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AAA Music | 15 June 2019

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Escape The Fate – Escape The Fate

| On 12, Dec 2010

It can be argued that one of the greatest advantages a band can have in the music industry is a unique sound to grab attention. As it has proven with Escape The Fate. In the process of dominating the American “post-hardcore” emo scene, they have established a guttural and distorted, yet hooky and highly-polished brand of punky metal that incorporates aspects of pop and even electronica to create something that is almost instantly recognisable even among the scene. Carrying on where they left off, they offer up their third album, a self-titled ten-track effort. However, I can’t help but feel uninspired by what is on offer.

The intro track, ‘Choose Your Fate’, plays up to genre tropes immediately: a short buildup of eerie atmosphere, featuring a Danny Elfman-style chiming melody underlaid by synthesised percussion, all of which is gradually dominated by a crowd chant and stadium rock chords-and-drums moment.

Plunging us into the usual realm of metalcore, ‘Massacre’ kicks off with a savage guitar riff that sounds like Cerberus’ bark through a distortion pedal. This, coupled with the no-holds-barred drum attack gives us a fairly promising neo-metal opening, but then the main substance of the track lands, and things take a turn for the bland, as rising from the death metal-isms comes a glitched-out and heavily processed stadium chorus sprawls out over the whole thing. The verses are a real headbanger to relish, but the chorus sterilises it with processed vocals and trite lyricism, and the solo/instrumental sections can’t help but feel stunted in this context. Similarly, ‘Issues’ blasts off with intrigue, as the heavy guitars are offset by a pseudo-dance groove beat, but the song itself feels uncomfortably trite and is awkwardly reminiscent of teen-pop that’s simply discovered Metallica, and ‘Prepare Your Weapon’ is a choice cut of modern emo mainstream, but the contrast gets grating at best as churning riffs aren’t so much offset as contradicted by stadium rock.

Thankfully, there are moments on this album where the melodic grandeur and indeed silliness of the material gels with the band’s repressed instrumental intrigue. For all you Mansonites out there, ‘Zombie Dance’ is a catchy little number featuring a bouncy pop energy slung rakishly over heavy riffs and darker-than-thou imagery to create a distinct guilty-pleasure track that screams out that it is the bastard child of ‘Mechanical Animals’-era Marilyn Manson. Carrying on, the filthy dark synths and bassy groove of ‘Gorgeous Nightmare’ is a slick and saccharine-bleak cut of teen angst wrapped in layers of synth-pop and heavy metal. The bleating vocals, usually irritating, find their footing on such a creepingly dark and paranoid track. Indeed, even the atmospheric keyboard/guitar effects silliness of ‘Lost In Darkness’ has its little moments. Glib as a prepubescent poetry attempts, the enjoyment is found in sonic chemistry and addictive hooks.

However, the pop gets all too much on ‘City Of Sin’, where the heavy pretence feels little more than posturing as the track, with its club dancefloor lyrics and Lady Gaga synths bring to mind a hypothetical Aiden-covering-JLS scenario, in jarring contrast to the angst-driven metal tracks.

And what would metal of any stripe be without a ballad? ‘World Around Me’ brings in all those lighter-held-aloft tropes in the most cringeworthy manner. Heartfelt and suitably downbeat lyrics mix with cliché piano-driven melody and a slow 4/4 beat. There’s even strings and acoustic guitar for good measure. Then as closure, we return to the METAL in the scale-bothering death metal screamo madness of ‘The Aftermath’, which brings in some real stomping drums, spiralling synths, snarled vocals, tight riffs and seismic guitar. And Bono choruses. However, these are thankfully fewer than you’d think, and the prevalence of so much sonic chaos makes them palatable until the end where it all becomes so much overwrought self-indulgence on all fronts.

Escape The Fate do indeed occupy an arguably distinct place on the map of modern music. However whether it is an enviable one is another question entirely. There are moments of enjoyable music here, and the instrumental happenings border on the enjoyable when in their element. However the rampant boyband-isms and tamed, sterile production feel pitched at thirteen-year-old girls just discovering alternative music. However thirteen-year-old angsty girls (myself once among their ranks) do grow up, and grow cynical, especially when confronted by such a glib album that could be so much better. Guys, you are on your third album, let’s start showing some maturity.

