One of the many reasons historians will condemn the early 21st century is the rise of glametalcore. Purveyed by groups such as Steel Panther and Asking Alexandria, this sound blends the abrasive vocals and breakdowns of metalcore with the flamboyance and catchiness of glam metal. Escape The Fate have been torchbearers of the sub-genre ever since they ditched Ronnie Radke in 2008; on their fourth album- which has been three years in the making- the band show a desire to progress held back by their stylistic limits.
On thrashing guitars and the spiteful vocals of Craig Mabbitt, the opener begins with all the malice calling an album Ungrateful suggests. It's strange to hear Mabbitt convey any sense of anger or despondency considering the ongoing success of Escape The Fate, in spite of a fluctuating lineup and a messy split from Interscope. However, Mabbitt's vocals are a merely a part of an atmosphere of drudgery punctuated by self-help hooks; 'stand up and scream while the rest of the world won't make a sound,' before launching into another breakdown.
The glam/metal binary is tampered with over the course of the album and is departed from at limited points. Following track "Until We Die" overwhelmingly leans towards change, with parts of it appearing heavily influenced by Fall Out Boy (whose singer, Patrick Stump, co-writes a song here. More on that later). "Live Fast, Die Beautiful," "Forget About Me" and "You're Insane" largely meld into one, mainly due to the indistinct vocals of Mabbitt and the talented yet excessive guitar playing of the Money brothers, Brian 'Monte' and Michael. The problem lies mainly with the six stringers, all too happy to throw in shredding and dive bombs merely to distract from the decaying formula.
Following tracks "Chemical Love" and "Picture Perfect" suggest the way forward for Escape The Fate. The first begins on pedestrian electronics before a restrained turn from Mabbitt, backed by the drums of Robert Ortiz and glimpses of The Moneys. There's a strange coherency between the outlandish yet held-back guitars, the flow of Mabbitt and the general simplicity of on display; deceptively suggesting they've forgotten the stylistic cues they're bound to. The second follows much of the first, featuring pianos, clarifying drums, further electronic influences and mere stabs of guitar. It has all the fingerprints of Patrick Stump, melding his knowledge of pop with the band's signature tones. It works well, easily being the best track on Ungrateful and possibly in their career so far. These two tracks may not be much, but they are more than the filler they could be seen as. Indeed, they could be the evolution their peers experienced; Asking Alexandria, now Slipknot for the Tumblr generation, Steel Panther, full time comedy act and sometime band.
Overall, Ungrateful will be just what Escape The Fate fans want; by the numbers breakdowns, horns-stirring harmonised leads, the shifting vocals of Mabbitt. On the whole, that isn't much, leading to a repetitive, boring listen. However, the minutest signs of change suggest that, perhaps, the band are ready to change, just as they did when they grabbed the hairspray and Guns 'N Roses references back in 2008; the question is when.
3.0 / 10
Posted Dec. 15, 2013, 3:52 p.m.
The Dead Rabbits, featuring Craig Mabbitt (Escape the Fate), will release a new LP on Tragic Hero Records. The band released the EP Edge of Reality last year. In addition ...
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