Review: “Revival” by Light The Torch

Devil You Know were forced to rename the band they had built from the ground up after drummer John Sankey (of Devolved fame) exited the group in 2016. Some form of legal issue being the reasoning. Having created a pair of albums in 2014’s “The Beauty Of Destruction”  which won them a coveted Metal Hammer Golden God Award in the “Best New Band” category and 2016’s “They Bleed Red”, would all the bands hard work be undone by the forced name change? They took it slowly, announcing the new name, Light The Torch in July 2017 and then slowly pushing out interviews, snippets of new material and working the media as best they could with the backing of their label, Nuclear Blast. The label had a lot to lose. A supergroup fronted by former Blood Has Been Shed and Killswitch Engage vocalist, Howard Jones. Not to mention the guitar talents of former All Shall Perish and Hiss of Atrocities man Francesco Artusato and Bleeding Through bassist Ryan Womacher. Replacing Shakey with Extinction A.D. sticks man Mike Sciulara was news deliberately held back. Both the band and the label have been very clear that this is a third album from Devil You Know and not a new band.

The album opens up with “Die Alone” which was the first track to emerge from the album a couple of months back. It’s a powerful while also being minimalist when it comes to the guitar work. The heavier edges of the music of the preceding albums have been sanded and smoothed to give Howard Jones vocals more space to breathe. Indeed it’s not until the closing that Jones trademark roar and and some heavier guitar work appears. “The God I Deserve” has a dirge like riff that is a catchy while utilising a sonic wave of highs and lows to bring everything together. “The Calm Before The Storm” has a surprise gang chant moment and a driving hook laden riff that is more of what the fans have come to expect. Complete with it’s anthemic chorus and positive lyrics, it’s a classic piece of melodic Metalcore. “Raise The Dead” continues that vibe while also featuring a couple of very impressive guitar solos from Francesco Artusato. “The Safety of Disbelief” is an obvious single, taking what the band have to offer and wrapping it up into a single song while also stripping out the majority of unclean vocals to gain a wider audience. The unclean vocals are used much more sparingly than on other songs and indeed throughout the album. “Virus” has the most continual unclean vocal sections from Howard Jones as well as the albums hallmark big choruses. The lyrical content continues a cathartic vibe that soaks through  after multiple listens, very much being an album about depression and recovery but on the more positive side. “The Great Divide” has a surprise electronic drum pattern introduction layered with synths that then builds into Light The Torch’s more traditional sound but far more melodically. The song gradually climbs to another epic guitar solo to close on a high. “The Bitter End” then kicks in with a heavier riff and continues the faster pace of the end of the previous track. It’s a Metalcore stomp fest of double bass drum kicks and bounce that is very welcome at this point. The surprise spoken word lines before kick back into the heavier side of what the band offer again is welcome.

“Lost In The Fire” starts with a palette cleansing riff before building a huge set of drum patterns for the guitars and base to rest on. It’s a big track that is pulled through by Mike Sciulara and is a real pointer to what his drum work could bring to the table on future albums. Again, the unclean vocals are used almost like a guitar solo, a couple of lines to push the closing part of the song through and give something extra against the wonderful melodic cleans. The slow headbang ability of the closing makes you want the music to keep flowing beyond that point. “The Sound Of Violence” has the most aggressive unclean vocal that Howard Jones has produced in… years. The dirge riff and eerie background synths build the layers and the fact that there are no sung vocals on the track at all comes as a surprise. No big chorus on this one and that’s saying something for the Light The Torch sound. “Pull My Heart Out” then takes the sound in a more half and half direction – sitting neatly between “The Sound Of Violence” and the earlier tracks like “The Calm Before The Storm”. Big chorus and melodic vocals but heavier over all sound more varied vocal attack. Closer “Judas Convention” starts with the electronics previously used and appears to be a direct call out to the band previous drummer. The track then picks up the pace with some powerful uncleans and guitar work before dropping down to the electronics and rising back. It’s a powerful statement piece.

Ultimately, Light The Torch are probably going down the road that Killswitch Engage would have taken had Howard Jones not fallen ill and exited the band to be replaced by original frontman Jesse Leech. There is a lot of “As Daylight Dies” era Killswitch Engage sound here and Francesco Artusato’s guitar work is very much in the vein of Adam D. The Melodic Metalcore patch is one which has been well trodden over the past 16 or so years and Light The Torch aren’t breaking any moulds. On paper the band don’t meet up to the expectations set by the members previous outings in that a much heavier sound, perhaps more akin to Blood Has Been Shed would be where you would think the band would be. Instead, the melodic approach is one which the band have taken and that’s fine. It’s a good time album and Josh Gilbert’s production work shines, it’s just that it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. As albums go, “Revival” is one that gets better across multiple listens and gets progressively better as it plays through and closes on a high. [6.5/10]

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