Lightworker, set to release “How the Beautiful Decay” on April 19

Lightworker Band

Life deals us pain and joy in equal measure. Lightworker explore and examine both of these extremes in their music. The San Francisco, CA trio—Joe Calderon [vocals], Grayson Hurd [guitar], and Ryan Johnson [drums]—pull inspiration from hardship. Balancing such dynamics, they ignite magnetic melodies atop an incendiary hybrid of bludgeoning metal and bold post-hardcore. Generating millions of streams, packing shows, and earning critical acclaim from The Pit, HM Magazine, and more, the band bring a dynamic vision to life on their second full-length offering, How The Beautiful Decay [Solid State Records]. 

“When we were first discussing the musical direction and what the record would be about, the title How The Beautiful Decay popped into my head and stayed there,” recalls Grayson of the band Lightworker. “‘Decay’ suggests changing and withering over time. Often, you don’t notice until years down the line that it started a long time ago. We noticed the decay happening in our lives. During the Pandemic, we felt decay because we couldn’t see friends and family and were stuck in our homes for a period. It wasn’t until we had begun writing the record when we noticed the change in our lives, for better or worse. Once we were really writing the record, the title applied to what we were going through and had gone through in the prior two years. The record is about recognizing the beauty in the world, but still acknowledging the darkness without fear. A big theme is doing whatever you can in order to get through it.”

Joe elaborates, “Mentally, I recognized my thoughts shifted. Physically, I could see the grays in my beard. Even though we’re discussing the deterioration of mental health and getting older across the record, life is still a blessing. We must take advantage of the fact we’re still able to breathe.”

Lightworker first emerged with the Resilience EP in 2017. Their signature sound cemented on 2020’s full-length debut, Fury by Failure. It tallied over a million streams powered up by the likes of “Empyre,” “The Willing Martyr,” and “Words Dissolve” [feat. Ryan Kirby of Fit For A King]. Meanwhile, a 2021 cover of the Hoobastank hit “Crawling in the Dark” maintained their momentum. During 2022, they recorded How The Beautiful Decay with Beau Burchell of Saosin in the producer’s chair. The musicians made a conscious decision to let their heavier impulses lead the way in the studio.

“We’d already established ourselves and our style with Fury By Failure,” notes Joe. “We realized we could tackle the more aggressive side of our sound, while still maintaining an element of melody.”

The single “First Light” embodies this approach. Co-written with Daniel Gailey of Phinehas and Fit For A King, laser-precise shredding rains down on a pummeling drum groove as a guttural growl subsides on the chantable chorus, “Wait for the first light.
“It was Easter 2022, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live anymore,” sighs Joe. “So, I pushed myself to write the lyrics and melody, because I knew there would be nothing rawer in that moment. I managed to describe how I felt in this rough patch. What stuck out was the idea of waiting for morning to come, much like in any movie or book where characters are in a bad spot. One character will always say, ‘If we make it to first light, we’ll be okay’. In the midst of my depression and suicidal thoughts, hope kept me going. If you get to the next morning, you’ll be alright. I’m here to talk about it firsthand.” 

What stuck out to Joe is the idea of waiting for morning to come, much like in any movie or book…

On “Burn Scar,” emotionally charged clean vocals echo in the distance over a guitar melody. A marching band-style drum roll gives way to pummeling verses as another hard-hitting hook takes hold, “Fall into the fray as we try to find a way.” Meanwhile, a head-spinning, yet hummable guitar solo takes flight.

“Personally, it’s my favorite song we’ve written,” smiles Joe. “A lot of times, the music will dictate what I’m going to write about. This one is about social divide—especially in the last few years. It comes from a place of a lot of hurt, because I saw folks who shared similar beliefs to me, but they forgot to love their neighbor.”

Elsewhere, “Rusted Crown” batters with a pinch harmonic-punctuated barrage offset by arresting vocals. It culminates with a plea, “It’s time to just let go. Lay down your crown.”

“It calls out people who mask their intentions behind false words,” Grayson goes on. “I’m tired of you lying; I know exactly what you are doing.”

Then, there’s “Mea Culpa.” Steve from Wolves at the Gate ignites the chorus, and Kyle Schaefer of Fallujah floods the bridge with his gut-punching bellow, quaking underneath the distortion.

“It’s a moment of self-examination,” Joe notes. “‘Mea Culpa’ is Latin for, ‘My fault’. The verses are about how I don’t like myself. The choruses are about wanting to change all of that. The bridge—which Kyle sings—comes from my friend’s perspective. The sentiment is that you’ve got to change for you.”

The title track “How The Beautiful Decay” marks a full circle moment creatively and thematically. “It was the last song we did, so the whole experience felt very encompassing of the whole record,” adds Grayson. “It reflects on our entire journey of creating this thing.”

In the end, Lightworker’s journey may ultimately inspire.

“After three-and-a-half years, we’ve progressed,” Grayson leaves off.  “We’re not simply repeating ourselves. The message is, ‘Everything isn’t going to be great all of the time. Release your anger and stress in a healthy way. Hopefully, this can be a soundtrack to surviving.”

“We’ve grown as musicians, but we’ve also grown as friends,” concludes Joe. “The process of this album made us a lot closer. The three of us are here to stay.”

April 2024

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