SMG Review: Love and Death – Chemicals EP

Love and Death Chemicals E.P. review by SVH

In this cyber age that we live in, it’s easy to find all kinds of reviews upon a new CD release. Being the artsy Zen music guru-type dude that I am, I usually prefer to let those reviews speak for themselves and focus my attention on other topics. That is, unless the music speaks to me or the band is close to my heart. Well this week I’m gonna tell you about a little five song E.P. which is the debut release from Love and Death called Chemicals.

Love and Death is the new band that Brian Head Welch (formerly of KoRn) has formed from the remnants of his solo touring band of which I was the lead guitarist and backing vocalist for the first two years that he re-entered the music scene. So needless to say it’s exciting to see my good friends release some new music and press forward under the new moniker.

Love and Death featured video Paralyzed

The E.P. features two blistering new originals Paralyzed and the title track Chemicals, a really tripped out cover of the Devo classic Whip It and is rounded out by two remixes of the two new originals. The first single Paralyzed proves ‘Sir Headlee’ is back in touch with his roots and writing huge pounding riffs again (this one harkens back to the sound of Justin from Follow the Leader). The flow and feel of the rhythm really stirs the soul and gets you moving. The lyrics reflect how Head has learned to let go of the past and rely on God for direction in his life. Having been released as a single at the end of 2011, Paralyzed instantly garnished some good radio play and positive feedback from fans from both sides of Head’s career. Funny enough, many people have been saying that he sounds more like Korn than the band Korn does these days, especially coming just a few months after Korn’s Dubstep inspired Path of Totality.

The man has a sound and style that obviously was a key elements to the creation of the overall Korn vibe, which has never been the same since he left in 2005. Chemicals has a similar feel in that it too has that Korn vibe that makes me think of the raw aggression of Take a Look in the Mirror (that last Korn record to feature Welch on guitar) but also has some of that more Nine Inch Nails electronic vibe to it throughout the choruses. In particular the track Paralyzed shows how much Brian has grown as a vocalist since his debut solo effort Save Me From Myself. This is not only in terms of just pitch and key but the overall tonality of his voice is stronger. There is a power there that he’s starting to find and project and it’s really exciting to see the energy he put into the vocals on this record. I’d like to add on a side note that, although there are some out there that have been really critical of Head’s voice, he was a guitarist alongside one of the greatest metal voices of the last three decades, and to come out swinging like he has is something to admire. Head reminds me of Rob Zombie in this regard. In the beginning Rob had a vision and a concept that he was gonna see succeed no matter what. In early White Zombie recordings (prior to La Sexorcisto) Rob’s voice could have been considered the weak link, but he stayed true and worked hard and now has one of the most recognizable guttural screams in metal today!

Brian Head Welch performing Devo’s Whip It live!

From the first note all the way to the chorus you would barely recognize this version of Whip It but it JAMS! The way they took the main motif and translated a cheesy synth sound into a big fat rubbery guitar lick is killer. The way Brian interjected melody and yet gave this a slow sludgy groove just shows the mans got talent and knows how to turn a sense of humor into a solid work of art. It sounds like an original the way it was reworked, which makes it their own and to me that’s the beauty of covering a song.

As for the remixes — they are really well done and add extra value to the E.P. since without them this would just be a three song preview until the full-length album were to come out this October. The production work of Jason Rouche is very well done and he did an amazing job of bringing back that huge guitar driven sound that Head is known for. My only gripe is that it sounds a bit too much like a Red record and I think this is due mainly to the production value and the fact the Welch credits Rouche with co-writing some of this new material (Rouche was in fact a guitarist in Red for a while). Red is a great band and I don’t bring this point up in a negative way, I just feel that sometimes things can be overproduced and a bit of the “juice” gets squeezed out of it. I’ve heard some raw demos and riff recordings Head has done in the past and would almost prefer a raw stripped down production for him to really capture that energy.

All in all this is a really great E.P. and if you like big guitars this is for you! If you like to be inspired and uplifted by lyrics that speak to the soul, then this is for you! If you’re a Korn fan or a DEVO fan then you better snag this one up too because these boys poured all kinds of heart and soul into these five songs and you’ll want to be one of the first to own this. You’ll see for yourself that Chemicals ROCKS and for Brian and the rest of the fellas in Love and Death, I believe that with this release, life is about to get even peachier.

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