August Spies is the new solo project from Justin Schlosberg. Those might know him as the front man from the English post-hardcore band Hell Is For Heroes, however, his first EP titled Corruption of The Human Heart is a clear deviation from his previous work. The EP is filled with melancholic, bittersweet songs about darkness, addiction, love, and loss. Those who appreciate the broody sounds of Tom Waits, Nick Cave or Matt Berninger (The National) will instantly enjoy these intimate songs as Schlosberg takes his voice and songwriting powers in a new creative direction.
“This Is How It Ends” is the lead single from August Spies and from the beginning drums and slightly distorted guitar strokes, you know this is a totally different but welcoming sound from Schlosberg. The grand and immersive baritone vocals describe a tale of a tragic romance which is then solidified when Schlosberg belts out the words “stand by my side” to begin this saddened but triumphant chorus line. Towards the end of the song, the pain we hear in the vocals are taken over by a screeching guitar solo, which matches the tone of the tragic love anthem.
Throughout Corruption of The Human Heart the songs are complex and filled with conflicting emotions. One moment you will be reminded of depressed emotions, then next rejoicing in a certain joy. “Accidents Happen” proves this when it starts with a slow driven piano slowly building to an uplifting climax filled by reverbed guitar melodies and violin.
The title track “Corruption of The Human Heart” steps more into the folk territory as Schlosberg’s vocals are joined with soft female vocals to perform a dramatic duet. The story between both vocalists is so profound and their voices complement each other, which makes me want to hear more from the two of them. However, the song is placed in the middle of the EP and because of its tonal shift from the previous two songs, it, unfortunately, becomes the weakest of the five tracks.
Listening to the EP you may find yourself overcome by hopelessness, but this is when “Put Your Hands Together” comes in perfectly timed and takes you to a more optimistic place. It might be the most cheerful of all because of the use of a singing choir underneath Schlosberg’s vocals. The repetition of the choirs’ chants establishes an empowering feeling leaving you on a high.
The last track “You Killed My Love” finishes the EP with a dark and slow melody. The piano repeats this heart-breaking melody and becomes even more theatrical when Schlosberg’s somber vocals climb to a powerful loud punch, which then eventually and slowly dissipates as the song ends.
Corruption of The Human Heart not only showcases Schlosberg’s full talents as a dynamic vocalist and songwriter but his ability to capture moments of deep sorrow in ways that make the listener feel inspired. Schlosberg’s August Spies is an exciting solo project that I will be eagerly waiting to hear more from.