UG Team, on june 24, 2013 13 of 17 people found this review helpful
Sound: "White boy on the beat rocking Gucci sneaks. All I do is win Charlie Sheen."
~Falling In Reverse, "Alone", 2013.
As musicians, we tend to value progression and experimentation. Flirting with new styles, trying new instruments, exploring new modes of expression - these are endeavours that further our art and must be welcomed, whatever the genre. We can all recall a few instances where these experiments have gone wrong, but that should not put anyone off trying. Nevada's Falling In Reverse tried; led by former Escape The Fate vocalist Ronnie Radke, they enjoyed considerable success with their 2011 debut "The Drug in Me Is You," combining American post-hardcore with shiny, auto-tuned pop. If you think that sounds like a bad idea then turn back now, because new album "Fashionably Late" takes it and pushes it to the absolute limits.
Opening track "Champion" starts as you might expect chugging metal riffs, angry barks and a processed poppy chorus. The heavy bits are hardly revolutionary but the hook, taken on face value, is relatively catchy. Then, at the half way mark, a mid-00s hip-hop beat enters the fold and Radke starts rapping. He gets through 200 words in 40 seconds, and before you can say "career change" there's a monotone breakdown, deathcore tempo drop and another serving of pop chorus to deal with. It's all rather disorienting, and the album continues in this fashion, throwing seemingly random styles together at will. "Rolling Stone" takes in Slipknot riffs, choir pads and a Skrillex-esque dubstep drop, "Self-Destruct Personality" combines auto-tuned rap with harmonized guitar leads and "Drifter" trades sugary synths for snare brushes and steel-string guitar, ending the album with a rousing country singalong.
There's a common theme here, and you might have guessed what it is already: it's all absolute trash. The hip-hop is dated, the metal is generic and One Direction would wince at how sickly some of the hooks are. The vocals, though versatile, are produced to the point of absurdity and auto-tune drips from every note. Very rarely do the band make a genuine attempt to merge two styles together, instead jumping from one to another and assuming that the listener is patient (or nave) enough to go along with it. // 2
Lyrics: Unfortunately, the lyrics are no less confusing. Take the title track, and this snippet from the chorus:
"I wanna be that guy that makes you sad,
That makes you cry again,
Without a doubt, sorry about f--king all your friends."
Two songs previously, Mr Radke was reflecting on why his girlfriend didn't really love him, bemused by her lack of interest and claiming to be a helpless victim of "the Bad Girls Club." The stupidity is truly unbelievable. Other topics include his "white boy swagger," girls liking his Facebook posts, being in rap since he was "sh-tting in Pampers" and, stepping out of character for a moment, how much he misses his mother, who abandoned him as a child.
When he drops the nauseatingly conceited rockstar persona he's actually very open, reflecting on deeply personal issues. The honesty of it makes the misogynistic nonsense elsewhere all the more bizarre. However, regardless of whether he's playing the womanizing sex god or the poor, traumatised boy, his words are extremely self-absorbed and lack any visible grounding in the real world. You do feel for him, but when the album's most emotional lyrics are found on "Drifter," the exceptionally tacked-on country and western ditty, it's a challenge to take them seriously. // 2
Overall Impression: Ever the zealot, Radke has been telling the press all about his excitement over this album, claiming it's the best he's ever made with Falling In Reverse or Escape The Fate and that people would "lose their minds" when they heard it. That is certainly one way of putting it. However misguided, you have to admire the band's passion and willingness to play exactly what they want to, when they want to. Unfortunately, the result in this case is an arrogant, incoherent, blathering mess with genre fusion that doesn't work. It's like mixing oil with water, except the water's been poisoned and the oil is fuelling a devastating war in the Middle East, where cities are terrorised by militant rule and chemical weapons mutate the faces of civilian children. This is an unmitigated disaster.
naw2, on july 08, 2013 4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is quite a tricky album to review without perhaps turning the whole thing into a personal attack on the lead vocalist and creative linchpin of Falling In ReverseRonnie Radke. In a sense you could say that you can definitely tell it's him and his band because they are distinctive and obvious if not particularly original. The problem therein lies with the songs and how they are written.
The idea behind this album appears to be something that applies to the lowest common denominator of all of the more popular styles of modern pop music. It is remarkable, how quickly a single song can go from sounding like a bad early 2000's rap track to a medicore 2006/2007 metalcore track and then change again to a poppy hook with more auto-tune than any of the flavour of the month pop artists around in this day and age and then on top of that add a thoroughly second rate Skrillex style dubstep drop.
