2021 will see Love and Death return with Perfectly Preserved, a blistering but accessible full-length follow-up, driven by the spiritual resilience inherent in the first record, combined with an even starker depiction of real-life struggle. Anger, broken relationships, lowered self-worth, and the collision of optimistic values with oppressive systems are all on display, from the arresting refrains of “Tragedy,” “Death of Us,” and “Affliction,” to the bold, conqueror driven anthem of “White Flag”.
Love and Death harness soaring melodies and crushing riffs, weaponizing them like a supernatural dagger to strike at the blackened heart of disillusionment from both within and without. With an instantly recognizable relatability, for anyone who has felt discarded or without value, the band crafts invigorating anthems filled with earnest pleas for mercy and certainty amidst the chaos of an uncertain world. This is heavy music to vigorously confront depression, heartbreak, and pain.
The band began with similar raw, authentic emotional honesty to what drove singer/guitarist Brian “Head” Welch to multiplatinum and Grammy Award winning heights as a cofounder of genre trailblazers Korn. Forged as an outlet for recovery and redemption in a season of change, the creation of Love and Death resulted in the powerful and dynamic 2013 debut Between Here & Lost. The album spoke plainly to the hearts of similarly disenfranchised fans all across the world.
Perfectly Preserved marks the introduction of guitarist, bassist and co-songwriter Jasen Rauch as a full-fledged member of the band, as well as second time producer for Love and Death (co-produced by Joe Rickard). Jasen, best known as an integral part of chart-topping rockers Breaking Benjamin, produced Love and Death’s first album in 2013. The duo first met a year or two after the release of Head’s solo album, Save Me from Myself (2008). As Head experimented with synthesizers, it was Rauch who encouraged him to pick up his guitar and churn out new riffs.
“Jasen and I started writing together. I was trying to do new things, writing music on a keyboard at my house,” Welch recalls. “I credit him with the rediscovery of my love for the guitar.”
Love and Death charge into this new chapter with a definitive lineup, which sees Head and Jasen side by side with the band’s original guitarist, JR Bareis, also on vocals and guitar, and powerhouse drummer Isaiah Perez. It was a perfect storm of friendship and creativity, as they all worked on the album in Nashville, Los Angeles, and Chicago, over several years.
Like A Perfect Circle or Stone Sour, Love and Death isn’t a “side project” or replacement for the guys’ respective bands. It’s an extension and companion, offering each of them a unique outlet to explore different aspects of their creative passions. “There are certain things we can do melodically in Love and Death that might not work in Korn,” Rauch explains. “For me, there are certain creative risks I can take with the arrangements and production that wouldn’t fit with Breaking Benjamin. In this band, we don’t worry about how long a song might be, for example.”
It’s also an opportunity for further collaboration with their friends from other bands. “The Hunter” features Jasen’s Breaking Benjamin bandmate (and solo artist) Keith Wallen, who was also a major co-writer on the project.And Longtime comrade Lacey Sturm, formerly of Flyleaf, sings on a metallic rendition of a surprising pop cover.
As with the “Lo Lamento” single released in 2016, Bareis steps up vocally, sharing frontman duties with Welch, whose own delivery draws on jaw-dropping life experience. From the heights of rock stardom to the depths of addiction, through an exciting resurrection to the daily battle to stay above water, every moment of truth is evident in his brutally honest screams. Bareis, by contrast, delivers anthemic and even haunting melodic vocals.
“Everybody knows my foundation,” says Welch, regarding the contrast in lyrical themes between Perfectly Preserved and the first Love and Death album. “I feel like what our world needs most in this very unique moment in time are real storiesabout overcoming struggle. These are honest songs co-written by our group of friends targeting depression/mental health, challenging relationships, trauma, loneliness, and related issues.”
As their fans have learned to expect, Love and Death is fearless in its open examination of contradictions and failure, making confessional music with an underlying anchor of purpose and hope. Like the band’s very moniker suggests, both ‘Love’ and ‘Death’ are very present in all that they do.
Brian “Head” Welch –Vocals, Guitar
Jasen Rauch – Bass
JR Bareis – Guitar, Vocals
Isaiah Perez – Drums
- Perfectly Preserved (2021)
- Between Here & Lost (2013)