Review Summary: Yet another example of generic metalcore albeit well done mediocrity.
Famous Last Words is everything you would expect to hear if you judged the band by their look, their aesthetic, their label, and anything else you can determine without actually listening to their latest release, Council Of The Dead. They have the skinny jeans and the swept hair, the choruses and the breakdowns, the synths and the screams. Famous Last Words is perhaps the thousandth band I’ve come across that is using these beaten-into-the-ground elements to build a fanbase. But dammit this is still pretty enjoyable for all the reasons it shouldn’t be.
The band is literally textbook for modern Post Hardcore. The instruments in general never take the spotlight, albeit because they are meant to build a simplified palette for their admittedly versatile frontman. The vocalist takes over all the vocal duties including not obviously auto tuned clean singing, high screams, and low growls that bring to mind the unclean vocalist of I See Stars in particular. He might even be responsible for the opening spoken word section that acts as a set piece for the far-reaching concept story behind Council Of The Dead. Honestly he is a pretty standout vocalist. His screams are pretty visceral and he manages to craft some solid hooks and choruses, minus the chorus of the title track that sounds slightly processed and tries to venture a bit too high in his range for its own good. The guitars are relatively varied between breakdowns and riff. Although the bass is inaudible the guitars manage to mix in some leads and good punkier post hardcore riffing rather than pseudo metalcore petal point riffing and constant chugging. The breakdowns are present but there are some fairly good ones sprinkled in. The drums seem like they simply do what the song calls for and little else although the double bass work in “One In The Chamber” is quick and breakneck in a great way. Synths abound across the album in slightly different ways. Instead of dancey electro beats, they sound more cinematic and not a long shot from Motionless In White’s horror synths although much less industrial/horror based. The album’s production is clean and inoffensive as per usual.
Famous Last Words was definitely shooting for the stars with this album. Council Of The Dead is built cinematically around a concept that appears to be a story of a group of deceased spirits, all dying in different manners told in individual songs, that come together in some inspirational and positive manner in the afterlife. Modern metalcore is certainly not the genre for concept records but as far as stories go, this one isn’t as bad as some nor as bad as it sounds. With the exception of the first and last tracks, the former being spoken word over synths and the latter being clean singing over (yet again) synths, the whole album is strictly structured post hardcore/metalcore songs that coincidentally seem to increase slightly in quality across the album without fail. The clear highlight of the album is “One In The Chamber” which is Famous Last Words at their best. The song is everything the band is about but simply more effective and inspired. The clean singing is as catchy as FLW gets and the breakdown is one of the best ones on the album.
Honestly there isn’t much to be said about Council Of The Dead that hasn’t been said about any other relatively successful metalcore album of the late 2000s/2010s. It’s generic as hell but fairly well done. If you like the genre and don’t get too worked up about how generic something is, Famous Last Words could be for you.