By: Taylor Ritchie
The release of Pennsylvania metalcore band Texas In July’s fourth full-length album, Bloodwork, was a true testament of the band’s resilience in the face of potentially devastating change. After losing their former lead vocalist Alex Good and guitarist Christian Royer immediately prior to the recording of this album, the rest of the band had a difficult decision to make. While every member of the band plays an important role, losing a member as integral as the vocalist is something that many, if not most bands do not recover from. Bringing somebody else in to fill shoes that large can be a daunting endeavor, but luckily for Texas In July, they were able to pull it off with new vocalist J.T. Cavey, an impressive new album, and fresh sound.
Bloodwork wastes no time diving right into all of the elements I love so much about metalcore—epic breakdowns, snarling vocals, melodic and heavy stylization, and most importantly, an unmatched intensity that all fans of the genre recognize and adore. Texas In July checks off all of these
essentials and more, starting with the first track “Broken Soul” and ending on the eponymous final track, “Bloodwork” never letting up on their angsty, high-ferocity approach.
My only (albeit minor) complaint is the noticeable lack of clean vocals-a quality I’ve come to appreciate in metalcore and typically distinguishes bands that I like in the genre from bands that I love. There are doses of clean vocals and harmonies peppered in the record (I particularly liked the subtlety of them tailored into the second track, “Sweetest Poison”), but would have liked maybe just a tad more throughout the record as a whole. It’s merely a personal preference, as I think it helps to “break things up” and prevent songs from bleeding together and sounding too much the same. However, I must also quickly note that for a record nearly absent of clean vocals, they absolutely nailed it something that requires truly skilled composition to do, and they just might possibly be one of the best in the genre to do so. The songs, styles, and harmonies were not only distinguishable from one another, but truly unique, and made for a cohesive collection of songs that both complimented each other while listening in succession, and were also each fantastic standalone tracks.
In short, Texas In July triumphed in the face of a testing situation with Bloodwork, and not only created a record impressive for any metalcore band, but especially one that went through something as drastic as a major line-up change. What I appreciate most in this record is that they used this situation as fuel to carry on and record something meaningful-they did not skip a beat, but rather flawlessly and gracefully continued on and prevailed, releasing some of their best work yet. Be sure to check out Bloodwork and catch them on tour as they finish out the year playing shows all throughout the United States before embarking on European tour dates at the beginning of 2015. I have no doubt that their powerhouse vocals and grandiose sound translates well to the stage, and I can only imagine how intense their live performance is. Until I’m able to catch them at a show, I will continue to head-bang to Bloodwork like nobody’s business.