The past few years have seen the metalcore scene offer up numerous delightful albums. Such as last year’s brilliant release from Bring Me the Horizon, or In Hearts Wake‘s recent album. All those albums are brilliant, but you haven’t heard anything until you have listened to Texas in July’s new album Bloodworks. One would not believe that they recently had a line-up change as they sound tighter than they ever did before. Vocalist Alex Good and guitarist Christian Royer both left the band earlier this year. They were replaced by JT Cavey on vocals and Cam Welsh on guitar.
With a new line-up, the remaining band members decided that it was time to for the band to become revitalised – with their previous self-titled album feeling rather like Boxer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm just before he was taken to the knackers. The result of that revitalising is an entirely new and revamped sound, which surpasses anything that Texas in July has released in the past. For once, Texas in July decide to introduce clean vocals to the mix, even if they are only for brief moments, and they sound absolutely phenomenal next to Cavey’s intense screams and growls. If there were any doubts about Cavey’s prowess as a vocalist and how he would fill Good’s shoes, then Bloodwork successfully blows away those doubts and proves that Cavey matches Good’s vocals and is perhaps a better vocalist than Good. His wide range of screams and unique vocal patterns makes Good’s vocals seem rather bland in comparison.
Cavey is not the only one who shines through on the album. Adam Grey shows off incredibly unique talent on the drums whether he is leading an explosive breakdown or showing off in a drum solo. Welsh and Chris Davies lay down some mighty fine riffage and construct a kaleidoscope of riffs ranging from crisp, clean and melody-driven guitar riffs to chugging, dark guitar riffs that create ambient interludes between songs. Couple this with jazzy, groove-filled bass riffs of Ben Witkowski and you have possibly one of the most melodic, yet also heaviest metal-core releases that you have heard in a while.
From the opening song of “Broken Soul”, Bloodworks hits you like a sack of bricks as it fires off blistering guitar riffs and explosive breakdowns to accompany Cavey’s vocal mauling of your ears with his rapid bursts of screamed vocals. It appears from the lyrical perspective that Texas in July has taken a leaf out of The Color Morale’s book and has gone for the encouraging lyrics that are tinged with a dark edge as they deal with the contentious topics of suicide, depression, and trying to get through all of those things. Except where The Color Morale fires out encouraging lyrics, Texas in July rather focus on the dark imagery and allow the overall message of their songs to reflect a message of hope. Although they often directly throw out the occasional lyric that reflects an encouraging message such as on “Defenseless” with the lyric “We will stand above their lies”.
An interesting aspect of the album is Levi Benton’s, of Miss May I, guest spot half-way through the album on “The Void”. Not only does the track show-off the instrumental prowess of the band as it alternates between ambient interludes and melody-driven chugging riffs, but it also puts Cavey next to a true legend within the metalcore scene, and Cavey honestly blows Benton straight out of the water. I could possibly be quite besotted with Cavey’s voice – that isn’t weird right?
Bloodworks is possibly one of the best albums that the metalcore scene has given us this decade and it makes me feel better regarding the fiasco that was Asking Alexandria’s new album and the demise of As I Lay Dying. From start to finish, Bloodworks serves up a series of songs that disprove the statement of the metal scene stagnating as each song has brilliant and unique qualities. It is usually at this point that I’d pick a favourite song – but I just can’t as they’re all so brilliant. If this is the new Texas in July, then I’m excited for the future.