Elaborating on the ‘Slaves’ moniker Craig has recently been quoted as saying “Men have been enslaving men for as long as we’ve had gods to hide behind,” and “Every man is a slave to what we love — whether it be women, drugs, music or sports. Through art we are all equals".
Not being familiar with any of Jonny Craig’s previous works I sat down, hit play and was unsure of what I would be in store for. Within the first minute of the opening track “The Fire Down Below” I had the imminent feeling that this was an album I was really going to enjoy, with a hypnotic vocal intro layered over a beautiful, almost orchestral musical backdrop. Both vocally and musically the song builds to a powerful crescendo only to drop back and do it all over again.
As with all of the songs on this album the band deliver beautifully arranged layers of melodic music that transcend between commercial accessibility and powerful and poignant layers of heavy rock. I get the feeling these are more than just songs to Jonny Craig and the lyrics contained in this album are chapters of the soundtrack of his life. Slaves have a very unique sound combining elements of alternative, post-hardcore, pop and soul to deliver a very emotional music experience. At various stages of the album I found myself comparing them to Framing Hanley, Escape The Fate and even Linkin Park in the song ‘The King And The Army That Stands Behind Him’ whilst still retaining a completely original sound of their own.
Producer Kris Crummett who also handled mixing, mastering and engineering has done a wonderful job ensuring Slave’s diverse musical landscapes are perfectly captured, with each instrument coming into prominence when required then blending back perfectly into the mix. I was constantly blown away by how good the drumming sounded on this album, which is something I normally don’t tend to pay much attention to.
For me the standout tracks are the opener ‘The Fire Down Below’, the almost commercial second single ‘My soul Is Empty And Full Of White Girls’ and the closing track ‘Starving For Friends’. Although with every subsequent listen other tracks are beginning to embed themselves in my musical psyche and I am sure that long after this review is done my favourite tracks will change many times over.
Slaves will be touring Australia in October so if you haven’t done so already check out ‘Through Art We Are Equals’ by Slaves.
Review by Mike Trandafil