Slaves
Beautiful Death


4.5
superb

Review

by Zachery Cotto USER (22 Reviews)
February 16th, 2018 | 151 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Getting closer to closure

Enough has been said about Jonny Craig. His life of debauchery, past drug abuse, and infamous behavior have been synonymous with his name for years now. So much so, that it can get in the way of what’s paramount: The music.

A thing that is seldom mentioned about Jonny Craig is that he’s living proof that a fantastic singer cannot save a bad song. That’s been rather evident in his latest ventures. His voice couldn’t save the lack of creativity on Slaves’ 2015 LP Routine Breathing. His voice couldn’t salvage the poor production on his last solo EP Find What You Love and Let It Kill You.

That’s why when half of the members of Slaves either left or were forcibly kicked out in 2016, and the remaining members decided to seek new production talent with Erik Ron for their newest LP Beautiful Death, a change in style was inevitable. This different headspace has brought along more contemporary production styles, more compelling lyrical content, and eclectic instrumental ideas that distance themselves from what’s typical of generic post hardcore—things that Slaves had severely struggled with before. What’s most important about this change, however, is that is shows that when Jonny Craig is surrounded by creative talent, his talent is made to shine.

Slaves’ latest LP Beautiful Death is their best one yet. In large part because it’s easily Jonny’s strongest vocal performance since leaving Dance Gavin Dance over 7 years ago—and that’s because he does something different. On songs like” Deadly Conversations” and “Warning from My Demons” he opts to trade his traditionally manic crooning and boasts of ego with a slightly more reserved approach that shows some subtly and tact. Even when he does continue with that abrasive vocal style, like on the tracks “I’d Rather See Your Star Explode” or “True Colors,” it’s made much more impactful by being more sparingly used.

This isn’t to undersell the instrumental diversity here either. Instead of relying purely on Jonny’s soulful voice to show the bands R&B and hip-hop influences, they decide to adopt many of the production techniques and styles that have been in that genre recently. Tracks like “Patience is the Virtue” and the aptly named “Petty Trappin” have this trap-influenced percussion with a subtle clatter of hi-hats and bass loops that compliment Jonny’s voice perfectly.

That’s not the extent of R&B influence here. One of the albums major highlights, “Back to the Roots” features a hook that feels eerily reminiscent of 90s hip-hop acts like Bel Biv DeVoe and Bobby Brown all while mixing in some modern production techniques and fantastic guitar work. It’s obvious that Weston Richmond, Collin Viera, and Erik Ron all went into this record with a wide swath of ideas that are all impactful and at times even feel innovative.

The lyrical content here is among Jonny’s most revealing and sensitive. With the raw and exposing monologue about his past drug abuse and shame on “The Pact,” his open admission of the fear of loneliness on “Back to the Roots” and his charming confidence exuded on songs like “Petty Trappin” these songs are among some of his most heartfelt and emotionally poignant yet.

There isn’t much more that can be said about Beautiful Death other than that’s it’s a fantastic album. It shows the evolution, adaption, and creativity that slaves truly needed to become distinct and special. With it’s myriad of influences from R&B, soul, hip-hop, trap all topped off with the trump card that is Jonny Craig, this LP comes together in a way that no other post hardcore band could feasibly pull off. Beautiful Death is creative enterprise at its finest. It’s refreshing, imaginative and most importantly it says one thing: Jonny Craig is back.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
bloc
February 16th 2018


55027 Comments


Hmm, might have to give this a listen

Digging: The Chemical Brothers - No Geography

butcherboy
February 16th 2018


9464 Comments


^same.. Sounds interesting, never heard of this guy.. great review!

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2018


25079 Comments


an asshole with a voice of gold

Digging: Lord Snow - SHADOWMARKS

foxblood
February 16th 2018


9491 Comments


ah, a review already. I will check this sometime. their work has sucked so far so I'm interested in hearing this if it is a turnaround. and Jonny has a great voice.

SteakByrnes
February 16th 2018


14565 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I swear if this is just the same shit as the last few albums I’m giving up on this man

Sinternet
February 16th 2018


19090 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

disclaimer: this sucks ass

Digging: Marina - LOVE

TooManyFriends
February 16th 2018


3016 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

why won't the site let me give this the 1.5 it deserves

foxblood
February 16th 2018


9491 Comments


no one ever has the same opinion as you sin so that prob means it's great tbh. nice Tommy heavenly6 rating, sput doesn't even know about her yet

SweeneyTodd
February 16th 2018


2149 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

i saw jonny with dgd on their ten years tour, legitimately mistook him for a very drunk fan, when he jumped over the barrier to get on stage about 3 people started yelling at security telling them to stop this raving drunk man, but alas it was jonny, shitfaced. his voice live is something to behold.





this album is the best the band have done

foxblood
February 16th 2018


9491 Comments


was he good that night or terrible? jonny always killed it when I've seen him but that was before the reunion tour

Sinternet
February 16th 2018


19090 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

that's what makes my opinions fun!



yeah people need to check her way more, honestly aside from a few artists here and there this site sleeps hard on asian musicians

SteakByrnes
February 16th 2018


14565 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yea there isn’t a lot of Asian musician appreciation on here, their stuff is usually really good and a lot more creative

foxblood
February 16th 2018


9491 Comments


yeah I certainly don't mind differing opinions on albums but I think your opinions can trigger people lol.

agreed, idk what is up with this site lol. shite like Rina Sawayama RINA gets hyped around here like it's something new yet everyone sleeps hard on the other 10 million great asian albums from the last few years. this site is awful at following Japanese and S Korean albums besides the outlier users and I don't get it. they need some Tommy in their life.

JesperL
February 16th 2018


371 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

wait this is supposed to be good?!

TooManyFriends
February 16th 2018


3016 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

(it's not)

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2018


8940 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I suspect foul play

JesperL
February 16th 2018


371 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

christ no, two songs in and this sounds pretty bad. I fuck w this type of electronic/post hardcore blend when done right (recent albums by I see stars, palisades) but this is just missing the mark in so many ways.



review's good tho

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2018


8940 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Clearly something happened or I'm missing the appeal, the "rapping" on the second track might have just sunk the whole ship in one blow

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2018


8940 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Silly me, it manages to get worse!

SteakByrnes
February 16th 2018


14565 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

That just makes me not want to listen to this now



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