LP Review; Slaves: “Beautiful Death”

“I’d Rather See Your Star Explode” starts with a slowly growing bundle of electronic tones paired with a faint percussion motive that is heard from a distance. The entire instrumental section enters in after a slight grand pause. When they enter, the percussion motive is brought to the forefront and acts as the catalyst to the beginning of the groove for the work. The strings ornamented the material presented that is centered around a step-wise melodic line. After this groove is set in stone, the instrumentation drops to allow the first vocals of the album to shine. The vocals that are present are ones that are characteristic for the band: they lie in the middle of the vocalist’s range, and they ride a natural vocal contour to support the melodic idea. The chorus of the work includes more instrumental tone colors, which helps to provide a strong use of contrast when moving from the verses of the work to the chorus. The second verse of the work mimics the first with additional embellishments to keep the audience intrigued. After the band runs through the chorus another time, they move into a heighted spin off verse that leads them to a moment with vocals in semi-isolation. This brings the listener’s attention right to the vocalist before the band quickly moves back to the chorus of the work to end the selection. This was a strong first track for the album, for it amplifies the sound that their fans know and love.

“Patience is the Virtue” starts with a small chordal interlude that includes faint hits that will become the foundation for the melodic content of the work. Soon after this, the entire instrumental ensemble enters in an elaborate nature as they expand on the small motives that were presented at the very beginning of the selection. When the vocalist enters, the instrumentation drops slightly to allow the balance of the work to settle nicely with the listeners. The first verse feels as if the band is pulling influence from the alternative/pop genre of music, for the vocalist is presenting his melodic material with such ease. Additionally, the background music is minimal in this portion of the work; however, the material that is present is providing a small laid back vibe that will resonate with varying audiences. The chorus of the work takes a more direct track to the band’s characteristic sound, which makes for a nice sense of variety within one piece of work. The second verse, however, is completely different than any material that the band has provided on the album up to this point, for the vocalist utilizes a more rugged, quicker paced-type approach to his melodic line, which gives the allusion to the rap genre of music. As the band moves towards the chorus, their sound switches back to the comfort of their normal sound. Towards the end of the work, the band provides another verse that focuses on a melodic line that lies higher in the vocalist’s range before crashing into the chorus one last time to round out the piece.

 “True Colors” starts with vocals from the very first beat of the work. The vocals that are presented sit in the lower part of the vocalist’s range; however, as the vocalist takes the audience through his melodic line, he provides a natural rise and fall for them to attach to, and he is able to do so by smoothly transitioning through different parts of his range. The instrumentation of the track is minimal throughout the verses, but during the chorus the instrumental ensemble puts everything on the table, musically speaking. As the selection evolves, it is heard that the instrumental section establishes a slight groove that helps to keep the work pushing forward continuously. After the second run of the chorus, the band shifts into an instrumental breakdown that is led by a held note provided by the vocalist. This breakdown is led by material that places focus on the strong beats of each musical phrase while subdividing it to provide slight embellishments to the motivic material. Before slamming back into the chorus of the work, the band provides a slight grand pause to break some of the musical tension that they’ve created. This track isn’t overly exciting when it comes to instrumental or lyrical material, but it does have a memorable sound to it.

“Let This Haunt You” starts with the evolution of an electronic semi-tone that starts almost inaudible and grows in order to transition, seamlessly, into an instrumental interlude that is led by the motive provided by the string section. During this string motive, the percussion section creates the steady pulse for the work while adding some rhythmic variations to help keep the audience intrigued as the groove is set. When the vocals enter in soon after, the instrumentation drops to let the vocals reign in isolation; however, the band keeps the lower string voices present as well as the percussion section during these moments to help keep the work progressive. The entire instrumental ensemble joins the vocalist when they reach the chorus in order to give the audience a heightened moment within the track. The second verse utilize more of the instrumental section, which is a strong move for the band, for it catches the audience off guard because they’ve become accustomed to the minimalistic approach within the verses of each selection. Towards the end of the work, all but electronics drop out to accompany the vocalist as he sings in isolation. Slowly, the band adds the instrumental section back in piece by piece to give off a layered effect, texturally speaking. This is strong for the band, for it gives the work more dimension, and this gives the audience something new to listen to. From here, the band moves back to the chorus, which ends the selection.

 “Petty Trappin” starts with a sequential motion that is carried through various color tones provided by the instrumental section. Underneath this lies a giant chord that slowly builds to help with the transition into the instrumental interlude featuring all of the instrumental section. The basic motive that is produced by the instrumental section is an altering two-tone motive that follows a simple up-down motion. This motive may be small, but it makes for a strong foundation for the musical material for the track as a whole. When the vocals enter, the instrumental section stays present to expand on the simple groove that was set at the beginning of the work. The vocals of the work take a more dramatic approach throughout this piece, for they provide more contrast in terms of dynamics and range. During the second verse of the work, the instrumentation drops out other than the essential members of the groove section to keep the vibe present for the listeners. When the band returns to the chorus, they keep everything virtually the same with slight additional nuances to add some small varieties to the selection. Near the end of the work, the instrumentation drops out to let the vocals shine in a lonesome nature before crashing back into the chorus to finish things up.

