ALBUM: Slaves – Routine Breathing
August 21st, 2015
Drama seems to be completely unavoidable for Jonny Craig. Leading himself down paths of self-destruction whilst a part of his previous efforts Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance, almost imploding the former of the two along with him, Craig went into rehab, fixed himself up, and focused on his solo career. Not long after he formed Slaves, through which he released the intent to apologise for his wrong doings through their debut ‘Through Art We Are All Equals’ last year.
Just over a year later, we’re greeted with the band’s sophomore output, ‘Routine Breathing’, but it seems the life of a soap opera still follows Craig. Only a few dates into Vans Warped Tour, the band were kicked off of the rest of the run along with a fall tour due to some inappropriate behaviour and, with intended tour merch costs seemingly yet to be covered, bankruptcy was also looming. Yet, from the dedication of their fans, buying their merch after an online plea, Slaves went from the red and into the black and, as a thanks, brought the release of album number two ahead a couple of months early.
Prior to its release, Slaves stated their new record would be like their debut but “on steroids”, and they’re not wrong. ‘Routine Breathing’ comes in with 15 tracks that daren’t deviate too much from the style they cemented themselves in thus far, only this time around they’ve focused on the choruses. You can tell this is an album they’ve wanted to deliver more call-to-arms moments, and the wailing sensational vocals of Craig really help to bring them to life alongside the beefy guitar lines that back him.
However, ‘Routine Breathing’ is littered with pitfalls, with the main one being its runtime. This album could easily have had a few tracks cut from the final product, even ending on the begging to be live favourite ‘Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out?’, and not feel like it’s dragging as one overdrawn song in places.
This is a crutch that is somewhat minimised and softened by the regular vocal features, with Spencer Chamberlain (Underoath/Sleepwave) making an impressive input on ‘Who Saves The Saviour?’, but also leaves you to think that without all of these additional vocalists throughout the album’s run through that there’d be too little differentiation to keep you focused and interested in the album from start-to-finish.
Indeed, ‘Routine Breathing’ is a step forward for Slaves, and it’s clear that they’re going for the more grand and epic choruses to go with their, if we’re being honest, stagnant take on the post-hardcore genre. This is only given them one step forward though, and with album number three there’s going to be a need for notable progression to avoid them being awashed with the plethora of bands trying to ascend to the surface for survival. Slaves need a breath of fresh air just as much as we do.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)