ALBUM REVIEW – “Blood Work” by Texas In July

Metalcore is a tricky tricky genre to be a part of these days. More bands are tuning lower and lower, relying more on studio “tricks”, and replacing real instruments with samples or emulators. The amount of thought required to keep up with the genre keeps getting lower and lower, being mainstream and “brutal” are now somehow synonymous. It’s a shame because the bands that once made the genre so special are either washed up excuses of what they used to be (Miss May I) or regrettably pushed to the background (Converge, Misery Signals).

Texas In July has always been stuck in the shadow of that other Lancaster, PA metalcore band: August Burns Red. Now that ABR has 700% transcended their origin and small town status, it’s become high time for TIJ to get some of the same status. At a time when metalcore is getting swallowed up by mediocrity, the opportunity for a band to stand up and take the genre by storm is nigh.

The album opener “Broken Soul” starts things off exactly right. This song is full of so many things that TIJ needs to push themselves and the genre forward. It’s punishing, fast paced, the choruses are epic and dark, the breakdowns are well placed, and finally there’s that AWESOME Southern groove that closes out the song. The following “Sweetest Poison” is an immediate regression, bringing little to the table and sounding way too generic for anyone’s good. The almost instant transition from the rip start intro to the first breakdown-not even 30 seconds into the song, wow-into the pre-chorus is super stale and formulaic. And even that driving “we took this from Leveler” intro has nothing really special to show for itself. The song as a whole feels like one giant ABR ripoff.

This brings up the immense issue that plagues Blood Work. To be plain and honest, some/a lot/way too many of the parts are straight up redone August Burns Red songs. Granted ABR’s last two records were full of enough cheesy leads for a thousand bands, but that’s beside the point.  This sort of writing is unacceptable, and can’t even be blamed on geography, since This Or the Apocalypse-the third Lancaster metal Musketeer-have long established and followed their own distinct sound for eons. Texas seem to have no issue borrowing from them either, seeing as the opening of “Inner Demons” is an almost shot for shot remake of TOTA’s “Deadringer”.

There is so much great material throughout this record that when TIJ borrows from other bands, especially ABR-who if anything they should be fighting to distance themselves from-it just doesn’t make sense. How about the opening of “Defenseless”? That crushing verse-breakdown section? Who cares if it strays really close to being a trope, it sounds immense, and sets the tone for song with a sound that Texas ought to shoot for more often. Dark, intense, raw and with just enough insanity to keep listeners on their toes. What about “Pseudo Self” and that incredible high tension build to the end breakdown? Or the ending half of the title track? Or the highly masturbatory and totally awesome “Decamilli”? The merciless chanting of “Nooses”?

There are some amazing songs on Blood Work but sometimes it feels like TIJ just aren’t willing to let go of some their roots to really make a record that would do for them what Messengers did for ABR . Ironically if there’s a band that could make another Messengers it’s definitely Texas In July, but again, besides the point.  TIJ are without a doubt trying hard to at least stand out from peers, the amount of technical precision and extra-genre concepts throughout Blood Work are quite impressive.

This being said no one is going to take the band seriously if they keep writing to formulas and occasionally straight up ripping off their counterparts. Yes Blood Work is more than just a solid record, it’s a very good record even, as the rating shows, but the foundation isn’t founded quite as solidly as it could be or ought to be. Maybe next time we’ll see a continuation of this trend in the Texas In July sound, but then again, after four albums, is there any hope? Let’s hope so.


Max Robison

Texas In July

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  1. [PHOTO GALLERY] After The Burial, Texas In July, I Declare War, & More – W. Springfield, VA – 09/28/14 | RichardThinks.Org - October 3, 2014

    […] enjoyed being over the audience while some fans jumped up to sing along to their songs. Be sure to check out our review of Texas In July’s latest album, […]

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