Album Review- Texas In July: BloodworkDate: September 22, 2014
By Nick Durant
The last year has brought a lot of change to Christian metalcore band Texas In July. They lost two longtime members of the band, vocalist Alex Good and lead guitarist Christian Royer, and there were questions what this would mean to the continuation of the band. The band's last album, the self-titled Texas In July, came out in 2012 and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Top Heatseeker Chart, which meant the band had to really put together something amazing to follow it up. The band has answered with their new album Bloodwork.
The album, being released by Equal Vision Records, was produced by Carson Slovak (August Burns Red, I the Breather) and Grant McFarland (ex-This or the Apocalypse drummer) and was an interesting process. The band obviously wanted to do things differently and that definitely shows on this record. Guitarist Chris Davis said that this album was "strictly for us" and it was an album that the band wants to hear. Davis went on to say that there are few words to accurately describe this album because of how different it was compared to the rest of their discography. The band wanted to have fun writing the album and be experimental and they did a lot of things they normally did not do.
The approach to recording the album was completely different than to what the band was used to doing in the studio. Usually drums are tracked first and guitars are done next but on Bloodwork the band tracked all guitars and bass first giving drummer Adam Gray time to write drums and then tracking drums. Gray is the mastermind behind the band, having a hand in everything they do, and he took his playing to a new level on this album. He shines on the instrumental track "Decamilli" where he pulls out all of his chops playing crazy parts over mellow ambient guitar. Texas In July is a drum driven band and the parts that Gray came up with were phenomenal. Gray's extra time to write his parts definitely paid off.
Musically, the band did some interesting things with Bloodwork and the experimentation was evident. The band has breakdowns all over this album but they're all well placed and sound monstrous and more brutal than usual. There are some really cool djent parts that really worked on "Pseudo Self" "Broken Soul" and "Nooses" as well as really majestic bouncy grooves throughout. The band switches tempos very frequently in most of the songs which at times seems unnecessary and kills the groove and vibe that was being created. Numerous tracks feature interludes that creates a certain atmosphere that contributes to the track.
On this release, the guitars were tuned to a different key than prior releases which added a deeper, more brutal tone. The guitars and bass just have a phenomenal sound. There were some outstanding leads and riffs all over the record but I feel like some of them were cut short. Something that really stood out were the solos on Bloodwork. Certain songs had shredding face-melting solos while others had nice melodic slower solos. The clean guitars used throughout the album are very fitting and give the songs a certain ambience. Little effects from the guitar squeals on the song "Broken Soul" to the sitar sounding intro on the song "The Void" give the songs a unique quality.
A very important aspect to Bloodwork is the vocals. New vocalist, JT Cavey, brings something new to the band that causes the band to evolve the way that they did with this album. Cavey has a very strong brutal midrange and a more powerful voice than previous vocalist Good. Bassist Ben Witkowski, who normally writes the lyrics and phrasing of the vocals, gave up most of those duties and let Cavey handle them. You can tell Cavey put his stamp on Bloodwork. He doesn't try to imitate Good and gives the band a new sound. The lyrics are still uplifting and there are numerous lines that get repeated in case you missed it the first time to add emphasis to the meaning. There is a small attempt at vocal melody on this album as well. It works well on "Sweetest Poison" and "Bloodwork" but it doesn't work too well in "Nooses." Miss May I vocalist Levi Benton makes an extremely brief appearance on "The Void" with a few brutal vocals that he spits out. It would have been nice if he got a longer feature than 20 seconds.
Bloodwork is an outstanding album for a band that finally got the blood flowing through their veins again. The new sound works and the songs are impressive.
Please note that all review opinions are the opinions of the writer's alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of those at WSOU 89.5 FM, Seton Hall University, or any of its affiliates.