Review Summary: It's a rush that can't be explained. It's also a rush better left unexplained.
Fun is a phenomenon that shouldn’t be explained. Fun evolves and changes with your own experiences. Snorting pixie sticks seemed like a fun idea at the age of 9. Grabbing the chest of the girl sitting next to me in English class seemed like a great idea at the age of 12. Neither of these things give me that key feeling anymore, but Escape the Fate’s Dying Is You Latest Fashion gives me that feeling now. It manages to keep me interested without forcing me to think about why I seem to enjoy it. Still, it has all the makings of a typical album that tries to hard while not trying hard enough. The guitar work is largely, while technical at times, uninspired. The vocals are often overwrought. The drumming is just enough to keep pace & not sound stale. The content consists of failed relationships, drug abuse, & vague introspection all in the guise of ‘edgy‘, death ridden metaphors. So what redeeming qualities does this album have?
The first song on the album, The Webs We Weave starts with pounding drums that seem to desperately get the attention of the listener. The pace is feverish. The guitars chug away in unison until the lead breaks away into a forgettable riff. The solo doesn’t add much to the song & would have a better place under the vocals of Ronnie Radke as he is the only standout in this song (or the whole album, for that matter). He gives a great performance as far as energy and delivery goes. His voice erratically waivers from a steady, guttural yell to a desperate scream throughout. Once you maneuver past these selling points, the lyrics start to surface & they fall completely flat. They all seem overly dramatic & have been spewed by plenty of bands that have came before and after this album. Lyrics like “He had a plan to kill you all along. The evidence was hidden in this song” that were chosen to kick off the cryptic & ridiculously titled, “When I Go Out, I Want To Go Out On A Chariot Of Fire” will evoke a collective eye roll from listeners. Thankfully, it’s not all a rehash of every bullied teenagers’ fan fiction. While “Your heart beats under the floor. It haunts me in my dreams” won’t leave you floored by the penmanship, it adds a bit of relatable & metaphoric merit without sounding forced & totally detached from reality. Songs like Situations and Reverse This Curse are forgettable songs that were made to boost popularity as both of them have the band stepping down more than a few notches in terms of musicianship to be catchy.
The highlights of this project come in bunches in the middle of the album. Cellar Door starts with a subdued guitar and a somber Radke calmly setting the scene for the song filtered through a distant distortion before it all explodes into a massive chorus. A similar approach is taken for My Apocalypse. The bare guitars are soon met with a quick, menacing silence that give way to an undeniable riff. We yet again see Radke calm, cool, and collected. He’s methodically using imagery to convey the emotion of the song instead of just wailing at the top of his lungs. By the end of the first verse, you expect everything to explode into another bombastic chorus, but a pleasant surprise greets you instead. The instruments all take flight as expected, but Radke calmly states that he ‘walks with shadows while background vocals scream back as if he’s stuck inside of a storm and fighting with his inner thoughts in the same instance. This is, by far, the best song of their career. Friends & Alibis is the most honest and straightforward song on the album, besides the closer. The rolling drums during the chorus really give everything else space to shine. The vocals and the guitars exude the feeling of falling in slow motion. This song may still be a bit dramatic for some. The next song is what Reverse This Curse should have been. Not Good Enough for The Truth In Cliché is a perfect example of how the band can connect with a broader audience without losing themselves in the process. This prowess comes too far & few between on the album, though. The album closer, The Day I Left The Womb is honest, but it gets too consumed in the emotion. The acoustic guitars strip the song down to a skeleton and the vocals and lyrics become overwhelming.
Escape The Fate were, by no means, a bad band when this album released, but it seemed like they had a detailed plan for the album they wanted to create. They planned themselves into a box and backed that box into a corner. The album is a ridiculously fun listen if you don’t actually listen. The musicianship isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but they sound like they are trying too hard to impress instead of adding their own flair to the music. The saving grace of the album is the vocals. Radke is an impressive singer & he has a good knack for incorporating emotion into his delivery, but his lyrics are all too generic and contrived. This album is extremely middle of the road (in a love or hate… or like until you hate it kind of way). I guess Escape The Fate expected the listeners to be enamored with the rush and avoid the reflection at the end of the ride.