Review Summary: It’s A New Beginning, a Revival.
The back story about Light The Torch and Howard Jones surpasses the need to discuss new music under this moniker. Since quitting his position as Killswitch Engage’s frontman and vocalist things haven’t exactly been on the up and up for Howard in a group setting. A run of featured positions with other bands (Within Temptation just to mention one) and an unsuccessful approach to stepping out of the KsE shadow he made for himself have resulted in a series of consistent, yet unremarkable albums for his new band. For the band formerly known as Devil You Know and the changing of the band name due to ex-members name rights, Light The Torch marks another “new beginning” for Jones and co. without actually creating any steam for a group that should actually be hitting its stride.
Fairly, Devil You Know, I mean Light The Torch (oops) can actually write some pretty decent metalcore, suited to the commercial setting they produce and promote their art. Tracks like “Shut It Down” and “Seven Years Alone” (off the group’s debut) helped define these artists that were mostly known due to the success found with their previous projects. The hard-hitting, no frills approach to their new music helped (as well as the already noted success between Killswitch Engage and All Shall Perish) launch them directly into an international setting with tours and festivals shortly thereafter. Four years later and another full-length under the band’s belt (before the well publicised leaving of drummer John Sankey and name change) Light The Torch have conformed, releasing possibly the safest release of 2018. Unfortunately, for the band Revival
is less the new beginning the band was looking for and more of a forgettable triage into more of the same.
The album’s leading single and opener, “Die Alone” continues in the same vein as the group’s previous records. Bombastic riffs on the back of some by the book instrumentation lead to some well-trodden metalcore. Add Howard’s unchanging vocal style and it’s clear that Light The Torch are running on autopilot. One thing is clear though, the lyrical content Jone’s employs hasn’t really evolved past the ideals of separation and loneliness leading into the realms faced by death fearing mortals. Considering what is to come after, “Die Alone” is actually an album highlight. Fillers of different levels pepper the new record, creating a need for new listeners and even fans to skip to their “favourite” or at least more preferred tracks. For better or worse Light The Torch have crafted some effortless tracks, natural to the way these guys ‘want’ to make music these days. Understandably the listener could be forgiven in requesting more effort where the new album’s tracks are concerned. The simple structuring and by the book soundscape are well-executed, but unfortunately forgettable by the record’s end.
Some tracks do make their way above the “filler” status they give themselves, but they’re definitely here and there rather than throughout the entirety of the new album. “The Sound Of Violence” marks itself as a clear highlight. Jones’ vocal power brings back the flair found in his Blood Has Been Shed days. Largely it’s the attention to lifted energy that helps push “The Sound Of Violence” into fist pumping, head banging territory. The record’s closing piece is also worth a mention. “Judas Convention” is an emotive vocal led power ballad in the style only Howard Jones could achieve. The track itself hardly distinguished itself from the rest of the band’s catalogue, slightly marring its chance to be a completely memorable track but when all things considered it does show the capabilities of the Light The Torch members in terms of writing simple, yet powerful songs.
Overall it’s hard to find fault with a band simply doing what they are surely capable of. Equally it’s just as difficult to praise a band’s efforts in writing same-y, unremarkable tracks with a tendency to whine through the same motifs. If Light The Torch are looking for “a new beginning” they need to push past the band’s comfort zones and attempt innovative songwriting within a used and abused genre soundscape. If you were indeed a fan of the music found within the group’s debut and sophomore there’s definitely something here that will tick enough boxes for you to listen repeatedly. For the rest of us, the search continues for something truly memorable.