It seems as if everytime I turn around, vocalist Jonny Craig has a new band and a new endeavor. Though Craig has dealt with many issues in the past, he shows sparks of new life within his newest post-hardcore/experimental band Slaves and their debut release Through Art We Are All Equals. After releasing some solo work which was R&B in focus (much different than his fans had grown accustomed to), it’s nice to see that Craig has found where he belongs, once again – bringing his highly-acclaimed R&B/soul style vocals back to the post/hardcore scene.
The album wastes no time giving long-time fans the sound they were used to in Craig’s Dance Gavin Dance/Emarosa days with catchy vocals and heavy instrumentals in the opening single “The Fire Down Below”. The passion in Craig’s voice can be felt within the lines “Take the air from my lungs/ Put it in her because/ She’s the one who deserves to live/ The one that I pray that God forgives.” The opener sets a fine tone for what’s to come on the rest of the album.
On a pure lyrical standpoint, “My Soul Is Empty And Full Of Whit” should not be a track to skip. Some of Craig’s strongest attributes come to the surface to make it a very memorable track, and a true highlight of the record. Roughly three-quarters through the song, drummer Tai Wright (formerly of Four Letter Lie and Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows), has a wonderful way of wrapping his patterns around Craig’s reflective and mellowed-out voice as he nearly whispers “My selfish lies, selfish lies, I can’t do it any other way.” The song has a good balance of both reflection and an almost sense of anger in frustration every time Craig spurts out “silence is the dirtiest trick in life.”
It appears that a lot of thought went into creating the lyrics to “Ashes.Dust.Smoke.Love.Stars.The One”, given that the lyrics are more poetic and reflective than some tracks seen from Craig’s past. Craig speaks of a relationship turned sour, and given the poetic nature, may be speaking from experience. The lines “We’re not getting past it / Hoping these issues dissolve / But they take another form / These problems just evolve,” have a resonating presence to them, and I have to say that I tip my hat off to Craig and his pure ability to create such a poetic feel to the track.
Like many other long-time fans, I was both excited and apprehensive for what Slaves would be. It’s safe to say that fans can rest easy with their debut release, and Craig seems to be committed to putting his time and energy into this new endeavor. Long time fans can also get a hint of the short-lived post-hardcore supergroup Isles and Glaciers with the guest vocals from Vic Fuentes in the track “Starving for Friends,” which is a nice little trip down memory lane. The album also involves strong guest vocals from Tyler Carter of Issues, Kyle Lucas and even Craig’s sister Natalie Craig. Craig has come a long way from his constant drug use and the infamous MacBook scandal of 2011, and it seems he’s finally found a sense of purpose in music again.