In 2005 Brian Welch became a Christian, quit Korn, and started his own musical project. Between then and now, he wrote three books and released both a solo album and a full-band EP under the name Love and Death. In his first book and his solo album, both titled Save Me From Myself, Welch illustrated in full detail his struggle to overcome drug addictions and his eventual venture into Christianity. The lyrical themes were fascinating because they vividly described a journey from darkness to light, not excluding a single scrap of raw emotion and affliction.
In a way, the solo record was a purging – a method of catharsis that Welch used to bridge the gap from his old life to his new one. It came at a crucial time in his life, giving it a relentless potency that hasn’t been met in the genre since its 2008 release. With his first full-length album with Love and Death, Welch has finally found himself fully immersed in the Christian rock scene. Now the frontman isn’t dry of the passion, intensity, or struggle that defined Save Me From Myself, but it’s obvious that this debut album doesn’t quite meet the heart-wrenching, immaculate appeal of the solo record. The sound reflects the record’s attitude, being more of a colorless enterprise than a risk-taking endeavor instrumentally. Despite these minor setbacks, Between Here and Lost is an excellent progression from Save Me From Myself and a solid rock album in its own right.
Save Me From Myself was a Korn-esque hard rock album with a nu-metal twist, and Between Here and Lost is almost a mere continuation of this sound. The band brings reminiscence of other Christian rock outfits like Thousand Foot Krutch and Red, building their sound on energy and carrying it with emotion. The guitars are thick and heavy, and many electronic and instrumental elements give the sound a spooky feel. The lyrics follow similar thematic pursuits of the solo album, being raw, real and honest. And while these aspects of the record give it a backbone, they may also be the biggest weaknesses. The band has grown a bit since the solo album came out, but they expose the fact that there is still a lot of growth to be had; they aren’t breaking any new ground or trekking into new territory with this album. However, they do what they do quite well, with internal rawness and precision being their strongest attributes.
Out of all the tracks, opener “The Abandoning” is arguably the most prosperous. Being a standout track that is obviously single-worthy, this song is brightly lit by its chorus. The guitars bring a smooth mix of melody and thump, bringing energetic dominance but also strickening riffs. Similarly, Welch’s voice – which is only getting stronger over time – is dualized by his raspy screams and harmonized singing. His clean vocals are often layered to make them rise above the booming instrumentation, and this is exemplified in the opener. A lot of the songs have similar structures to this track, being less elaborate and somewhat underbearing in comparison to the tough, lengthy songs off the solo record. The instrumentation has repetitive tendencies as well. Luckily the band has found a solid sound that – despite being a bit monotonous – has the ability to be digested in large doses.
“Watching the Bottom Fall” and “Meltdown” demonstrate Love and Death’s powerful musical approach, while “I W8 4 U” (featuring guest vocals from For Today’s Mattie Montgomery) is a venture into metalcore, complete with breakdowns and brutal screams. “Paralyzed” and “Chemicals” were first heard on the Chemicals EP, but although they seem a bit monotonous by the time the listener hits the second half of the record, their strengths come in the band’s ability to complement their sound with fitting lyrics. What the band has mastered is the ability to toy with both positive and negative emotion and personal sanity. Welch demonstrates – not just in these two songs, but throughout the record – that although he’s overcome many obstacles already in his pursuit of Christ, temptations and struggles don’t just disappear.
It won’t be a timeless, definitive mark that leaves an impact on the Christian hard music scene like Save Me From Myself has, but Between Here and Now is full of enough quality material to be enjoyed by fans of bands like Korn and Red, and especially fans of the solo album. In comparison this record is more condensed, and also less extensive than the 2008 release; though nothing really runs together, there aren’t many standout tracks. Still, this album is a good point for the career of Love and Death to take off, and denser, more memorable efforts may be just around the corner. I have a feeling that this album will be more of a grower than the solo release, similar to Flyleaf‘s Memento Mori, an album that wasn’t welcomed as warmly as the band’s debut. In the end, it’s nice to see such great chemistry between the band members on this solid collection of new material. And most of all, it’s nice to see that Welch hasn’t missed a single beat since he started following Christ, and with Love and Death, both he and the rest of the band have a bright future in front of them.