Falling In Reverse – Fashionably Late
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Falling In Reverse are back in the music scene once again with their much anticipated follow-up to the 2011 release The Drug In Me Is You. I reviewed The Drug In Me Is You back in 2011 and I am still completely enamored with that album. It has been a definite staple in my CD rotation since the day my ears were first introduced to its musical mastery. Although I was excited to hear more music from Falling In Reverse, I was also nervous that I wouldn’t love it as much as their previous album. So I am putting that fear aside and keeping an open mind.
Falling In Reverse was formed in 2006 and is led by the notorious frontman Ronnie Radke. There have been a few line-up changes since their formation, but lead guitarist Jacky Vincent and rhythm guitarist Derek Jones have been with FIR the longest joining in 2008 and 2010 respectively. The band went through several drummers until finally settling on Ryan Seaman who joined the band after the recording of The Drug In Me Is You was completed and he became an official member in 2011. The newest member of Falling In Reverse is bassist Ron Ficarro and he replaced Mika Horiuchi who left the band in January of 2012. It is worth noting that Ron Ficarro seems to be a better fit for the band and his backing vocals have added a great depth to FIR’s sound. Ficarro and Seaman’s harmonies are very solid and their tones blend nicely with each other and with Radke. Ryan Seaman and Derek Jones also tackle the responsibilities of handling portions of some of the gruffer sounding vocals.
Falling In Reverse’s music has generally been considered of the post-hardcore/post-punk/metalcore variety. With Fashionably Late there are several songs that will still be considered in those genres, but there are also other songs that will not. I have been noticing a trend over the past few years of bands bucking genre labeling and adding many different elements to their music. This is certainly not a new concept, but it does seem to be a more prevalent fixture within the music scene recently. For example, the Deftones change stylistically from album to album and are not afraid to experiment with their sound. Avenged Sevenfold is another example of a band that has several genre and style changes not just from release to release but within each CD. More recently I noted that the band Motionless In White is changing things up and mixing different genre characteristics within each individual song. Although some may not agree, I like the trend myself. I find it rather refreshing to let the musicians out of the confinement of their genres. That being said, I have adhered to the pattern of placing a band or a song in a specific genre and I will do my best to continue to do so in this review.
The first track on Fashionably Late is “Champion” and it begins with a completely metalcore feel that puts you in the comfort zone of their previous CD. The song has vocal swagger complete with cocky lyrics, “I’m not backing down. I will stand my ground because a champion is what they call me now.” The vocals are forceful, loud, dark, extreme and hit you like an atomic bomb. The verse is death/thrash metal that transects into metalcore as you hit the melodic chorus. The bridge/breakdown converges with Radke spitting out some rap style rhymes then you are delivered back into that metalcore groove. The bass and drum work are prominent on this track and the song closes out with the guitar sounds of Jacky Vincent.
Track 2 is “Bad Girls Club” and it definitely has a sense of humor that is inspired by vocalist Ronnie Radke’s ability to attract the “she’s fucking crazy” kind of girl in his past relationships. This song is absolutely pop punk/pop rock and there is no way to debate that at all. I didn’t care for the ladies of the “Bad Girls Club” chiming in here and there in the background with the cheerleader chant. This chick click sound will appeal to a portion of FIR’s target audience, so it is just a matter of taste and opinion it is just not my preference. The chorus is completely noteworthy “and after all the rise and fall you’re not worth my time.” I indubitably like the rise and fall of the vocals on this track and taking the elements I don’t care for aside, it is an enjoyable song. It even has a tie in to the song “The Drug In Me Is You” from FIR’s last CD “your love is like a drug but it is not enough,” and has a few funny references to social media “#setmefree.”
“Rolling Stone” is metalcore with a dash of the nu-metal variety and a touch of dubstep. Even with the additional styles and the rapping within the song FIR fans really should not have anything to complain about. The rap aspect is a very minor part of the song and it does not affect the song’s flow. The gruff and straight vocals are strong and the song is well-built. The drumming on this track is noticeably excellent and it is one of the many factors why this song works. I have to say, nice work on this track Seaman.
