Post-hardcore outfit Slaves mark the end of a chapter with the release of ‘To Better Days’, their fourth album and final body of work to be released under the band’s current name.
With the joining of now permanent vocalist Matt McAndrew into the fold, the five-piece have decided to challenge a new path with whatever comes next; new face, new name, new lease of life.
‘Prayers’ is energetic from the get-go, with babbling electronic digits and that classically resonant chorus. McAndrew relishes in his introduction, shaking hands with the band’s already chunky discography as if to say “Nice to meet you. You aren’t ready for what’s coming.” ‘Witch Hunt’ isn’t too dissimilar either, walking with a gait of significant smoothness.
The band quickly settle into the record, with ‘Talk To A Friend’ sporting scratchy guitar riffs and understated beats that are equal parts bark and bite. Its structure alone isn’t breathtaking, but, like those before it, it’s a pretty enjoyable listen – in spite of the bleak lyrical content, that is.
Lead single ‘Heavier’ is one of the strongest tracks that the band bring to the table in this release; a surefire killer when live shows return to normal. Though its verses carry the track lyrically, the froth of techno elements that brims at the eyes of the song is really effective. It’s melancholy, almost, and ‘Cursed’ braves the same vein with its solemn vocals and guitars that pinch at your skin.
The conventional dial down we expect thus far in a full-length, ‘Clean Again’ cuts with the acidity of a stripped-back pop release, direct, exposed, and long lasting. It doesn’t feel watered down at the expense of little instrumentation, and the subject matter is one of personality, so much so that it’s mere inclusion here is commendable.
With some of its most potent stabs, final tracks ‘Secrets’ and ‘Like I Do’, this record couldn’t do more justice to the five-piece and their achievements under the banner of Slaves. In its thirteen tracks, it lays the bed for new beginnings, all while tipping its condolences to what the band once was in a tragic acknowledgment of their current name’s weight.
‘To Better Days’ is self-explanatory. It celebrates feats, mourns overdue changes, and gives the band the blessing that they needed to move on. And move on they will, with more drive than ever.