By Samuel Stevens
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Genre: Metalcore, Rock
Label: Fearless Records
Kill The Lights are one of the newest supergroups within the metal/rock scene and are now ready to leave their mark on the industry with their tremendous debut album, The Sinner. Kill The Lights is a stacked powerhouse made up of ex-Throw The Fight vocalist James Clark, ex-Bullet For My Valentine drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas, Threat Signal guitarist Travis Montgomery, and Still Remains guitarist Jordan Whelan. Kill The Lights first came about in 2017 after Moose sent Whelan a text message and the rest is history. To maintain the music’s integrity and their creative independence, The Sinner was entirely funded by the four of them, written in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and finally recorded in secret in the United Kingdom during three sessions with music producer Colin Richardson. Richardson is best known for his work with Fear Factory, Machine Head, Bullet For My Valentine, Slipknot, and Cannibal Corpse to name a few.
The Sinner opens with the track, “Shed My Skin.” The third single off the album and it begins with an eerie sample of a distorted voice declaring, “…there will be no mercy, there will be no surrender,” over top menacing organ, before the blistering track explodes with its massive percussion, an incredible guitar solo, and its infectious chant worthy chorus. “Shed My Skin” touches on the subject of accepting depression and anxiety, to accept the real you, and become comfortable with yourself in your own body. It’s about understanding that everyone is broken or flawed in some shape or form.
The following track, “The Faceless,” was Kill The Lights’ debut single released all the way back in January 2019, when the band were still an independent outfit. The blatant heavy metal track is completely loaded with a catchy energy trapped within its core. The track is for anyone who has spent their lives living in the shadows, has never felt good enough, or has just struggled to fit in or feel a part of something. This song is a message to the broken, it’s time for those people to be seen and it’s time for them to be heard. The album’s second single, “Watch You Fall,” is up next on the album. The track opens with a spectacular guitar riff before transforming into chugging riffs and Clark’s intense growls come in. Later on in the track, it features one of the most outstanding guitar solos on all of The Sinner. “Watch You Fall” is a track about cutting the toxic people out of your life that breed all sorts of negativity and only think of themselves.
The band’s most recent fifth single, “Through The Night,” is a powerful hard rock anthem that does teeter into their heavier side at points throughout the track. It’s a perfect mix of Kill The Lights’ two sides. The lyrics on The Sinner are all quite personal in their own right. However, “Through The Night,” is one of the most personal on the album to vocalist James Clark. The track is a glimpse into his mind and his on-going mental health struggles. The song captures the ups and downs of carrying the weight of the world upon ones shoulders, going from happy and energetic one minute to being paralyzed by fear and worry the next.
The Sinner hits its heaviest peak, both musically and lyrically with the album’s fourth single, “Plagues.” The song is a confessional track, and another personal track to Clark. “Plagues” is about Clark’s battle with cancer ten years ago, and the loss of his grandmother and uncle, who unfortunately lost their respective battles to the awful disease. “Plagues” takes part in the conversation about chemotherapy, when you begin to become aware someone who may be close to the end, the brokenhearted feeling you start to feel, but also the feeling of loss you have inside you. Musically, the track features the album’s heaviest instrumentation and one of Clark’s most impressive vocal performances on the album, shuffling between his soft clean singing, his raspy cleans, and his most guttural growls on all of The Sinner.
The remaining half of The Sinner features some of the softer side of Kill The Lights, while not entirely, and this starts with the track, “Tear Me Apart.” The track is a straight forward rock ballad fully driven by its acoustic guitar and minimalistic percussion that fuel the tracks emotion and it’s all rounded out with a beautiful melodic guitar solo. “The Enemy” features the same vibe “The Faceless” provides, with that endlessly infectious like chorus heard on “Shed My Skin.” All of this once more on the blistering, fun little number, “Sober.” The Sinner comes to a head with its finale track, “Unmoved.” Beginning with a slow, melodic clean driven intro, the song turns in an explosive manner with technically sound guitar riffs, explosive drums, and yet another infectious chorus. The song draws from many different aspects from the entire album and ties it into one fitting track to close it all out.
While Kill The Lights maintained their own creative freedom on this album, with no label or any third party for that matter, to tell them what or how to write their music, The Sinner in its entirely is best described at what possibly Bullet For My Valentine may have still been if they didn’t shift to various other aspects in their sound on their last few albums. The album doesn’t leave the confines of metal and rock. While such a stark comparison remains to Bullet For My Valentine, Kill The Lights pull from all over the metal and rock spectrum to shine as their own and they fall into their own identity with The Sinner. Between Clark’s impressive vocal performance on the album with his intense screams and growls to his raspy clean vocals, or to Montgomery’s and Whelan’s intense guitar work on The Sinner, and even to what is probably some of the best work Moose has laid down on drums in his career, the band came to turn heads with a record made with for all age groups and all fans of the metal and rock genres.