Texas In July: Bloodwork review

Pennsylvania metalcore band Texas in July has been on grinding on the scene since 2007. Over the course of their tenure, the guys have managed to develop a technicality that is unlike many of their cotemporaries. Now with their third release on Equal Vision Records the guys are bringing in that trademark once again to create Bloodwork. Released on September 16, Bloodwork makes their latest running leap at greatness and the results are interesting, to say the least. Marking the first chapter of this work is “Broken Soul” which rips into an unassailable fury of drums and strings that light up, and at times almost engulf, JT Cavey’s vocals. The heavy string work of guitarists Cameron Welsh and Chris Davis alongside bassist Ben Witkowski take center stage as they lay the groundwork for this track. “Sweetest Poison” follows suit with its rollicking percussion and serrated string breakdowns. The first chorus breaks from the guttural and takes temporary flight as it levels, mellows and soars. Also, about half way in things mellow out for a beat with just Cavey’s screams and commands overtop. Instrumentally sound and vocally commanding, this song definitely diversifies their sound at this point. Not ones to lose traction, Texas in July move right back into the full-contact assault they live and die on. The technical complexities and interplay is phenomenal in the way they expertly bring forth and combine the best in every member. In tracks like “Pseudo Self,” “Defenseless” and “The Void,” which combine the middle of the album, the guys have proficiently mixed all their best attributes. The drum work of Adam Gray is especially impressive in “The Void” with the way he seems to work directly with Witkowski to create an undeniable percussive aggression that powers the entirety of the track. The composition of the album is something to be admired with the structure the guys have built for each layer of work. The mellow breakdown in “Inner Demons” creates a moment of peace that is accented by the rhythmic beats of Gray. It is then the perfect sounding board for Cavey’s vocal dominance to be featured as they then roll into an incendiary string symphony that is almost romantic in the way that it makes you fall in love with the song. This rolls skillfully into the entirely instrumental track “Decamilli” which truly puts Grays drum skills on display before devoting the second half back to the singing strings. It is smooth, effortless and easily something you’ll want to put on repeat, like a musical palate cleanser. “Nooses” snap you back into the swing of things with its grinding vocals and well-metered tech-heavy breakdowns. This is one of those dangerous songs that either flies or falls on the skills of its performers. One wrong note or ill-timed transition could have easily ruined this song, and still could when performed live, but thankfully the band’s sense of timing seems to be on point, and they execute it effortlessly. The same sentiment goes for “The Tightrope” as it is constructed with a kind of broken stained glass elegance that makes it both beautiful and dangerous. Closing out the album is its title track “Bloodwork,” and the bouncing yet bold upstart. There is almost something Trivium-like about the development of this song and the approach of the guitar sound as it rises and slows. The moments of peace make this song a dynamo in its delivery and digestion, the determination is palpable and the effect is visceral. Although it is a definitive metalcore album and there are some typical industry tricks and methodologies in certain places, some things can’t be avoided. It is the way in which the guys distinguish themselves from the flock that makes all the difference and with Bloodwork; the guys have definitely marked their territory. Between their glorious bastardization of “the norm” and their diverse adaptation of technical skills, the men of Texas in July have created a tour de force for fans to enjoy, newcomers to devour and critics to choke on.