It's just a bit too much. I enjoy bands that can pull off multiple genre's within their music and make it seamless and interesting sounding but the way it's been done here seem haphazard and almost as if they were pulling genre's out of a hat without any thought care and attention. // 4
Lyrics: Now this is much easier to write about. It seems Ronnie is very comfortable in his own skin and is happy writing lyrics in his own style. The problem is, and it is actually more prevalent on this album and either of his two other releases, is that he comes across as a juvenile little rich boy and not in that slightly amusing cute way that makes him in any way likeable.
Just one look at tracks like the lead single "Alone" and the title track "Fashionably Late" you get the impression of a guy that has got a decent level of success from his music and has suddenly disappeared in a vortex of his own ego. This becomes very obvious with mentioning social media websites like twitter in multiple songs gives the impression that this guy is just wired in a reality entirely of his own.
But the biggest problem by a mile is Ronnie's pure ability of vocalist. The problem is not that he is the worst vocalist in the history of world, he's not by any stretch. The problem is that he is trying so many different styles of vocals, from death-style growls and screaming grunts to poppy cleans and rapping that he does not at any point grasp the finer points of any of them. Like the rest of the musical passages it's a completely unorganized mess which is actually a bit of a shame. // 3
Overall Impression: Now this is something I am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading. Looking at each of the songs individually and see whether they successes of failures.
1. "Champion" - A hugely metalcore beginning. As far as I can tell it's nothing special in terms of the musical ideas but it is definitely solid in it's own right. The chorus goes for more of a dance vibe which again, while not original, is something that is not massively insulting on any level. The rapping section, the very first time you hear it takes you by surprise as it comes completely from left field. As does the following Death Metal-lite style breakdown that follows it. It's a sign of things to come for the rest of the album, but not in a good way.
2. "Bad Girls Club" - This song is grating, in every single way imaginable: the clich keyboard sounds, cookie cutter auto-tuned vocals, cringe-worthy spoken word sections and the fact that the rest of the instrumentals do not go in any sort of logical way with the idea of the rest of the song in terms of feel. I get what they were going for in terms of feel but it is perhaps one of the worst executed musical ideas since Lil Wayne tried to write a "Rock Album."
3. "Rolling Stone" - Now in all fairness this song does not start off too badly. It goes from a synth and vocal intro and until the second chorus finishes is progresses in a logical manner which gives some hope that this song could just about be passable unlike the ridiculous nature of the two songs that have preceded it. The rapping section as a middle 8 is not too bad but it's that dubstep drop that follows that makes no sense to me. It seemed unnecessary to place it there and then to not even settle on it to change it to another monotone metalcore breakdown. It's just frustrating that a song with a bit of potential was effectively destroyed by trying to do too much with it.
4. "Fashionably Late" - This title track seems to have one identity. That one catchy Post-Hardcore track with silly lyrics about being a bit of a promiscuous guy who keeps cheating on his girlfriend. It's probably the best song (I use the term "best song" generously) up to this point as it just keeps it relatively simple as a simple hook laden modern rock song. In all realistic terms though the song actually really dull.
5. "Alone" - I would argue that this song, the lead single, represents what is wrong with the album as a whole: dated sounding instrumentals of a ridiculously over the top of genre shifts, lyrics which make Ronnie like a petulant little kid, completely unoriginal melodic/ rhythmic ideas and in particular the last chorus which tries to go for a dramatic type of ending by trying to fuse 2 or 3 genre's at once which just makes it sound really, really messy. And the spoken words at the end make me feel like he wasn't taking the song at all seriously.
6. "Born to Lead" - With some more Thrash Metal style drums in this track, it's a bit of moshy one on the whole. The Chorus is a fairly effective way of slowing the pace down. But then all of a sudden they break into what I can only describe as DragonForce mode. It's not that the instrumentalists aren't up it. It's just a bit mad. Then the extended and increasingly ridiculous "beatdown" sections once again mean that too many cooks (on this case genre's) spoil the broth for what could have been a decent song.
7. "Over When It's Over" - The rapping in this song would perhaps work quite a lot better if there was a rapper who actually works on their craft full time rather this Ronnie's sort of half hearted almost "poserish" attempts. The Chorus is also really, really boring and just sounds like it could have come from any sort of stereotypical post-hardcore band trying to write a rubbish ballad.
8. "Game Over" - The game music inside the song is fairly amusing. Maybe this song was just meant to be a bit of an odd song which makes people laugh because it includes lots of classic video game sounds and then Ronnie even goes as far as to quote the Konami Code before the last chorus. It's a bit of a laugh, until it dawns on you how bad a song it actually is. Pity, almost a good mark for this album.
