Sound — 8
Gaining the attention of Interscope Records apparently had everything to do with Escape The Fate's decision to embrace a heavier sound, the product of which you'll hear on the band's self-titled debut. The Las Vegas' quartet utilizes more guitar parts for a good chunk of the record, but there are the occasional moments where you could say it delves into your traditional emo category. Those selections are outnumbered by strict post-hardcore/metalcore fare, which is driven in large part by guitarist Bryan Monte Money's technical ability and keen sense of melody. The record opens with Choose Your Fate, an instrumental for the most part that is, if you don't count the numerous chanters that repeat, Choose your fate! The dramatic intro is befitting of the other 10 tracks, which present a roller coaster ride of emotions. On one hand, you have tracks like Massacre, Gorgeous Nightmare, and Prepare Your Weapon that revolve around old-school metal riffage. The tones on Money's guitar are phenomenal throughout the whole record, but in the aforementioned tracks the tone is thrust into the forefront. At the other end of the spectrum are songs that are in the mid-tempo range and carried by vocalist Craig Mabbitt's emotional delivery in the choruses. The first single Issues once again shows off Money's skills with a memorable opening riff, with an even more engaging solo. The only issue is that the solo seems to be over before it began. Whether that was a decision driven by the fact that it's the first single or not remains to be seen, but the solo just cuts off too quickly which is a compliment to Money, as the song could only benefit from it. Zombie Dance definitely seems to play on the sudden hype with the undead, but it's a solid song for the most part that becomes more intriguing with the classical flair that Money injects into his playing. To say that Escape The Fate has written a heavy record through and through would be a fallacy. As the album winds down, the riffage isn't quite as aggressive. The band isn't afraid to slow things down drastically, either. The World Around Me is a full-on piano ballad with strings and it actually makes for a nice contrast. The closer The Aftermath (The Guillotine, Part III) combines a bit of both worlds with an Iron Maiden-like intro, verses accentuated by death vocals, and a melodic, emotional chorus to round it all out. In that same song Escape The Fate also gets a little experimental in terms of an effects-laden, vocally layered bridge (not to mention Money's best solo yet soon after) that builds up to the big finish.
Lyrics — 7
Escape the Fate does seem geared toward a specific audience, particularly with content that often involves self-doubt and discontent. Massacre, Issues, Prepare Your Weapon and Lost In Darkness are key examples for the general themes of sadness/anger, and fans will most likely appreciate the band's ability to relate. "Zombie Dance is surprisingly enough as much of a love (or lust) song as it is an ode to horror, while City of Sin delves into a world of seediness and greed. For the most part emotions (usually not the happy-go-lucky kind) are what drive the debut.
Overall Impression — 8
While the band is solid as a whole, Money's guitar work outshines in pretty much every track. Craig Mabbitt's vocals are both strong and versatile, and he can tackle pretty much any and every style from sweetly serene to caustic growl on the 11 tracks. While it's true that Escape the Fate has written heavier material, between the mid-tempo offerings and balladry, there is still plenty of room to expand upon that aggressive side in the future.