When Escape The Fate
burst onto the scene with their five track EP There’s No Sympathy For The Dead
mixed reactions regarding the band’s sound were all around. Many hailed them as plain simple generic blend of post hardcore and metalcore. However, others were intrigued by their ability to blend many elements from post hardcore, pop punk, and metal genres. It seems like a long lost cause to find superb guitar melodies, successful usage of dual vocals, a hooky chorus, solid drumming, a breakdown or two and even some great six string leads all in one song. Go right ahead and count how many genres those elements are taken from, next applaud the Las Vegas natives for managing to incorporate all of the above into their EP’s title track. Not only did they do that, but they did it in a fashion so things did not sound like a mess of ideas slumped together. If it isn’t obvious enough by now, their little five track EP did wonders for them as far as getting their name out. Being on Epitaph records did not hurt either, nor did playing select dates of Warped Tour. In the present time the band is currently on tour with the latest metalcore sensation Bullet For My Valentine
. Oh yeah, lets not forget that they haven’t even released their debut album until now. After a summer of waiting here it is, allow me to introduce Dying Is Your Latest Fashion
As far as expectations went for this, they were as equally high as they were scared. For some reason I had a strange feeling in my gut that this album would be a little bit poppier than the previous. If this was the case I would not have minded, as long as there was a continuation of the guitar work found on the EP. Well as far as my prediction went it ended up being true in a way, this album definitely has a bit more of a mainstream feel to it. This became evident as soon as the first single was released. Situations
sounds a like a pop punk song with a dark twist to it, not for the better in most cases. Its tempo is on the moderate side and the chorus is a little atrocious lyric wise.
“Darling, what is going on?
Honestly that never happened
Lying is your favorite passion
Leave me, go where you belong
Higher heels and lipstick napkins
Dying is your latest fashion”
Yikes, at least now we know the crowd they are reaching out to. As far as the guitar work, it was mainly simple progressions save from the lead over the last chorus. To be perfectly honest that is just about the only redeeming section of the song, as the lead sounds neat with the subtle phaser effect over it. For the most part the sound is very bland here and what little effect the song had on its first listen will drip off of listeners by the time the third listen comes around. Most of the time things sound forced and greatly lacking passion. This is a terrible choice for the first single, as it is like a double edged sword for the band; new listeners won’t really think they are anything special and I’m sure fans of the EP will have sell out chants running through their head. Another song that hints on their more poppy “progression” is Reverse This Curse
. Once again the music work is just so simple, as the band has truly ditched all of their abilities here and is seemingly attempting to make pop punk music. Maybe they wanted parts of this album to be a little easier to digest but once more things sound quite unnatural and the decrease is musicianship is overwhelmingly obvious. Things will indeed repeat themselves, as the lyrics here are as repulsive as the song title.
“One last chance to reverse this curse
Stole my heart but I had it burst
Now I see you’ve got something prove
And nothing to lose, so let me tell you the truth”
So it seems as though a few of the dumbed down poppy tracks are bringing this record down, but the superb guitar work found on the EP isn’t the only thing that lacks in these parts. Sections of this record have a huge problem with identity. It seems as though there are certain tracks that just do not belong here. One main one being a track previously released on the EP The Guillotine
. I was greatly turned off by the song on the EP, as its extremely dragged out break down with black metal resembling screams was the low point on that five track preview and stuck out as being heavier that the other four tracks. Well if it stuck out there imagine what is it like here, especially following the poppy single in Situations
. To put things in perspective, imagine if Fall Out Boy
had Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse
as a guest vocalist on one of the tracks on the CD, yikes. Things just do not sound right here, as track really has terrible placement on the record, and is not a very good tune in the first place. However, they did carry along There’s No Sympathy For the Dead
and as much as I love that song, it does have a bit of contrast with the parts of the record. Not saying straight up that is does not have a place here, but it seems as though the band should have stepped it up and written two more songs instead of carrying over the two old tunes. With both of them stuck in here, it seems as though the group is dwelling on a fence between their old sound and their new sound, trying to include both of them and are struggling to do so successfully. As a result, parts of the CD seem to lack identity with the others. I do not mind variety at all in a record, obviously it is quite welcome. However, there is a fine line between massive variety and an identity crisis and the band falls into the second category in many instances here.
