Review Summary: From First To Last's middle finger to the world.
From their humble beginnings from Tampa, Florida, From First To Last have been through a lot. Firstly, their first full-length, Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count, was regarded as a 'scene' masterpiece while also being derided as every thing that was wrong with the music scene. Heroine, one the other hand, grudgingly made their detractors admit that maybe, just maybe, they could become a band of substance, while also losing previous fans due to trivial things such as a lack of screaming, it was different, it not what they expected, why does their lead singer look weird, etc.
So what? You may ask, doesn't every band go through a variation of this throughout their careers? And you would be right, but FFTL have had this worse then most, but it didn't start going downhill until their lead singer, Sonny Moore, left due to vocal problems and a want to create his own music. This, compounded by an their underwhelming third, self-titled album being releasesd basically dragged them and their name through the mud, losing even more of their fan base to nostalgia and gaining the detractors form their Dear Diary- era once again.
Anyway, enough about the past, what's the point of this review? Oh yeah, they have released a new album, on Rise Records no less.
This current incarnation of FFTL, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Matt Good, bassist/vocalist Matt Manning, drummer Derek Bloom and guitarist Blake Steiner, has finally lived up to the promise shown on Heroine, stepping up their game in almost everyway and giving the world the middle finger at the same time.
The last several years have taken their toll on FFTL and it shows, with this album carthatically venting all the frustration, anger, despair and depression they have felt, giving us their most raw, personal and emotional album they have released.
Musically, the band is on its A game, with the guitarists almost upstaging Derek Bloom's consistent talent shown. Rather than just sterotypically hamonising and strumming along, they are all over the place, with Blake Steiner and Matt Good being almost all over their fretboards throughout, from needling leads of 'Elvis Said Ambition Is a Dream With A V8 Engine' to the dreamy sounds heard on 'You, Me and The Significant Others'. On top of this bassist Matt Manning providing a tangible bottom end that is audible throughout the album.
is a constant presence throughout the album, with his instrument actually able to be heard, providing the album with a tangible bottom end to grasp onto.
But, as to be expected, drummer Derek Bloom is this albums MVP (that makes it 4 albums running), improving upon his already formidable reputation, speeding up and becoming more schizopheric than we have ever heard his before, but never overplaying a part or overpowering another instrument, providing the band with an almost impenetrable backbone.
A difference they have also taken is the presence of electonic elements throughout the album, ensuring that no part of the album sounds underwhelming or empty, such as making the opening of the track 'The He-Man Woman Haters Club' sound far more interesting that would be expected.
While on their self-titled record, vocalist Matt Good may of sounded uninspired or bored during moments of the album, he has now grown more comfortable into the role of being frontman, with his voice now carrying a consistent, seething feeling of sheer anger and frustration, in the process becoming more a vocalist for FFTL than Sonny Moore ever was. His singing is now more inspired and emotion-filled than ever , this combined with occasional gang vocals for emphasis, allows the listener to legitamately feel what he wants them to feel, not leaving them to draw their own conclusion. This is also the case lyrically, with Matt Good is expressing his annoyance and hatred of the world, taking aim as the music industry ('Cashing Out'), the nightclub scene ('The He-Man Woman Haters Club'), the public's infatuation with celebrities ('Going Lohan') and his own personal experiences (' Elvis Said...'). Also, with the departure of previous guitarist/vocalist Travis Richter, bassist Matt Manning has now stepped up to the plate, taking up the main screamer duties, providing a guttural roar to the proceedings, rather than Travis's previous shrieking yell, this, combined with Matt Good's occasional high-pitched shriek, give the screaming a new edge, prventing monotony from setting in for the listener.
On the subject of screaming, this album marks a difference from their previous works, with an increase in the amount of screaming being found. Instead of being relegated a background role with the occasional chance to shine, it often shares a main vocal presence with the singing throughout (M.O.) and occasionally taking centre stage ('Chyeaaaa!'). Something that is also evident is that the last two tracks of the album shows Matt Good's new-found infatuation with autotone, but fear not, they have not all of a sudden gone Attaack Attack! on us, but use it for the purpose of the track, with 'A Soft War' being entirely auto-tone and easily the weirdest track on the album, while 'Now That You're Gone' uses it for emphasis.
For this album, From First To Last have laid everything on the table, they have taken every dissappointment, every insult, every ounce of apathy and hatred thrown at them during the last couple of years, added that to the chages and improvements of new band members, a new label, a thirst to play the music they want and having nothing to lose, used it, and created their most focued, interesting and unique album to date.