Sound — 8
I've got to be honest. This band came out of nowhere with the release of their last album, "Creation/Destruction." Since then, they acquired a new clean vocalist/bassist after the departure of Aaron Kadura. I didn't mind the clean vocals from Aaron at first, but now I can't listen to past material from these guys. The cleans just seemed too whiny. Ryan O'Leary was definitely what these guys needed. Quite honestly, he's the best clean singer I've heard in this genre in a long time. So, other than that, what else? Ryan Kirby is kicking some major a-s, as usual. In fact, his highs seem even better than previous releases. Guitar work I can't really praise as much, as there is a lot of just straight chug, and simple one note plays. But this is what FFAK seems to do the best. They write amazing music, despite how simple the song structure may be.
Lyrics — 9
"Kill the Pain," the very first track happens to actually be my favorite track, lyrically:
"I've filled my veins with poison
And silenced my voice just to take another breath
I've broken my vows to you a thousand times before
I'm losing myself, sit back and watch me die
How can I say that I'm scared of death."
"Young & Undeserving" is a song that is even described by the band. Vocalist Ryan Kirby said, "The song is basically about how our new bass player Ryan O'Leary experienced a lot of loss. We wanted to write a song coming from the point of view of somebody who doesn't believe or is angry at God, saying, 'Why would you take my friend? How can you say this good person, who wasn't a Christian, is going to Hell?' The song is very frustrated, lyrically. We wanted it to have this realism that even when you're a Christian, you still struggle with thinking, 'How could my friend pass away and live an awesome life and be nothing but a good person and then not go to Heaven?'"
"Break Away" is another track that is about a friend of O'Leary's that has been suffering in substance and alcohol use. I'm not entirely sure what the title track is about, but it definitely has something to do with God.
Overall Impression — 6
FFAK will always be a band that seems to keep it somewhat simple regarding technicality. There isn't much, which isn't a bad thing. I enjoyed the brief guitar solo at the start of "The Final Thoughts of a Dying Man." "Hooked" was really riffy, which also happens to be my favorite track. "Imposter," and "Young & Undeserving" are also another some of my favorites. You will find some pretty riffy spots here and there on this album, but also a lot of chugging, especially on the title track. Also, be aware that "A Greater Sense of Self"'s instrumentation at the beginning does sound a bit like Northlane's "Quantum Flux." Overall, this album is very melodic, from Ryan's amazing clean singing in verses and choruses to Ryan's incredible range of scream to some hooky guitar riffs here and there to some pretty intense drumming. This album will be more well known in FFAK's catalogue, as well as a fairly well known release for the year. Hopefully, they continue to grow as a band and experiment and expand more. But other than that, great job, boys.