“I Know a Lot of Artists” starts with heavy attacks in the instrumental section across all fronts to produce the most aggressive introduction to a selection on the album thus far. This is strong for the band, for it will startle their audience in the best way, and it will urge them to keep listening. During the first verse of the track, the instrumental section plays a backseat role again, and falls to allow the vocals to have the limelight. When the band reaches the chorus, the instrumental material that was presented at the very beginning becomes present once more, which makes for an exciting chorus that provides rhythmic variety with a mixture of new instrumental timbres that meshes well with the vocals that are provided. After the chorus, the band includes a small instrumental excerpt to feature that strong material once more before falling back to the minimalistic instrumentation for the second verse. Towards the end of the work, the instrumentation drops slightly to focus on a rapid string motive that is soon joined by the other members of the instrumental section as well as the vocalist. This mixture makes for an intense breakdown that blurs both the instrumentation and vocals together. This eventually spins off into a quicker verse provided by the vocalist before transitioning back to the chorus to set the audience up for the end of the work.

 “Deadly Conversations” starts with the fluctuating motion of triadic figures that resonate in a flickering manner. This idea doesn’t stay prominent for long because the band’s instrumentation soon jumps in with to provide a slight interlude which introduces the vocalist for the track. The vocals that are introduced are similar to those on the previous tracks, for they remain, mainly, in the middle range of the vocalist, and they stay static throughout most of the verse with slight shifts here and there. The instrumentation drops to let the vocals reign during the verse; however, the instrumentation that is present happens to be small semi-tones that hit on the strong beats of each musical phrase, which keeps the symmetry of the track solid as the band pushes forward. The chorus of the work includes the entire instrumental ensemble, but the material isn’t overly exciting, but that works for the band, for the lyrical content is catchy and will likely remain with the audience. Near the end of the selection, the band drop in instrumentation to almost silence before the band slowly builds as a unit to crash into a larger-scale instrumental interlude. This interlude will assist the band in returning to the chorus of the work, which is how the song comes to an end.

“Back to the Roots” starts with a progressive instrumental feature from the first second of the track. This is led by heavy attacks among all instrumental fronts mixed with homorhythmic motives with slight embellishments made here and there. Similar to the other tracks on the album, when the vocalist enters the instrumentation immediately drops to allow the vocals to reign in isolation. When they introduce the melodic content for this selection, the band keeps the vocal content centered in the middle of the vocalist’s range; however, they allow for the natural fluctuation of his voice, which is supported by the added and diminished texture of the instrumental section here and there. The chorus gives the audience a more proactive set of musical nuances, which will help the track continue to lean forward while keeping the audience interested in the work. The second verse of the piece is almost identical to the first verse with a slightly mended ending, for here the instrumental section provides three large hits before transitioning back to the chorus of the work. Right before the end of the track, the band drops to only chordal motion in the instrumental section for a moment of musical relief before moving back to the chorus to wrap up the piece.

 “Warning From My Demons” starts with an instrumental interlude that focuses on a small string motive that is supported by an underlying foundation of electronic chord tones. Before the entire instrumental section enters, the electronic tones combine and quickly grow in sound, which seamlessly trades off the musical material to the new point of focus. Once the entire instrumental ensemble is present, the percussion section creates the groove of the work, which will become the foundation for all of the musical material presented throughout the track. When the vocals enter for the first time, the instrumental material remains almost at the same volume as the string section develops on the small motive that they established at the beginning of the tune. Right before the band hits the chorus, the instrumentation drops to allow the vocals to shine before transitioning onward. The chorus of the works follows the same format as the others on the album; however, the band messes with the groove at some points within the chorus to provide a tad amount of variety, so that the listeners won’t become bored with their musical material. As the band moves towards the end of the work, the band drops in instrumentation to provide a relaxed instrumental feature before the vocals enter in overtop of the new groove in a glistening nature. From this moment, the band switches to s guitar solo that leads the band back to the chorus of the work and eventually to the end.

“The Pact” starts with a gentle instrumental interlude with its focus on chordal movements that resonate with a piano-type timbre. During this moment, it can be heard that there are faint vocals being heard from a distance, which blends to produce an overall tender sound. This interlude provides a small arching motion of sound. This becomes more evident to the audience when the vocals enter, for the gentle rise and fall compliments the delicacy of the lead vocals of the first verse. In this verse, the vocalist portrays a gentle scene to the audience through his vocal imagery, which is something completely new for the album up to this point. Eventually the percussion section enters to establish the steady pulse of the work, which provides the listeners with stability as they push through the chorus and the second verse of the piece. Throughout the majority of the selection, the band adds and subtracts simple instrumental nuances, which helps them keep the audience on their toes, for they are getting new musical material most of the time. It is heard as one moves throughout this selection, that this song is going to resonate as one of the lesser songs in terms of intensity until the band reaches the climatic point, which falls almost at the very end of the work. At this point, the entire instrumental ensemble enters and expands on the groove that the chordal structure has set throughout the piece. The vocalist also travels into the upper part of his range at this point to juxtapose the motion of the instrumental section. This was a strong track to include on the album, for it gives the audience the chance to see what the band has to offer musically speaking; however, I don’t think it was a strong closing track because it was so different than everything else on the album. The band might’ve benefitted from placing this song in the middle of the album instead of the end.

 Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 3 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score for a few reasons. The first reason I have landed on this score is because almost every track on this album follows the same format, and almost every song on the album sounds the same. The second reason is that the album does reign true to the band’s characteristic sound with slight innovations throughout the overall work; however, there isn’t anything overly memorable about the album to make it stand out with the other amazing albums that are new to the scene. Therefore, if you are looking for another simple alternative album to grind into: this is the one!

*”Beautiful Death” was released on February 16, 2018 through SBG.

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