The next song “Fashionably Late” is the title track of the album and was the second single released by the band. This is indeed another track that falls within the pop punk genre. It takes being addicted to a hook to a whole new level. It is one of those songs you catch yourself randomly singing. At its core this song is about discovering that the person you are with is not the person you want and in reality you would prefer their friend(s), “and after all you’re not my type, but all your friends are pretty nice.” This song is extremely light-hearted and the poster child of why you should not make it a habit of being late to meet your significant other. “Fashionably Late” has an irresistible beat with a very tongue in cheek delivery and it begs to be played on mainstream radio.
Track 5 “Alone” was released on May 7, 2013 and it was also the first single from Fashionably Late. “Alone” was recorded well after the CD had been finished, but made its way onto the CD at the band’s label Epitaph Records suggestion. This single was received with quite a bit of controversy because this song had navigated completely away from Falling In Reverse’s usual sound. I personally really love “Alone,” I like the raw emotion it contains and in many ways I can relate to some of the sentiments that are expressed.
In my opinion “Alone” is a multidimensional rap styled musical fusion of pure emotional force and it is completely outside of the box compared to Falling In Reverse’s first CD. The verse sections are delivered with the screw you attitude, the look what I have and you don’t frame of mind. “Alone” gives a big fuck off to individuals who critique other’s achievements when they don’t possess the talent or work ethic to be successful themselves. It dismisses those who talk “chatter” with purely hostile intentions all while safely hidden behind a computer screen. “I find it kind of funny the shit you say in your tweets, but when we’re face to face you ain’t got nothing to say to me!” The chorus flips the scrip and is extremely melodic. Instead of arrogance and invincibility what you hear is vulnerability. How can you look past those that dislike you, when you can’t find permission to like yourself? So in this seemingly endless cycle you can have everything in the world, but you can still be alone.
As far as the video for “Alone” goes, contrary to some of the criticism about its content I find nothing out of the ordinary for a rock video. It actually fits quite well with the overall vibe of the song. Videos are for entertainment and I was entertained.
With “Born to Lead” we head back into post-hardcore/metalcore territory and it features a guest appearance from Day of Reckoning guitarist Rusty Cooley. “Born to Lead” is over 5 minutes long, which is hard to find these days, and it packs a lot musical elements in that time. The guitars are a major part of the success of “Born to Lead.” Jacky Vincent is an extremely talented guitarist and this song spotlights his skill and Derek Jones is as solid as ever in the sometimes underappreciated rhythm guitar position. The vocal intro has a very impassioned delivery, but once the dual sounding guitars began this song takes off. It has a seamless transition between clean and gravelly vocals. It has a great chorus and a pretty cool breakdown that showcases not only the band’s serious guitar skill but Ron Ficarro’s bass aptitude and Ryan Seaman’s stick work. This is a great track.
I really love the next song “It’s Over When It’s Over” and this is what I would call a stadium anthem it’s big song and it deserves to be presented in front of a large audience. The vocals on the verse sections transition from very breathy, to rap and then into a very melodic feel. The bridge is very moving and Radke’s passionate vocal technique is perfection. I cannot relay with mere words how much I truly enjoy this song and it is a testament to the fact that Falling In Reverse is far from being over. “It’s Over When It’s Over” is one of those songs that you get because it gets you.
Ronnie Radke is at his best when he pulls back the layers and his music comes from a personal place. Radke does not get enough credit for his skills as a lyricist and his inane talent of putting together impressive songs with great hooks, he is simply good. Some people can’t look past the bullshit and just see the music. They get caught up in the forest and can’t see past the trees.
With the next track we go from a very emotional place to a very carefree atmosphere with “Game Over.” Sound wise it has a bit of a Blink-182 vibe going on and discusses life experiences explained via video game lingo. Not surprisingly “Game Over” has a very solidly built hook that you will want to hear again because that is a part of this track that wins. I am not completely sold on this song, but it is very comical in places and definitely has a sense of humor.
