Sound — 4
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 Reverse Ronnie 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.
Lyrics — 3
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.
Overall Impression — 3
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.