NEPA Scene Staff

Korn and Breaking Benjamin members release new Love and Death album, ‘Perfectly Preserved’

Korn and Breaking Benjamin members release new Love and Death album, ‘Perfectly Preserved’
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From a press release:

Metal band Love and Death, led by Brian “Head” Welch of Korn and featuring Breaking Benjamin lead guitarist Jasen Rauch as a new full-time member of the group, released their highly anticipated new album “Perfectly Preserved” last Friday, Feb. 12.

That night, they celebrated their first album in eight years with a globally streamed concert event that included guest performances from Breaking Benjamin rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Keith Wallen, ex-Flyleaf singer Lacey Sturm, and Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire.

“I’m actually quite shocked that we are going to pull off such an amazing event with some special very guests who live in different states – all during a worldwide pandemic!” Welch said.

Love and Death released three tracks from “Perfectly Preserved” prior to its release. The first single, “Down,” debuted at No. 32 on active rock radio, making it one of the most added tracks on the format that week. “White Flag” featuring Ryan Hayes of Righteous Vendetta and “The Hunter” featuring Keith Wallen followed, garnering an impressive 2.13 million combined streams.

Love and Death harness soaring melodies and crushing riffs, weaponizing them like a supernatural dagger to strike at the blackened heart of disillusionment from both within and without. With an instantly recognizable relatability for anyone who has felt discarded or without value, the band crafts invigorating anthems filled with earnest pleas for mercy and certainty amidst the chaos of an uncertain world. This is heavy music to vigorously confront depression, heartbreak, and pain.

The band began with the similar raw, authentic emotional honesty that drove singer/guitarist Brian “Head” Welch to multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning heights as a co-founder of genre trailblazers Korn. Forged as an outlet for recovery and redemption in a season of change, the creation of Love and Death resulted in the powerful and dynamic 2013 debut “Between Here & Lost.” The album spoke plainly to the hearts of similarly disenfranchised fans all across the world.

Love and Death has returned with “Perfectly Preserved,” a blistering but accessible full-length follow-up, driven by the spiritual resilience inherent in the first record, combined with an even starker depiction of real-life struggle. Anger, broken relationships, lowered self-worth, and the collision of optimistic values with oppressive systems are all on display, from the arresting refrains of “Tragedy,” “Death of Us,” and “Affliction” to the bold, conqueror-driven anthem of “White Flag.”

“Perfectly Preserved” marks the introduction of guitarist, bassist, and co-songwriter Jasen Rauch as a full-fledged member of the band, as well as second-time producer for Love and Death (co-produced by Joe Rickard). Best known as an integral part of chart-topping Wilkes-Barre rockers Breaking Benjamin, Rauch produced Love and Death’s first album in 2013. The duo first met a year or two after the release of Welch’s 2008 solo album, “Save Me from Myself,” and in early 2020, Korn and Breaking Benjamin co-headlined a tour together that kicked off with a concert at the PPL Center in Allentown on Jan. 23.

As Welch experimented with synthesizers on his own, it was Rauch who encouraged him to pick up his guitar and churn out new riffs.

“Jasen and I started writing together. I was trying to do new things, writing music on a keyboard at my house,” Welch recalled. “I credit him with the rediscovery of my love for the guitar.”

Love and Death charge into this new chapter with a definitive lineup, which sees Welch and Rauch side by side with the band’s original guitarist, JR Bareis, also on vocals and guitar, and powerhouse drummer Isaiah Perez. It was a perfect storm of friendship and creativity as they all worked on the album in Nashville, Los Angeles, and Chicago over several years.

Like A Perfect Circle or Stone Sour, Love and Death isn’t a “side project” or replacement for the guys’ respective bands. It’s an extension and companion, offering each of them a unique outlet to explore different aspects of their creative passions.

“There are certain things we can do melodically in Love and Death that might not work in Korn,” Rauch explained. “For me, there are certain creative risks I can take with the arrangements and production that wouldn’t fit with Breaking Benjamin. In this band, we don’t worry about how long a song might be, for example.”

It’s also an opportunity for further collaboration with their friends from other bands. “The Hunter” features Rauch’s Breaking Benjamin bandmate (and solo artist) Keith Wallen, who was also a major co-writer on the project. And longtime comrade Lacey Sturm, formerly of Flyleaf, sings on a metallic rendition of a surprising pop cover.

As with the 2016 single “Lo Lamento,” Bareis steps up vocally, sharing frontman duties with Welch, whose own delivery draws on jaw-dropping life experience. From the heights of rock stardom to the depths of addiction, through an exciting resurrection to the daily battle to stay above water, every moment of truth is evident in his brutally honest screams. Bareis, by contrast, delivers anthemic and even haunting melodic vocals.

“Everybody knows my foundation,” Welch said, regarding the contrast in lyrical themes between “Perfectly Preserved” and the first Love and Death album. “I feel like what our world needs most in this very unique moment in time are real stories about overcoming struggle. These are honest songs co-written by our group of friends targeting depression/mental health, challenging relationships, trauma, loneliness, and related issues.”

As their fans have learned to expect, Love and Death is fearless in its open examination of contradictions and failure, making confessional music with an underlying anchor of purpose and hope. Like the band’s very moniker suggests, both love and death are very present in all that they do.