Review Summary: There may be no hidden gems in the scene of metalcore, but some bands do manage to shine a little brighter.
I will be the first to admit that I was not expecting anything good to come from Famous Last Words’ Two Face Charade. They started by covering Hollywood Undead songs on Youtube with unbelievably hideous results involving overused techno beats and full song breakdowns. A few years later, they spawn their debut LP, Two Faced Charade and with this, there is evidence that bands can grow even when showing evidence of immaturity.
The album begins with the song Welcome to the Show. A haunting keyboard instrumental chimes in with a build up to a piercing silence and then a breakdown accompanied by the screaming “At the stories beginning/ starts a sad mystery!” Which forms as a satisfying opening to the album. Here we get a taste of the wide vocal range of the lead singer with lows, highs, mids, and cleans all together to perform the opening lines. If you do not like this beginning song, you might as well stop listening because this song in particular, serves as a nice example of how the band performs the entire album (As the opening track should do).
After listening to the first three songs, it is evident that there are many breakdowns and use of keyboard- Both are overused in many bands of the same genre. The keyboard in Two Faced Charade, fortunately, never takes over to support the sound of the music. Rather, it accents the tone in a way to make for an eerie atmosphere as the listener is taken through the dark and horrid story of violence and jealousy. The breakdowns, however, are fairly common throughout the album and this could frustrate some since the band frequently begins to perform a riff but then ends up chugging through a large portion of the song and sadly this may cause some to overlook the outstanding vocal performance.
The one song I found to be unnecessary is In Perfect Hindsight which is basically a dubstep interlude. This song serves no purpose to the story and can easily be skipped over.
As Two Faced Charade carries on, there is a unique theme about the vocals that will give meaning to the title. The album portrays the story of a man, the man on the cover, who is seeking to win the heart of the girl he loves. Unfortunately, this girl is in love with another man. The screaming vocals represent the dark side of the narrator as he tells the girl, “Go before your lover if you keep searching he will show up dead/ I am the murderer you will never see his pretty face again” while the clean vocals are at a constant battle to do the right thing as he sings “Must reside/ must abide/ without my life caught in a lie/ but I might die/ If I don’t try.” The vocalist is constantly contradicting himself ever other line and serves as a paranoid, multi-personality character. The vocals and lyrics themselves could be enough for many to get past the generic instrumentals as JT will allow his voice to soar, scream and present a tone of desperation to match the lyrics of the same desperation. The song Lust of the Lost serves as a good example when he sings “The aisle clears and my hope eludes / he’s burning through my ***ing solitude” then proceeds to soar into the chorus.
The album concludes with The Show Must Go On Pt.2. The album could have easily ended on The Show Must Go On Pt. 1 being one of the strongest songs on the album, but Pt.2 offers a nice revisit of the story the listener just heard. JT repeats certain lyrics in previous songs and it brings forth a theme of reminiscing guilt of a murderer. That being said, the song is an interesting idea but that same theme was also present in Pt.1 making Pt.2 a bit unnecessary and slightly overkill.
By no means is this band doing anything ground breaking with the genre but it is nice to see a band take a different approach to familiar sounds and techniques. Sure, the album is filled to the brim with breakdowns and a few clichés. But among these problems, there are great things to be found like the story the songs weave together, the vocals that serve as a “two faced” mind, the consistency of the album and the above average lyrics. I won’t say that Famous Last Words will launch into super stardom because of Two Faced Charade, but it definitely allows them to shine a little brighter.