Eight years. There were eight years between Love and Death’s arrival on the scene with their debut, ‘Between Here and Lost’, and their newest effort, ‘Perfectly Preserved’. This time was disrupted by changing band members, return to former bands, conflicting schedules, and the joys of a worldwide shut down. Nonetheless, the potential for a Love and Death sophomore record remained, persisting more and more each year. Finally, after years of waiting and losing hope, the band returns with their second record that continues the same nu-metal/alternative metal sound that dominated the debut.
In an interview with guitarist JR Bareis, it was revealed that the record was written over the entire course of the 8-year gap between the two records in various segments of songwriting motivation. From the oldest written track “White Flag” to the more recently written tracks such as “Down” and “Tragedy,” ‘Perfectly Preserved’ embodies its own title as it stands out as an album full of preserved tracks that were written and enhanced over long periods of time. With its composition, Love and Death’s sophomore record embraces the same nu metal sound established previously with heavily distorted riffs with dissonance, groovy drum rhythms and patterns, emphasized bass presence, and the dynamic performance of harsher sing/screams from Brian “Head” Welch and the cleaner, smoother tones from JR Bareis. From the dramatic opener of “Infamy” that soars in atmosphere to the heavy, unrelenting closer of “White Flag,” [I]Perfectly Preserved[/I] is full of nonstop energy and power. This is particularly felt in the addition of Isaiah Perez and drums and Jasen Rauch on bass. Both of these new members provide a deeper aspect to the songwriting of the band, establishing their own sound within the record by providing heavier grooves and powerful presence.
Along with these new members, Love and Death tackles new territory with their sound, expanding their horizons of songwriting ability. On “Tragedy” and “Affliction,” the band looks more toward a slower build of compositional tension, providing softer verses that explode into powerful choruses, accompanied all the more by intense, brutal breakdowns that showcase the heaviest aspects of the band’s performance. On the other end of the spectrum, tracks like “Death of Us” and “Slow Fire” show the band taking on an immediately aggressive presence, displaying some of Love and Death’s heaviest riffs to date mixing low tuned open notes contrasted by high dissonance. Finding the middle ground between these two sounds lies the more “mainstream” styles of “Down” and the cover of DJ Snake’s “Let Me Love You,” providing listeners with the heavier riffs in the intro and breakdown while maintaining a cleaner approach in the verses and choruses.
On the other end of the songwriting spectrum, JR Bareis described the lyricism of ‘Perfectly Preserved’ as a similar approach of the debut’s cry for redemption in the midst of recognizing the damages around, yet these themes are written from a new perspective. The last eight years have been a time of change for each of the members as they took on new challenges with different bands and projects, providing them with broader aspects of the world and how that impacts them personally. Moreover, Bareis described this experience as a more collaborative band effort, moving the focus from the struggles that Head faced early on in the solo music industry to the more holistic problems plaguing the modern-day world that affects individuals, especially in times of crisis such as now. However, with this more collaborative effort spanning multiple years, the themes often feel convoluted in presentation, showing the disparity between the tracks with earlier songwriting compared to those of more matured composition. Despite this disparity, the message behind each track remains just as powerful on an individual level, amplified by the supporting instrumentation throughout the record.
Aside from some inconsistencies in songwriting and composition (which is to be expected with such a large hiatus gap), Love and Death’s ‘Perfectly Preserved’ satisfies fans with a solid comeback record that carries the momentum of the debut further. Although not as raw and dynamic as the first record, the band’s sophomore record shows signs of maturity in songwriting capabilities and showcases the band members working with each other with fantastic chemistry and teamwork. Now the question remains: how long will we have to wait for Love and Death’s third full length?