By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
In 2005, Korn wild man guitar Brian ‘Head’ Welch announced he was leaving the band after 12 years. His reason was that he had found faith with Jesus Christ and wanted to focus on both growing it and raise his daughter. During his time away from Korn, Head decided to return to the metal scene with a new project, Love and Death. Formed in 2012 with guitarist J.R. Bareis, the group’s main objective was to headbang for the Lord, starting with their 2013 debut Between Here & Lost. Head eventually rejoined Korn around the same time, so Love and Death was put on the back burner. Once COVID-19 struck and shows got canceled, Head reunited his Christian metal warriors with Breaking Benjamin’s Jasen Rauch on bass and Phineas’ Isaiah Perez on drums to put together their long-awaited sophomore release, Perfectly Preserved. Put out by Earache Records, this record is a matter of love and death.
The album starts out with “Infamy.” This soft ballad is very gentle and full of mystery thanks to ominous piano playing. Head is easygoing on approach as he foreshadows what is coming. “Tragedy” brings out Love and Death’s heaviness. Head combines both melodic clean singing and raging screams as he searches for meaning in tragedy. Bareis goes into beast mode with his monstrous riffs in nu metal fashion. Now comes the record’s first single, “Down.” I hear the elements of nu metal and alternative metal fusing as one. This tune is full of passionate guitar licks and powerful blast beats thanks to the combined efforts of Bareis, Rauch, and Perez. Head continues the melodic method with his voice and Bareis gets in on the microphone action. “Let Me Love You” takes the group to alternative metal journey. Originally devised by DJ Snake and Justin Bieber, Head teams up with former Flyleaf frontwoman Lacey Strum as she and Bareis are a sweet pair with clean vocals, while Head goes full blown guttural. Would have picked something not done by Bieber, but hey, what do I know? “Death of Us” is supersonic with swift precision by Perez on drums. Head and Bareis are an effective duo as they both showoff their terrific clean voices. Love and Death continue to dance the waltz between nu and alt metal, and so far, no toes have been stepped on.
Halfway through as we come to “Slow Fire.” This song is sure to please hard rockers out there as the music is straight down the line with low-tune guitar riffs similar to djent. I love the storming voice Head produces during the breakdown/bridge while he and Bareis kick ass on the chorus together. “The Hunter” has Rauch’s Breaking Benjamin buddy Keith Wullen coming on board. The verses are a bit too poppy for my taste, but Rauch’s bass line is righteous enough to make it worthwhile. Once we approach to the bridge, Head lets out monstrous screams that belong on death metal records. Not the best, but still enjoyable. “Lo Lamento” was originally released in 2016, and it helped shape the sound Head wanted to achieve. I love how the lyrics are a story of redemption and forgiveness as Head learns to be a better person all around. “Affliction” starts slow with a prick of the chords, then Bareis layers in titillating mid-tempo riffs. While he melodically sings the verses, Head raps the pre-chorus and goes ballistic on the bridge. They make an efficient team on the mic. We end the album with “White Flag.” Righteous Vendetta’s Ryan Hayes helps on the vocals as he intensifies the verses with his metalcore vocals. While Bareis continues to be angelic in chorus, Head gets mean in there as well. This song captivates the righteous nature of the album.
Been 8 years since their debut, and Perfectly Preserved is savagely redeeming to listen to. Love and Death have evolved beyond their nu metal roots but have completely abandoned it. As I see it, they got better. Head is coming in his own as a frontman, highlighting his melodic voice while fueling his rampant cries. The album was not executed entirely perfect, but this is a worthy Christian metal album that soldiers for Christ can get behind. Regret, redemption, and forgiveness is something we all have to life for, so maybe this record will us achieve that. To Love and Death, I salute you. Horns up!!!
Let Me Love You (feat. Lacey Sturm)
Death Of Us
The Hunter (feat. Keith Wallen)
White Flag (feat. Ryan Hayes)
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