Review Summary: Scene, if you can hear me, please don't let this be the next ridiculous trend you latch on to.
It's been a rather interesting past two years for the members of From First To Last. Sonny Moore announced his departure from the group, and subsequently released a slew of "electronica" material that nobody much cared for (or payed attention to for that matter), Travis Richter and Derek Bloom, guitarist and drummer respectively, announced the reformation of their previous project The Color of Violence (which originally featured their FFTL bandmate Matt Good), and the Moore-less reincarnation of FFTL released an abysmally average self titled disc. Out of all the FFTL related projects floating around since the split with Sonny, the only one that I felt held any legitimately interesting material was The Color of Violence. Admittedly, the few tracks that were initially released felt more like rough outlines of actual songs, but the songs presented enough potential to warrant a somewhat optimistic outlook on the projects future. So now that the band has released it's debut outing, Youthanize, via Epitaph Records, the question on everybody's mind (and when I say everybody's mind I'm simply referring to my own), is this. Are any of the band's members still capable of coming up with anything worthwhile? Sadly...not really.
Somewhere within the album's clustered and directionless 28 minute duration, you begin to get the sense that The Color of Violence's writing process is, well, basically nonexistent. The band's claim that the bulk of the album was improvised in the studio only lends more credence to that notion. If that claim is indeed true, then it makes the album's meandering, random, and vastly incoherent sound a little more understandable, and if it isn't, it really just proves that nobody involved in the project can write a decent song. The bulk of the songs presented are made up of nothing more than short sections of spastic, incoherent noise, a formula that generally works for bands within the grindcore genre, which is the genre I'm assuming the band is attempting to rip off. Even though the bulk of "grindcore" seem to throw together random bits of sound and make songs out of them, each separate part is generally a logical progression from the previous one, which is an aspect of songwriting that The Color of Violence is seemingly unaware of, as most of the songs end up being nothing more than collections of awkwardly juxtaposed bits and pieces, rather than cohesive and focused bursts of aggression. The band does attempt a few "longer" songs at the tail end of the album, but these just end up running themselves into the ground in the first minute or so, before rambling on for another few minutes.
Sadly, the production doesn't help to mask any of the album's flaws. The overly dissonant instrumentals are combined with an irritating, not to mention awkward, form of the "wall of sound" approach, creating an overly grating and abrasive atmosphere. I was at least hoping that Travis Richter's fairly decent vocals would make the album a bit more enjoyable, but the production usually serves to distort them to the point that they just become another irritating noise in the grainy soundscape. Also, it seems like the bulk of the album contains vocals from guest artists, the most noticeable of which is Matt Mihana of I Set My Friends On Fire fame. The overly layered vocals of both individuals continuously clash throughout the album's duration, which makes everything, yet again, just a bit more irritating than it should be.
All in all, Youthanize is a vastly disappointing release from a group that had the potential to at the very least be amusing. The very few enjoyable moments found within the album are all but ruined by the intentionally harsh production, and the rest of the album's irritating incoherency is only made worse by it. What started out as a seemingly harmless side project created for a few lulz, seems to be becoming the next big thing within "the scene", and if this does end up catching on, I can only imagine the deluge of abysmally horrible band's that will eventually crawl out of the woodwork. One can only hope that some less irritating trend will catch on before this one gets too out of of hand.