Review Summary: A very good attempt at a full length by FFtL that almost breaks its scene-roots.
This is where the witty introduction should be. Insert it here.
Now that we’ve got that done, welcome to my review for From First to Last‘s second release from their current lineup, Heroine. If you’re into the faux-emo scene at all (or, you watch FUSE), you’ll undoubtedly have heard of them, and most likely have heard the first single from this album, The Latest Plague. What was it that first struck you? Don’t be ashamed, for it was also the first to cross mine. What the hell is up with that dudes voice? Sure, some people have rather high pitches, and some people sound quite whiney when they sing, and of course there are a few singers who seem to combine the two, but this guy just seems to take all that to the next level.
The vocals are the first dynamic of From First to Last?s appeal. Sonny Moore (the vocalist in question) has at once one of the most generic and unique voices out there today. On one hand, they have that high pitch and the whininess associated with today’s faux-emo pop punk movement, and it does vaguely conjure images of Gerard Way or that dude from that one band who did that one song with those lyrics “in the shadows of our lives" (that’s the kind of vagueness I refer to). However, despite that, Sonny somehow manages to keep from being a stereotypical voice and retain his own sense of self, and it helps the music along quite a bit. Unlike other singers in the same vein, most of the time he seems to acknowledge just how silly his voice really is, and just exploits it to his advantage even further, singing in a manner that not only makes him incredibly annoying to here, but also in one that makes his incredibly whimpering tone entirely too catchy and infectious.
Sonny probably will make or break the band for you. Sure, he isn’t forced out in the mix, but obviously his voice is just that far into the spectrum you’ll either love or hate it. Go listen to The Latest Plague now, don’t worry, I’ll give you a few minutes. Hmmm doo doo ok, done? So you didn’t enjoy his voice then, eh? Well then stop reading the review now, as nothing else I say will be able to turn your mind from what your impression is now. Wait, you in the corner, you enjoyed it? Alas, I figured I was done. Sigh.
The musicianship on this album is solid, nothing quite spectacular, but nothing that will make you turn your face away in disgust. The drumming on the album is fast and furious and probably the best part of the music; that drummer sure knows how to hit ‘dem drums. Derek Bloom balances keeping the rhythm of each song intact with some excellent fills, and the occasional violent outburst that honestly makes this reviewer happy in the pants. Wes Borland did do the bass work for the album, but it’s rather generic. It isn’t necessarily bad; he consistently produces fairly solid bass lines with the occasional fill, but it really does kind of make you want for more. The guitarists (Matt Good and Travis Richter) are solid, delivering some solid riffs and progressions while lending some solid solo’s on occasion.
However, when you really listen to the music, From First to Last isn’t a band so much about songs as wholes, but about epic moments filled with emotion and catchiness. Yes, a pop-core group that depends on sounding epic. What a new concept. Anyways, if you listened to The Latest Plague like I so instructed to you (yes, I demand far too much I know), one of said moments is present, as the screams just before the psuedo-breakdown (all you metalcore fan boys better not make a peep about my usage of that word) are just an absolute joy to hear. Possibly the best song on the album is the title track Heroine, where Sonny’s technique combined with the effects placed on him make for an absolutely haunting and gripping sound that will make you quake in your little musical booties. It also doesn’t hurt that about a third of Waves Goodbye suddenly turns into a strange, Nine Inch Nails sounding industrial break, that is altogether a breath of fresh air and just further advances the strange similarity in atmosphere the bands share.
Despite the occasion sameness one might feel listening to the album, and the rather introspective and at times storyteller-like yet far too angsty for much of the time lyrics, From First to Last have managed to construct an excellent darkly poppy and absolutely hXc album in Heroine. Much akin to Sonny’s voice, the album is at once cliche and original all at once. While it’s no groundbreaking effort to be sure, it’s an altogether enjoyable effort and quite the fun album to listen to, even though it would like to make you think differently. One can only hope that the rest of those silly “scene" bands will take a trick or two from From First to Last. Here’s to wishful thinking.