Review Summary: "Atlanta's wildest crew" is no longer offensive or even edgy. They're just boring.
I have an interesting
relationship with Attila. I'll never deviate from my position that 2014's Guilty Pleasure
is one of the worst albums recorded by any
. But when I found myself enjoying a few tracks off of 2016's Chaos
, it seemed the term 'guilty pleasure' was an accurate descriptor of the band's music, and all their dumb frat boy jargon was somewhat vindicated. Unfortunately, any momentum they may have generated towards being more than just a bunch of overgrown children is washed away with their latest album, Villain
I will grant Chris Fronzak this, though. After spending the band's last three albums going out of his way to constantly
remind you that he doesn't care what you think, he seems more concerned with just being him at this point. He knows he's a douchebag, he knows he's in a hole and he just keeps digging. I almost have some morbid appreciation for him being that honest and open about himself. One thing is for sure about Fronz as the front of this band; he'll never beat around the bush about who he is.
But while I may give Fronz a pass for not pretending to be someone he's not, I can't give his bandmates a pass for being lazy. Villain
is the group's least musically adventurous project to date. That's not to say they were before, but this record is a new kind of sloppy. The album's title track sees Fronz in complete control as the man you love to hate, but his bandmates bring no energy like they have previously. Even a generic breakdown might suffice, but even diehard fans of this group don't get much red meat.
"New Addiction" is another exemplar of this. Save for a pretty solid guitar solo near song's end, there's nothing creative or outstanding to report. Lyrically, Fronz is still sitting quite comfortably in the role of Donald Trump's spirit animal. He's still objectifying some girl he scooped off the street corner, but it doesn't sting or make you aghast like some of the group's previous material would. Meanwhile, songs like "Blackout" are mindless fun and a chance for Attila to just throw what they have at the wall without thinking twice.
"Toxic" sees Fronz try his hand at rapping. Needless to say, it didn't work when Fronz first tried it a few album cycles ago. It doesn't work now. The nu metal tendencies are still quite tedious, no real instrumental prowess coming to the forefront. "Subhuman" might be ripped directly out of the Linkin Park playbook, but it's unlike anything
the band has ever recorded. Fronz is still worlds away from being a remotely decent singer, conjuring up reminders of Oli Sykes ala Sempiternal
, but the lyrics work beyond all expectation. Singing of being a prisoner in his own mind, Fronz has never been this vulnerable, and it exposes what may actually consume his thoughts when no one is looking.
"Manipulate" is both a literal and spiritual successor of the track that preceded it. Fronz continues carrying on about how he'll never been understood and how he morbidly relishes the persona he's built for himself. "Bad Habits" closes out the album also in similar fashion, but it plays more like a future live show staple than any chance Fronz might have been taking to scratch the surface lyrically. With that, Villain
draws to a close. So, what does this record actually mean for Attila going forward?
It's the same old them. Partying and sex still dominate the narrative and some occasional musicality shines through. Elsewhere, the instrumentalists seem like they'd rather be anywhere else and wish to demote their role within the band. Fronz tries to actually write something introspective and thought-provoking, but he's no Adam Gontier or Oli Sykes. Sans a couple of decent tracks, the rest of the album plays like it was thrown together in twenty minutes. And that perhaps is a sign that the band is going to fall off the cliff. They're still filling their roles as a bunch of dumb frat boys, but eventually the bubble will burst. God only knows how many more lackluster albums they'll put out until then.