Jason Wisdom has always been a little bit of a hero to me. Not only does he sport a healthy helping of facial hair, have a scream equivalent to a lion’s roar, and an affinity for the most underrated instrument in modern metal music, but Jason is also a top tier human being. Thinking back on some of the after show Denny’s hangs we’ve had and the way some of his lyrics have impacted me over the years always brings a smile to my face.
With the past history of Wisdom in mind, when I heard the former Becoming the Archetype vocalist was releasing a new album, I knew I had to check it out; even with such a drastic change in genre from what I had come to love with BTA. However, Death Therapy is is very intentional in its differences from Becoming the Archetype.
First and foremost, the opening track on the album, Until Then, is sure to turn some heads of those familiar with Wisdom’s beast-like roar. Not only does the track start of with reverb laden keyboards and a plodding, heavily digitized drum beat, but Jason chooses to use a soft croon for the majority of the track. Clocking in at just under two minutes, Until Then serves not only to show listeners that Jason Wisdom is turning over a new leaf, but that this album is going to be much more than heavy industrial beats.
Self Mind Dead, is the first glimpse into what we’ve come to know Wisdom for. Hitting hard and aggressively, pulsing bass chords dominate this track with one of the fiercest riffs on the album, while the electronics serve to add ethereal and beautiful depth to the ferocity. Late in the track, Project 86 frontman, Andrew Schwab makes a memorable guest spot as his signature whisper morphs into screams, adding the extra muscle to make this track an instant metal classic.
While the opening two tracks of the album were memorable and had my interest piqued, The Lie is what made me know Death Therapy was something truly unique and special. Starting off with electronic chirps and blips sounding straight from the Bladerunner soundtrack, the track quickly progresses to some of the meanest riffs the album has to offer as Wisdom bellows, “Go!”. The Lie takes the best the band has to offer and mixes it into one complete package with tight, in the pocket drumming, decadent riffs, and an eclectic blend of electronics. Another standout aspect of the single is that Wisdom mixes up his vocal delivery a bit; choosing to stick closer to singing on the verses, while letting screams loose during the “chorus” of the track.
Next up comes the Tour de Force of Prodigal and Slow Dance (with Death), two more stand out tracks on the album. Prodigal is an industrial romp, complete with a sampled movie line to kick things off and some of the most intricately layered electronics. Additionally, the drums on the track prove that Death Therapy is not just the Jason Wisdom show, as the percussion smoothly transitions from pulsing hi-hat grooves to stop/start battering. Slow Dance (with Death) features one of the biggest bass grooves on the album, forcing the listener to bob their head as Wisdom gutturally grows, “I want to live”.
The album ends strong with two instrumental tracks – The Belmont Family Curse (Pt. 1: Night) and (Pt. 2: Day). These two tracks are pure gems that I found myself playing on repeat throughout the day at work. Pt. 1: Night plays out like the soundtrack to a zombie massacre; starting out with haunting electronics and hellish distorted bass chords. When the battering drum beat comes in, as the listener, you can feel your heart begin to race as the electronics eerily eek out of your speakers before culminating into a full scale headbanger. On the flip side, Pt. 2: Day embraces the fun side of the electronic spectrum, choosing to unashamedly draw 8-bit influence from the Castlevania video game series (Complete with some of the random blips and beeps that filled our childhood). While feeling slightly out of place given the darker feel of the rest of the album, Pt. 2 is what embodies Death Therapy – Reinventing the wheel by whatever means they feel like.
Overall “The Storm Before the Calm” is among the strongest albums of 2017, showing a bright future and limitless possibilities for an already established metal frontman. Even if electronics are not quite in your listening wheelhouse, yet you like heavy music, do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on this unique gem.