But of course the best was saved for last (in terms of the review at least), as this new fangled poppier sound for the band was not a complete disaster. Sometimes they got things right, managing to do a bit of a successful fusion between the sounds found on their previous EP and their debut album, an example being the opening track The Webs We Weave
. A tiny drum fill opens things up before a bit of an upbeat progression comes into play with guitar parts intertwining each other perfectly. I really like the sound of the singer Ronnie’s tone here, as his voice contains plenty of passion. There is also a great guitar fill after the first chorus and once more a bit of a lead comes out following the second chorus. This song is quite a catchy track, but it also manages to incorporate plenty of great guitar work, and sounds very inspired. This is what the band should have aimed to do throughout the majority of the record, but it failed as shown above as they went to a bit of a simpler, mainstream style in some cases. In other cases, some of these songs came out successfully, mainly due to the instrumental step up. My Apocalypse
certainly hints a more radio friendly sound, yet manages to clutch onto a few of the band’s roots, as plenty of the nice guitar work is still present. The clean section at the beginning as well as the mellow sounding guitar during the verse both work out great, as the calm melodies set a great distinction to the screams during the prechorus. Over the chorus there is a really fitting lead which is quite easy to dig, it really locks in a unique atmosphere as the dual vocals thrive over it. Later on there is a fantastic tap picking section over some screams. This song becomes a highligh, mainly because it is a successful mix of the band’s previous heavy elements in the dual vocals and stunning guitar work and the newer singing style. Their successful blending of the two styles really shows here and the song as a whole has some very distinctive and memorable parts to it.
Yet another calm passage opens a song as heard in Not Good Enough for the Truth in Cliché
. Hats off here to Ronnie here, as his singing really shines throughout the song; between his smooth verses and emotional choruses he really hits one out of the park here. Things are at a moderate pace throughout, and while a good deal of the focus seems to be on Ronnie, there are some very interesting interlinking guitar parts. While the lyrics are on the cheesy side at times, the vocal performance will have them stuff in your head for days as this track ends up being quite catchy. It’s moderate pace and overall diverse texture also makes it stick out on the record. Up next was possibly the biggest surprise on the record, the last song. On the EP they ended with a terrible and unnecessary breakdown drawn out son. Times do change, as here they chose to end with an acoustic song. The closer The Day I Left The Womb
contains some soft and delicate guitar strumming. There is even a tiny melody from the second guitar fitting in perfectly when the situation calls for it. Now vocally there is a little change here, as I find the lyrics to be a bit better in some areas while the singing suffers. Often times the vocals sound very dry when Ronnie is sustaining notes. Other times he sounds like a Sonny Moore rip off (listen to Emily on Dead Diary) through his whiney delivery and breathless endings after sustaining notes. I do like parts of the chorus however…
“Please don’t worry I am doing fine
You’re much to busy to even find the time
So use your chemicals and take this to your grave
The boys you left are men you didn’t raise”
The last line is quite enjoyable and I respect the fact that they added variety to the end of the record. For a first acoustic song from the band, things worked out fairly well providing a bit of a surprise ending for their debut full length record.
As contradicting as this is going to sound, there is one trait about this record that is a positive and a negative; this record contains plenty of variety. There is certainly an eclectic range of sounds to be found here, from their signatures heard on the EP, to the newer pop influenced traits, and even to the ending acoustic song. However, with this much variety few band’s can maintain an identity and at times Escape The Fate
seems lost. Plenty of tracks just do not sound right next to each other, while others should not have even been put on the record all together. Also, in the cases of some of the more radio friendly songs there is an obvious cut back in guitar work. While this makes some songs drag, it was in turn a learning process by trial and error, as some of these songs belong in the gutter while others are enjoyable. This record makes it obvious that the band might be taking a few steps away from their original sound. However, they are not ready to completely leave it behind as some songs will show. At such a young age, one can only assume that by the next album they will have a much clearer idea of the sound they want to achieve in the future. This record definitely shows that Escape The Fate
has a bit more variety in them than plenty assumed. Once they find out how to blend all of these sounds together more consistently and discover a sturdier identity, they will accomplish something truly special. Until than, this is just a step towards that; and not too shabby of a step at that as this is still a great debut record which once more shows the potential these still growing musicians possess.
-The Webs We Weave
-Not Good Enough for the Truth in Cliché
Final Rating: 3/5