“Self-Destruct Personality” is a style extravaganza. There are so many differing elements to this song I am not even going to try to explain them all. The track begins with a really impressive scream, one of several superb screams. Considering the utter intensity of the song, the chorus, in contrast, is pretty harmoniously laid back. The song has a fantastic guitar solo that brings back the feel of the guitar gods of the past where there were always confidence infused larger than life solos and they sounded outstanding. If you have aggressions that need attending too, just give this song a listen.
After the intense experience of “Self-Destruct Personality” we move on to “Fuck The Rest” and contrary to the song’s title “Fuck The Rest” is an up tempo upbeat song that even has a guest appearance by Radke’s beloved dog Charlie. The lyrics seem to track Ronnie Radke’s personal journey in life and what he has gone through, growing up and moving on. “It’s over, I’m older, I’m alive, I’m sober. Believe me, I’m living, I’m happy, I’m winning. Faster, faster, I am on my way.” As for the genre of the song I say “let’s hope for the best and just say fuck the rest” and there you have it.
Track 11 is “Keep Holding On” and this is an extremely touching song that keeps a relaxed steady building pace and the tempo is exactly where it should be. Every element of this song is moving, the piano arrangement the lyrics the emotive vocals the guitar solo, everything is just above and beyond. When the bridge erupts this song soars “I believe I’m just like you, I believe I’ll make it through. It’s hard to see at times like this, I’m not giving in, I’m not giving in.” Those heartfelt vocals move into a majestic guitar solo. I sincerely adore “Keep Holding On” and this is one of my favorite tracks. I believe this song shows Ronnie Radke is at a place in his life where he’s acknowledging his missteps and is trying to mature. This is a beautifully written song lyrically and musically from the first note until the steady tempo of the drums carries you through until the end.
The last song “Drifter” caught me a bit off guard because of its country western groove. I know country western say what? Once you get past the shock of the country laden tempo you will find lyrics that will pull at your heart-strings. Ronnie Radke has a pattern of each CD ending with a song that focuses on his upbringing and being abandoned by his mother and raised by his father. “Drifter” associates a nomadic existence being traced back to the pain of an unstable environment and the uncertainty of being loved or wanted by a parent. The song closes with “I surrender, curse my mother’s soul, I still miss her, no matter where I go, it’s time for me to pack my bags, I will always be alone, the only thing I’ve ever know is a broken home.” I am sure that a lot of people will relate to the lyrics of this song, because unfortunately there is an abundance of broken homes out there.
If you picked up the Deluxe Edition of Fashionably Late you got 3 additional bonus tracks: The first is a really good song with plenty of rhythm and edge called “Where Have You Been,” then you have the pop punk infused track called “Goddamn” that is in the vein of A Day To Remember and then the last bonus track is the Shy Kidx dubstepping remix of the song “Rolling Stone.”
How do you sum up Fashionably Late? It is not The Drug In Me Is You or even Dying Is Your Latest Fashion. There are elements of both albums on this CD, but one of the differences from then to now is the level of anger present. Anger is no longer the driving force behind FIR’s music. The first time I heard this CD I wasn’t sure I liked it, because there was so much pressure to match The Drug In Me Is You in my heart. I had to let that go and truly listen to Fashionably Late. There are parts that didn’t completely blow me away, but there were more parts that absolutely did. I believe Fashionably Late’s musicality is better and it is sonically stronger than The Drug In Me Is You. The lower end tones have more weight, the bass is supporting the kick and there is a nice rhythm throughout. It simply sounds good vocally and musically.
Fashionably Late as a whole is a remarkable album and something I feel Falling In Reverse should be proud of. There will be plenty of hate towards this CD but there will also be plenty of love. Those hardcore FIR fans understand Falling In Reverse’s vision and they are not going anywhere. I rate Fashionably Late 9.4 out of 10 stars and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be putting this CD in heavy rotation.
You can purchase the CD at:
Merch Bundles: http://www.fallinginreversestore.com/
- Bad Girls Club
- Rolling Stone
- Fashionably Late
- Born To Lead
- It’s Over When It’s Over
- Game Over
- Self-Destruct Personality
- Fuck The Rest
- Keep Holding On
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
- Where Have You Been
- Rolling Stone (Shy Kidx Remix)