It can be argued that one of the greatest advantages a band can have in the music industry is a unique sound to grab attention. As it has proven with Escape The Fate. In the process of dominating the American “post-hardcore” emo scene, they have established a guttural and distorted, yet hooky and highly-polished brand of punky metal that incorporates aspects of pop and even electronica to create something that is almost instantly recognisable even among the scene. Carrying on where they left off, they offer up their third album, a self-titled ten-track effort. However, I can’t help but feel uninspired by what is on offer.

The intro track, ‘Choose Your Fate’, plays up to genre tropes immediately: a short buildup of eerie atmosphere, featuring a Danny Elfman-style chiming melody underlaid by synthesised percussion, all of which is gradually dominated by a crowd chant and stadium rock chords-and-drums moment.

Plunging us into the usual realm of metalcore, ‘Massacre’ kicks off with a savage guitar riff that sounds like Cerberus’ bark through a distortion pedal. This, coupled with the no-holds-barred drum attack gives us a fairly promising neo-metal opening, but then the main substance of the track lands, and things take a turn for the bland, as rising from the death metal-isms comes a glitched-out and heavily processed stadium chorus sprawls out over the whole thing. The verses are a real headbanger to relish, but the chorus sterilises it with processed vocals and trite lyricism, and the solo/instrumental sections can’t help but feel stunted in this context. Similarly, ‘Issues’ blasts off with intrigue, as the heavy guitars are offset by a pseudo-dance groove beat, but the song itself feels uncomfortably trite and is awkwardly reminiscent of teen-pop that’s simply discovered Metallica, and ‘Prepare Your Weapon’ is a choice cut of modern emo mainstream, but the contrast gets grating at best as churning riffs aren’t so much offset as contradicted by stadium rock.

Thankfully, there are moments on this album where the melodic grandeur and indeed silliness of the material gels with the band’s repressed instrumental intrigue. For all you Mansonites out there, ‘Zombie Dance’ is a catchy little number featuring a bouncy pop energy slung rakishly over heavy riffs and darker-than-thou imagery to create a distinct guilty-pleasure track that screams out that it is the bastard child of ‘Mechanical Animals’-era Marilyn Manson. Carrying on, the filthy dark synths and bassy groove of ‘Gorgeous Nightmare’ is a slick and saccharine-bleak cut of teen angst wrapped in layers of synth-pop and heavy metal. The bleating vocals, usually irritating, find their footing on such a creepingly dark and paranoid track. Indeed, even the atmospheric keyboard/guitar effects silliness of ‘Lost In Darkness’ has its little moments. Glib as a prepubescent poetry attempts, the enjoyment is found in sonic chemistry and addictive hooks.

However, the pop gets all too much on ‘City Of Sin’, where the heavy pretence feels little more than posturing as the track, with its club dancefloor lyrics and Lady Gaga synths bring to mind a hypothetical Aiden-covering-JLS scenario, in jarring contrast to the angst-driven metal tracks.

And what would metal of any stripe be without a ballad? ‘World Around Me’ brings in all those lighter-held-aloft tropes in the most cringeworthy manner. Heartfelt and suitably downbeat lyrics mix with cliché piano-driven melody and a slow 4/4 beat. There’s even strings and acoustic guitar for good measure. Then as closure, we return to the METAL in the scale-bothering death metal screamo madness of ‘The Aftermath’, which brings in some real stomping drums, spiralling synths, snarled vocals, tight riffs and seismic guitar. And Bono choruses. However, these are thankfully fewer than you’d think, and the prevalence of so much sonic chaos makes them palatable until the end where it all becomes so much overwrought self-indulgence on all fronts.

Escape The Fate do indeed occupy an arguably distinct place on the map of modern music. However whether it is an enviable one is another question entirely. There are moments of enjoyable music here, and the instrumental happenings border on the enjoyable when in their element. However the rampant boyband-isms and tamed, sterile production feel pitched at thirteen-year-old girls just discovering alternative music. However thirteen-year-old angsty girls (myself once among their ranks) do grow up, and grow cynical, especially when confronted by such a glib album that could be so much better. Guys, you are on your third album, let’s start showing some maturity.

Author: Katie H-Halinski