Eight years after their debut album, Between Here and Lost, Love and Death have released a new album full of grit and honesty. Perfectly Preserved takes the rugged truth of the Love and Death’s debut release and adds a greater chorus of voices. The metal background of Brian “Head” Welch and J.R. Bareis mixed with the cleaner tones of Breaking Benjamin’s Jasen Rauch and Keith Wallen create a unique auditory journey through the trials of life.
The album’s prelude begins with a simple, eerie combination of piano and cello. As a single voice joins in and blends with the cello, “Infamy” begins to transition into peaceful exuberance. The cello expands into layers of strings as more voices join in. The track builds and slowly breaks into a chorus of ghostly vocalizations before fading out into the abyss.
“Tragedy” begins with heavy guitar riffs and an unsettling high-frequency drone. With heaviness in both style and lyrics, the song embodies the cage of trauma:
“I am only human
Can’t face this wounded heart
I stand here still unwoven
Held together yet falling apart”
Starting with more drones and uneasy guitar leads, “Down” briefly builds with drums before quickly coming alive. The intensity of the music ebbs and flows, creating a fitting backdrop for the story of being buried under the weight of life.
The next track is a powerful and catchy re-imagining of DJ Snake and Justin Bieber’s “Let Me Love You.” After a heavy intro, J.R. Bareis takes the lead on vocals, accompanied by Lacey Sturm. Brian Welch joins in as the song builds from breakdown to release.
Coming in with angry riffs, “Death of Us” crafts a picture of heartbreak at the ending of a relationship. The music intensifies throughout the pre-chorus, then opens in the chorus, allowing the full weight of the words to shine through:
“Running on borrowed time
There’s nothing left of us (but betrayal)
Looking for a sign to guide the rest of us
The death of us”
Ambient guitar tones and static begin to usher in “Slow Fire” before the song bursts to life with signature heaviness. Another song about the end of a relationship, this one focuses on the chaos of breaking free from co-dependency.
“The Hunter” rushes in with a growling riff. The guitars give way into a clean reverb as Keith Wallen begins to sing: “Bleeding like a child without a mother, we see the same shades but different colors…” The full strength of distorted guitars and drums flow in the pre-chorus and chorus. The calm returns briefly in the second verse before giving way to a bridge that musically reflects the chaotic world the lyrics describe.
Similar to “Slow Fire,” “Lo Lamento” begins with calming clean guitar before drums bring the distortion to the forefront. Welch and Bareis trade vocals, sharing a story of reluctant acceptance while processing mistakes that led to greater heartbreak. “Affliction” sets the stage with harmonics and panned riffs, creating a soundscape to display the conflicted tone of the lyrics. This song captures the reality of life inside an afflicted mind:
“Living the dream
Living the lie
Living it up in the nightmare
Falling in love
Sweeping the pieces of my broken heart”
The intro to the album’s coda matches the eerily calming prelude. A growling riff kicks in shortly before the vocals. The music and lyrics match intensity as a conquering force, refusing to surrender to low expectations. Righteous Vendetta’s Ryan Hayes joins in for the breakdown, bringing the album to a powerful finish:
“Tell me, I can’t destroy your empire
Tell me, I won’t fuel the fire
Tell me, I won’t burn the white flag
Burn it again, burn it again, burn it all”
Perfectly Preserved is a journey through the hell of the human condition. From ending relationships, conflicted minds, and drowning in the burden of life, this album carries a heaviness greater than that of the music. However, there can be no joy without pain and no peace without chaos. Love and Death have profoundly captured the reality of resilience, acceptance, and hope within the darkness of life.
Related Artists: Breaking Benjamin, Righteous Vendetta, Spoken