Heavy music exists independent of eras, trends, and borders. It resonates worldwide on the most primal and natural level. Kill The Lights similarly transcend creative and physical boundaries. Uniting original Bullet For My Valentine co-founder Michael “Moose” Thomas [drums] with Throw The Fight frontman James Clark [vocals], Jordan Whelan of Still Remains [guitar], Jason James [bass], and Travis Montgomery of Threat Signal [guitar], the group seamlessly bring a shared vision to life. Streamed over 1 million times in under a year and touted by Rock Sound, KERRANG!, Metal Hammer, and more, the quintet imprint tried-and-true metal with 21st century fire on their Fearless Records full-length debut, The Sinner.
“We all loved the idea of having some of those throwback elements with a fresh sound,” exclaims James. “We aimed for something classic either a 15-year-old or 50-year-old could enjoy. It came out naturally by virtue of us working together. It’s not contrived. We give reverence to our influences, but Kill The Lights is its own entity.”
“We simply made music with no pressure and wrote what naturally came out,” adds Moose.
Jordan agrees, “Writing and recording reminded me of how I felt when I cut my first demo at 17-years-old. It was special.”
Building on a long history, these musicians crossed paths many times throughout their respective careers. Bullet For My Valentine’s first stateside jaunt would be with Still Remains as various treks together followed over the years. Meanwhile, Throw The Fight supported Bullet For My Valentine in 2013.
During 2017, Moose texted Jordan and set off a chain of events that led to Kill The Lights.
“I was at home thinking about how far I’ve come from the place where I was brought up,” recalls Moose. “I couldn’t let go of all the passion and hard work, so I sent Jordan a text and asked if he wanted to do something. He started sending me ideas.”
“Around the same time, Moose put up a post on Facebook inquiring if anybody knew a good singer,” smiles James. “I replied that I did!”
Developing a bond, James, Jordan, and Moose wrote in Grand Rapids, MI. Adding Travis to the fold, the lineup solidified. Crossing the pond, the guys tracked what would become Sinner in secret alongside producer Colin Richardson [Machine Head, Fear Factory] during three sessions in the UK. They self-funded the process, maintaining its integrity and independence.
In order to introduce Kill The Lights, they independently unleashed the first single “The Faceless.” A stomping barrage of galloping riffs and fleet-fingered shredding, the track tallied half-a-million streams right out of the gate followed by “Watch You Fall” on its heels. As buzz grew, Fearless Records immediately reached out and signed them.
Now, Kill The Lights burst out of the gates with the 2020 single “Shed My Skin.” Following an eerie sample and a promise “There will be no mercy, there will be no surrender” punctuated by organ, it storms forward on a gnashing groove before culminating on an arena-ready chant, pummeling percussion, and nimble soloing.
“Lyrically, it’s about accepting anxiety and depression and recognizing life is very hard sometimes,” states James. “We shouldn’t be afraid to say it out loud though. People worry about portraying an image. This encourages everyone to let go of those self-imposed barriers and shed the skin. You push through it. In the lyrics, I admit, ‘I’m the same as you’. I dealt with stress at 15; I still deal with it. I’m trying to be transparent with listeners.”
The transparency reaches its apex on “Plagues.” In between trudging distortion, James details his battle with cancer via confessional verses and a guttural growl on the hooks.
“I had cancer ten years ago,” he sighs. “My grandmother and uncle both passed from it. ‘Plagues’ takes part in the conversation about chemotherapy, knowing someone who may be close to the end, the brokenhearted-ness you feel, but also the loss you have inside. When I was diagnosed, it put everything in perspective. The fear is constant. Coming out on the other side, my life changed. I’m married with kids. I don’t care about anything as long as I’m happy and healthy. We all need this reminder.”
On the other end of the spectrum, “Tear Me Apart” hinges on acoustic strumming and a robust beat, unfolding as an emotionally charged ballad. Everything culminates on “Unmoved” where clean guitar gives way to a final thrashing exorcism. The title Sinner suggests the expanse of these sonic extremes.
“On the exterior, you might look perfect, but we all deal with dark feelings,” James elaborates. “We all have issues. We’re all the same. We’re all sinners. We’ve lost so many people due to silent depression. We want to shine light on this in what we do.”
In the end, honesty elevates Kill The Lights as a modern metallic force.
“Being fans of metal, these songs mean a lot to us,” Moose leaves off. “We wanted to create a record of relatable music. We hope fans enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.”