Personnel: Crystal Ignite (vocals); Koichi Fukuda (guitar, keyboards); Mark Dalbeth (bass guitar); Tosha Jones (drums).
Recording information: Los Angeles, California.
Expanding on their heavy rock and nu-metal-inspired debut, Connection, Los Angeles-via-Melbourne's Bellusira return with sophomore effort The Healing (Pavement Entertainment). With the addition of new drummer Tosha Jones and former Static-X guitarist Koichi Fukuda, the band's sound is more cohesive and controlled. Along with more expansive production, Bellusira have doubled down on the intensity and focused their darkness into a ferocious collection of songs. Whereas moments of their debut felt almost breezy and uptempo, The Healing digs uncomfortably deep and the results are emotional, urgent, and pummeling. Crystal Ignite snarls and growls with a painful tension bubbling below the surface and soars with a new clarity on her high notes. An advocate and supporter of abuse survivors, she pleads "Don't give in to the fight/There is beauty in the dark" on album opener "The Fight," alluding to the dichotomy of Bellusira's name (a combo of the Latin for "beauty" and "anger") and their hopeful message. The songs empower through shared pain and strength of resolve. Mark Dalbeth's basslines provide a sinister lurching undertone to each track, while Fukuda's sharp pop-metal sensibilities (no doubt honed with his former band) add a crisp brightness to keep the pace moving, most notably on "Dance with Me" and "The Fire Song." However, it's not all doom and gloom: on standout ballads "Pieces" and "The Healing," Ignite lays it all bare with these delicate confessionals. Without the brutal crush of the band's typical sound, the pure hurt in her lyrics shines. When she sings "You're stronger than you know," she's healing herself as much as her fans. ~ Neil Z. Yeung