9. "Self Destruct Personality" - This song seriously sounds a bit like Atreyu from the mid 2000's. The emphasis on the lead guitar parts and the massive difference from the harsher vocals in the verse to the clean's in the chrous. The problem at this point it just sounds like an amalgamation of everything that has come from the album already, which makes me think that after while writing this mess of a record Ronnie ran out of ideas and started to regurgitate ideas in slightly different guises. And combining Screaming and rapping is ridiculous.
10. "F--k the Rest" - The title shows how I feel at this point about finishing this review but I digress. This song goes back to the major key jumpy idea that "Bad Girls Club" tried to implement. It perhaps works a bit better as at least all the parts of the song sound like they should be there. However the lyrics are ridiculous, the musical ideas, while decently arranged, sound tired and strained and the little lines about the song before someone sounds about as sincere as me saying that this song is at all original.
11. "Keep Holding On" - Well at least this pop ballad style track is somewhat inoffensive. It's a typical kind of rallying song about being an outcast in the world (although you can tell it's just another example of him stoking his own ego about his career). However I can say, perhaps because of the songs over the top cheese and the fact it keeps itself to itself I would have to say it could have been the least bad song on the album. Until they tried to fuse the ballad with a Metalcore breakdown. Which could have been interesting if it had it not just been a monotone guitar and bass job. Pity.
12. "Drifter" - Really? Country & Western? After the creative mess that has followed they ended the album they choose yet another direction to close. The song itself is actually fairly inoffensive. They gone for the most cliche possible lyrics with a cliche if modern sounding country track and it's all relatively harmless. At least the madness has finished.
If there was a song on the album that I had to say was not a totally ridiculous failure on almost every level it would perhaps have to be the slightly ridiculous "Born to Lead." I'm not saying it's the best thing but it is perhaps the only I would choose to listen to again after writing this.
I would say that this is very possibly one of the worst albums I've ever heard. The fact Ronnie Radke seems to be a guy who cares so little about what other people think about him should be a trait that more people could do better with showing. However he is so wrapped up in not caring what other people think he's caught up in a whirlwind created by his own ego and the evidence shows that with this album he felt that he could do whatever he wanted and people would lap it up.
It still remains to be seen with the album becomes an overall success but I think he might need pay attention to more than just his own head when it comes to the music he wants to release. // 3
xxSynxgxx, on july 08, 2013 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Many people complain about the record and when they reference anything from it they only use the song "Alone" which really isn't a bad song. Its not great but its definitely not a band piece. After listening to the whole (deluxe version) album all the way through multiple times I can honestly say this is the best work they've produced. I was blown away, not saying the record is a perfect 10/10 because it most certainly isn't, but I was just amazed how they pulled off playing multiple different genre's and it still sounding good. Rock, Pop, Punk, Metal, Rap, etc every track was unique and very opaque. Guitar solo's on the standard edition of the record their was a lack of, however the deluxe edition adds 2 more solos so their's a total of 5 solo's on the record. The drums on the track were really awesome and creative considering the multitude of genres that took place on the record. The bassist on the record has some pretty cool moments example would be on born to lead right before Jacky's solo, pretty cool guitar and bass trade off lick. The rapping that going into it I thought would be horrible and kill the record was actually really interesting. Song's such as "Rolling Stone," "It's Over When It's Over," and "Self-Destruct Personality" showcase the talent Ronnie has at rapping and "scream-rapping" I don't know if their is a term for that but he does that in "Self-Destruct Personality." Their was also some sort of "nintendo-core" would be the best way to describe "Game Over" which was a really interesting track none the less. Song's like "Keep Holding On" and "Drifter" are really emotional tracks that touch on two different and deep subjects that really attracted me and they instantly became my two favorite tracks off the record. Both very slow and completely different sound/lyrics. // 7
