Kill The Lights is the newest metal supergroup from Fearless Records. The band is made up of members of deceptively heavy, underrated bands including Michael “Moose” Thomas (original drummer of Bullet For My Valentine), guitarist Jordan Wheelan (Still Remains) and frontman James Clark (Throw the Fight). The Sinner is unapologetic and one of the most intense albums I’ve spun in 2020 so far. With this much talent, it seems unfair to say this band is a surprise; but I wouldn’t hesitate to say that they are on a path to rapid superstardom in the metal world.
The album kicks off with “Shed My Skin,” which was featured in the intro to the Metal Thought’s Takeover episode of Spinning Thoughts (shout out to Angelo’s creativity)! This song really grabs your attention. The introduction is well done, unique and really starts the album off on a positive note, grabbing your attention. From there, it’s intense as hell. “Moose” is one of the best drummers in metal and those signature beats add an extra element of heavy. The melodic dueling guitar solos blew my mind, but don’t let that overshadow Clark’s vocal performance, the highlight of the track and possibly the album. The heavy growls are intense and the clean vocals show dynamic range and skill. The chorus here is catchy and a quick change from the heavy vocals in the verse. This song has it all and was certainly enough to get me dialed in for what was to follow.
“The Faceless” is easily one of my favorite songs on the album. The band independently released this as a demo, catching the attention of Fearless Records and leading to a quick signing. The tempo is insane and the beat is absolutely wild. It has a thrash feel that really rips and the guitar work steals the show. Add a chorus that has an arena-worthy chant that is sure to get stuck in your head for days and you have another absolute banger to push this album forward. “Watch You Fall” has an anthemic feel with huge moments and over-the-top riffs drive this track in what is sure to be one of the more commercially successful tracks on the effort. The chorus has a great melody to it with crossover appeal.
“Through the Night” kicks off with a wide open, hollow intro. The song takes a slower pace and really highlights the vocal range and ability of Clark. The verses and chorus feature all clean vocals for the first time on the album clean. The verses, supplemented with clean guitar runs, offer a build to a chorus that is still melodic and heavy, in full spirit of the album. It gives me an 80s hair metal vibe, coupled with some hints of Metallica’s “The Unforgiven,” which is always an amazing addition to an album.
Something about the opening riff to “Open Your Eyes” grabs me every time. This song is back to the feverish pace of the early part of the album. One of the most unique elements to this song is the unexpected high note early on in the chorus, in addition to the vocals pushing through in a major key, even though the lead riff keeps driving in a minor key. The solo work is amazing, slowing down to half-time with the very busy lead riff echoing in the background.
“Plagues” is a reflection on Clark’s battle with cancer. From a lyrical perspective, it’s as intense as it gets and is deep as hell. Musically, the heavy riff with the back and forth between the guitar and bass is absolutely amazing. The chorus is larger-than-life and I felt the pain with each listen. The song is intense and is a real highlight on the album. “Tear Me Apart” is a softer track, with the verses featuring an acoustic guitar, and is perfectly placed in the center of the album. For what this song is, the full-band chorus is surprisingly heavy, compared to how songs in this vein typically build. It’s catchy and has an obvious place as a transition for the album or live show. “The Enemy” picks the pace right back up, housing a spectacular chorus. The melody and vocals are on point, but the initial moment when the bass and drums drop, leaving a hollow and dissonant ring for the vocals to be highlighted over guitar, gives me chills when I hear it.
Something about “Sober” stands out in a big way. It has a heavy growl and push in the verse that boasts a Pantera-esque feel and a massive chorus. The bridge is unique, but quick, and features some of the best vocal harmonies I’ve heard in years over a wide-open ringing guitar riff in one of the biggest moments on the album. It’s easy to imagine this song being the one that puts Kill The Lights on the map, if “The Faceless” doesn’t accomplish that first. “Rest” has a standout piano feature that sets it apart, creating the tone early, echoing throughout. Another massive chorus and limited heavy vocals add the crossover appeal that will really work for this band in the long run. The album closes with “Unmoved,” starting with a solid bass riff then absolutely tears into the same riff on a distorted guitar with some haunting chants. The chorus is everything I hoped for it to be as the final hook on the album. It’s over-the-top and really just a massive wall of sound.
This album was a total surprise to me, but given the cast it really shouldn’t have been. Don’t sleep on Kill The Lights. The Sinner is everything that draws me to heavy music today. The album came out of nowhere to end up in contention for album of the year as we hit the final stretch of 2020. Don’t wait to check this one out!