begins with speedy drums highlighting the precise execution of death metal influence on the guitar riffs and the crystal clear production is almost too good not to notice. The only weak point is the fact that the chorus is sung as a cheap way to please metalcore purists, it sounded out of place at first, but it doesn't ruin the song.
"Break the Ties" is a more common Devil You Know, similar to "Your Last Breath," delivering monstrous choruses and mainstream arrangements in the structure and has a great guitar solo. The instant thrasher "Shattered Silence" begins like a slow machine gun blasting their way to the metal community with tight drumming, memorable stormy riffs and lyrics that make a remark to fans and critics alike that Devil You Know won't be forgotten in the shadows and are here to stay. To take a break from all the shredding, comes "Let the Pain Take Hold," where Howard Jones takes command as he sings with conviction in his voice with a performance that captures every internal struggle of his being. The song slows the pace a bit, but one can overlook the fact after hearing this piece of music, he demonstrates all he can and shows why he's one of the most beloved modern metal singers of his time. On the latter part comes one of the heaviest songs Devil You Know have written is "Master of None," with Francesco Artusato demonstrating his innate talent creating technical riffs and some excellent drums from John Sankey and Howard Jones once again perfecting his growls without the necessity to sing clean specifically in the chorus. After the bridge, the incoming solo gets things intense, with just enough power to make it a fan favorite.
Another highlight is "How the End Shall Be" that feels like a battlefield of guitars and drums fighting each other, while spicing things a bit with gang vocals in the latter part of the song, making it a complete song with the best rhythm section of the album and a shredding solo as powerful and convincing as ever that early Sepultura, Megadeth or any thrash metal band would be proud of them. The album ends with "Broken by the Cold" with a unique instrumentation that lasts a minute before getting ahead with every detail right in the riffs, good chorus with a grandiose performance and a slow ending to an otherwise good song, but I expected more of the song, and frankly, it could have been easily longer. Still, one can assume they confused the first album's name with this one since "They Bleed Red" should have been called "The Beauty of Destruction" instead, because of the technical prowess these guys delivered in all of the songs of the album and fits the tone better.
Lyrics — 9
The vocals in the record do not disappoint in the slightest as Howard Jones gets all the high notes great, especially in "The Way We Die," where the vibrato style chorus fits the song perfectly. Also "Your Last Breath," "Break the Ties" and the emotional "Let the Pain Take Hold" shine in the clean vocals department. Elsewhere tracks like: Consume the "Damned," "Stay of Execution," "Master of None" and "How the End Shall Be" he uses the full power of his screams and growls much better than before. I just love this guy because he has a melodramatic tone in his voice that distinguishes himsef from his heavy meal peers and that is a highlight. The themes in the lyrics fit perfectly in the tone of the album, more depressing than not, Howard Jones deals with internal struggles in "Consume the Damned," "Let the Pain Take Hold" and fighting for your life in "Your Last Breath." The singer has had his problems and reflects on his desicions on the bonus track "I Am Alive," with another touching and honest performance liberating himself on the microphone. The lyrics are darker, but they are used in an honest way and definitely benefits the band in a mature way or writing.
Maybe in the next album he can explore positivity and the power of love in the lyrics to vary things up a little. Some of the best lyrics are from "Shattered Silence" tells "The killing fields a revolution/Careless with the gifts we've been given/Cast aside the way of the weak/Place your faith in yourself/Change comes too slow so let's take control/Make no mistake/Let these words ring clear/We move as one/There is no fear/Make your choice shatter silence/Our voice the only solution/We won't walk in the shadows." Another favorite with inspired lyrics is "Your Last Breath" tells "We are in motion/Ever changing ever revolving/make a decision/Death awaits in hesitation/The growing pain of each passing day/Look to those who never turn away/I'm lost in the wake of nothing/Caught up in a storm of the empty truth/This isn't the end or your last breath/The battle for life I will see this through."
Overall Impression — 9
"They Bleed Red" is the best album I've heard last year and much better than other albums from the likes of Disturbed and Trivium's last albums that fell short of their potential. The improved production values and lyrics make them band worthy of mentioning and praise. "Consume the Damned" with its heavy riffs and solid drums make it a highlight, while "Shattered Silence," "Master or None" and "How the End Shall Be" are the most impressive songs that deliver speed thrash riffs that maintains the heaviness and complex songwriting to a whole new level. All the songs are equally great, like "The Way We Die," "Your Last Breath" and "Break the Ties," "Let the Pain Take Hold," have monstrous choruses and melodic riffs and "How the End Shall Be," while being a crushing thunderstorm of a song, its catchy, heavy, varied and impressive as well. This is a step up from their debut and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes rock or heavy metal. The band's desire to put as much body of work in the songs themselves, mainly in the songwriting and production never gets washed down, nor diminished to the fact that they missed the point.