Lyrics: When I say a majority I mean a MAJORITY of people that quote lyrics from the record use "Alone." For example from "Rolling Stone": "Don't get it twisted, ballistic, characteristics when I rap shit intricate visions of infinite wisdom empirical spiritual lyrical very cool synonyms" or from "Keep Holding On": "My head is floating somewhere in the clouds while I'm being paid to entertain a lively crowd, they sing my songs and feel my pain because pain is what create my fame a vicious cycle some day I'll get out" or from "It's Over When It's Over": "I wear my heart up on my sleeve so my souls exposed. And I carry this disease the weight of the holy ghost." Lyrically the album has some really clever literary device's all through it and you can't deny that it does. All the lyrics fit the sound of every song on the record. Depending on the person however Ronnie's vocals may either make you want to shoot yourself in the head (not literally of course) because its to whiny which is understandable I feel that way sometimes (not literally of course) when friends show me bands when the vocalist is singing so high I can't tell if its a guy or a girl and its to whiny or you'll think they're incredible and really unique. His singing is in the higher range as usual but occasionally it goes down to the lower notes. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall I'd say this record is easily a 7.5 personally it's a very easy to listen to record and is very catchy and attracts a wide variety of people which was most likely the intent of the record. Memorable tracks that will carry on throughout the bands career are definitely "Keep Holding On" (I know I've mentioned that track about 100000 times calm down) and "Born to Lead." The album has not one bad track their is some average tracks such as "Alone" and "Bad Girls Club" but their isn't a single bad track on the whole piece which isn't rare but is uncommon among today's bands. Even the "Rolling Stone (Shy Kid Remix)" isn't too bad its definitely a 4/10 track but that's just slightly below average not bad necessarily. One thing I hate which I really hope on the bands next effort they touch more on is guitar solo's because their was a lack of solo's and Jacky has such an incredible talent. I know most people will say "all he does is sweep..." but watch some of his guitar world videos. Not saying he is going to be the best guitar player of his generation but he's definitely got a lot of soloing talent they need to tap into. Overall from me a solid 7.5 it was a really well written record if you are actually listening to it and not just straight up hating on it because of the first single "Alone" and maybe the second single "Fashionably Late" (which sounds basically like situation's just a little more pop). If my copy was stolen/lost I would most certainly buy another copy when it would be convenient for me to do so. This band is really going to be blowing up over the next couple of years and it'll be interesting to see if they do something as drastic like this in the future or if they'll go back to their debut's style. Good day old sports. // 7
a7xb4d, on july 08, 2013 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: As a fan of Falling In Reverse from their last release "The Drug in Me Is You," I have to say that "Fashionably Late" was a bit of a shock. The sound is new compared to their previous style of a pop/metal mix, combining elements of hip hop, EDM, and at one point country into the mix. Overall, the sound isn't all that bad, save a few tracks like "Alone," "Bad Girls Club," and "Game Over." It's different, yes, but I wouldn't say it's different in a totally bad way. Frontman Ronnie Radke made it abundantly clear that he would not care what people thought of the band's new sound, and that certainly shows. "Fashionably Late" comes out as a very experimental, try-to-get-as-many-genres-in-as-we-can album. While a few tracks, like "Fashionably Late," "Rolling Stone," and "Born to Lead" seem to pull this idea off the majority seem a bit messy. So, while the sound experiments done on the album are neat in their idea, a lot just don't work. For another band, this might have come across as just something that didn't work. However, for a band like Falling In Reverse, it certainly lacks something that their last album had. // 6
Lyrics: Lyrics are what I saw as what really destroyed this album. Don't get me wrong, Ronnie Radke is a talented person who has set a precedent of writing some really good songs, but the overall feel of the lyrics on "Fashionably Late" is highly egotistical. "The Drug in Me Is You" had a similar vibe to it, but this album takes it a bit over the top. Falling In Reverse is bound to have some sense of narcissism to any song it produces, which is what draws a lot of people in to the band, but "Fashionably Late" takes it too far. The lyrics alternate between bragging about Radke's life and talking about how much his life sucks. It's very confusing, but despite the discrepancies between songs, a few like "It's Over When It's Over" show Radke's talent at song writing. However, songs like "Bad Girls Club" really hurt the album overall with their cheesy, over the top ego trip lyrics. Radke is a talented man with a lot of skill, he just needs to rein himself in every now and then so that it doesn't go to his head. // 4
Overall Impression: I feel like a lot of people went into this album expecting to hate it. For that reason, I didn't read any review before listening to it, and that proved to be a very good idea. Most of the reviews on this album just focus on the bad parts and give zero credit to the creativity behind the album. It was a risky move to experiment as much as Falling In Reverse did on "Fashionably Late," and I give them a lot of credit for doing it. However, to be honest it was a largely unsuccessful attempt with a few standout moments. "Rolling Stone," "Born To Lead," "It's Over When It's Over," and "Fashionably Late" are definitely a showcase of what Falling In Reverse can offer with this type of sound. While this album definitely doesn't top "The Drug in Me Is You," it presents itself as a very cool musical experiment. I'd say if you want something different, check it out. If you prefer to contain yourself to a specific sound, you're gonna hate this album. Either way, "Fashionably Late" will definitely be remembered by Falling In Reverse fans in the future, for better or for worse. // 5