Review Summary: Snore.
Now, I know some of you may be thinking: “why does this dude keep reviewing these radio-rock outfits, if he always bashes the hell out of them”? For those with that justified opinion, let me assure you: I do like some
radio rock. Although I absolutely abhor Nickelback, and deeply despise the likes of Creed, Puddle Of Mudd and Staind, I can definitely make time for bands such as Three Days Grace, Finger Eleven or even Saliva. The point being, I like radio-rock just fine, as long as it’s well done and honest.
Unfortunately, Full Devil Jacket fall strictly on the “not interested” side of my list. On their first and, predictably, only full-lenght album, the Tennessee five piece do very little to distance themselves from the crowd of pseudo-metallic radio-rockers. Much like 12 Stones, the group chooses to merely follow a safe, well-trodden path, and adhere to it faithfully throughout their major-label debut. The trappings are all here – “tortured” vocals, straightforward, mostly mid-tempo beats, somewhat atmospheric bass lines, “lonely and misunderstood” lyrics and guitars that go from sappily acoustic to moderately heavy. Nothing ever deviates from the norm, and that’s what makes this group so infuriatingly mediocre.
In fact, the only point where FDJ can score a few points over the competition is in their guitar work. Jonathan Montoya and Michael Reaves are a somewhat talented duo, and contribute to whatever small modicum of heaviness this album has. Mainline, Stain, Love Song
all have crushing, quasi-metallic riffs, and Where Did You Go, Blue Green Day
even feature short but well-executed solos. A pity, then, that apart from Stain
and Mr. Wiggly
, they’re all so uninteresting.
And that’s this album’s number one sin: it’s boring. And I’m not talking “educational film about the life cycle of flies” boring; I’m talking “James Cameron’s Titanic” boring. Much like – again – 12 Stones, this group’s songs seldom manage to raise so much as an eyebrow, and mostly plod by to the uninterested gaze of potential listeners. Suffice it to say that most of them are around three and a half minutes long – and none of them over five minutes – yet the album, as a whole, makes for a morose listening experience.
Things do start off promisingly, with the funky Wanna Be Martyr
and the decent chorus of Fastblack
, where singer Josh Brown has a rather strong performance. Unfortunately, things quickly go downhill from there. The insufferable Where Did You Go
is much too sappy for its own good, and both it and Monster
fail in their attempts to go for a Nirvana-ballad type of vibe. No, this group is much too polished to ever compare to Cobain and Co., even if the solo on Monster
does sound a tad Cobainesque.
As for the remaining songs, they are merely bland and snore-inducing, with only the older songs – Stain
and Mr. Wiggly
– raising some degree of interest. In fact, these two tracks, taken from the group’s demo A Wax Box to Put Your Frankenstein Heads In
, can be construed as the standouts of the album, because – guess what – they actually rock
. Sure, Brown’s constant screaming on Wiggly
sounds incredibly forced, and its chorus of ”tasty, tasty, you’re so tasty, oh my god you’re f***ing tasty”
is nothing if not ridiculous. Still, it’s refreshing to hear the group display some sort of aggression, however processed – until that point, they were coming across as real wimps. As for Stain
, it is, along with Fastblack
, probably the best all-around song on the album. The vocal lines are interesting, the guitar work is good, there is some actual weight, and the chorus is insanely good. What more could you ask for?
However, those two songs do not this album save, even when coupled with strong lyrics like ”she was a lying mother/I couldn’t make her see/That all of this ain’t nothing/it’s just a part of me
) or ”the puppets on their strings/On the TV screens/They mean nothing to me/Carboard believers in nothing”
). They may warrant these songs a listen – and they do -but they cannot solve the record’s ultimate problem: its boringness.
In short, don’t be like me and be tricked into buying this album just to prove the reviewers wrong. They’re not wrong. This album is indeed utterly mediocre, and should be left in its limbo of oblivion. If you like radio-rock, Wanna Be Martyr, Fastblack
or Cardboard Believer
may be worth a listen. If you want some real rock, listen to Stain
and Mr. Wiggly
. As for the rest, leave it alone. After consistently comparing this group to 12 Stones throughout this piece, I must say that they deserve the exact same rating: no higher than a 2 out of 5.
Wanna Be Martyr