Long before the pandemic had us all becoming just a bit more health conscious, the members of Dallas metalcore band Slit were concerned with another national health crisis.
"The plan from the beginning was for the EP to center around a lot of mental struggles and the idea of giving up," drummer Leo Aguero says. "We were trying to spread awareness for that and give a little bit more insight to people dealing with mental struggles."
The band's debut EP Nothing Left was released to coincide with suicide prevention week in early September.
While the pandemic has created a conundrum for many bands about whether to release new music, releasing the EP now was never a question for Slit.
"With the pandemic, a lot of people are kind of forced to stay inside and keep to themselves," Aguero says. "I know that that can definitely mess with people mentally if you don't know how to deal with it. So, we went ahead and did it anyways to help spread around that hope for the best."
Both the EP's title and its title track, the band's first single, deal directly with the theme of loss of self.
"The main lyric is, 'There's nothing left to me,' and that's kind of like something that I feel a lot of people deal with," Aguero says. "They have all these thoughts. They feel like they've pretty much got absolutely nothing to live for and they have nothing going for them."
Rather than wallowing in self-pity, as the metalcore genre is oft-criticized for doing, the members of Slit want to give fans a roadmap toward self-improvement.
"It's more so acknowledging wanting to get past it," Aguero explains. "In the metalcore genre ... I feel like a lot of the people that play the music kind of deal with mental struggles. We wanted to kind of connect the angry part of it with the emotional part of it and give it a healthy mix to convey that to our fans and help give something to relate to, as opposed to just wanting to like going and mosh and throw fists all over the place."
To further this goal, the EP often employs dueling vocalists to explore the soft and hard edges of mental illness — one to scream out the pain and another to bandage the wound.
Nowhere else is this effort more pronounced than in the band's second single, "Dead Roses," featuring Dallas emo rapper and Aguero's former bandmate in Begotten, LiL Lotus.
"It just came naturally," Aguero says of the decision to include the rapper on the track. "We had that part previously recorded and everything, and I felt like after listening to the song over and over again. I kind of figured that his voice was able to portray our song a little bit better."
When Lotus came to visit his friends in Dallas, Aguero took advantage of his living situation to make sure to capture the rapper's keen ability to capture the heart of darkness.
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"He came back into town, and we were just hanging out and discussed the recording," Aguero remembers. "I actually live with our producer, and we were all just hanging out, so we decided to just record his part right then and there."
The result is nothing short of remarkable. This kind of genre-bending and blending is the work of a band that has, in addition to longevity, its fans' well-being in mind.
Slit is already working on new songs for the new year after fans have had a few more months to absorb the recent material.
"I feel like with the new music, you can definitely tell that we're growing as musicians and growing together as a band," Aguero says. "We're learning to come together and create this driving force just because we want to represent ourselves as well as possible."