Escape The Fate

Ungrateful

Written by: TL on 31/07/2013 13:53:57

Escape The Fate is the kind of band that has so many peripheral storylines to their name that I'd have a review's worth of text if I elaborated on them all. So here are the cliff notes: The band blew up while fronted by Ronnie Radke, when they released "Dying Is Your Latest Fashion" in 2006. After his much-covered involvement in a case of manslaughter and failing to meet the terms of his parole however, Radke went to jail and ETF instead became the home of rising star Craig Mabbitt, who chose them over his other projects Blessthefall and The Word Alive. After a decently catchy and entertaining debut with Mabbitt in 2008's "This War Is Ours" however, 2010's self-titled manifested as a cliché rock'n'roll paradox in becoming the band's most commercially successful release, while being 100% forgetable drivel and completely critically irrelevant. Meanwhile, both guitarist Omar Espinosa and bassist Max Green have been replaced by Michael Money and TJ Bell respectively.

Phew, did I miss something?

Well, truth be told, I missed the release of the new album "Ungrateful" completely when it came out back in May, and only stumbled upon it by chance a few weeks ago, making note to check it out while hoping to discover a return of some of the elements that lent the band's first two albums some charm. On it, Mabbitt and his compadres continue to straddle the line between commercial clean/scream metalcore and 80's style hard rock alá Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses or more recent torch-carriers like Buckcherry. The opening title track sets the tone straight away with a screamed verse giving way to Mabbitt's unmistakably decadent cleans in the chorus, all the while underscored by the animated guitar-antics of brothers Max and Michael Money.

Realistically speaking, the album does have issues seeming stylistically relevant in 2013, and being a shamelessly commercial rock'n'roll record, it suffers all the usual problems of formulaic songwriting and a glossy production that neglects the bass for stretches at a time. When I don't think it's quite fair to offer Escape The Fate the same responses of distaste and disappointment that seemed prudent when suffering through their self-titled, it's frankly because I get the feeling that the Money brothers, having only recently united as proper members when Michael was promoted from touring member, sound like they are having loads of fun coming up with the brazen riffage that holds the centre of the album.

It might not be a total coincidence then, that the ridiculous "One For The Money" has turned out to be one of the most fun songs on the album, despite removing any shadow of doubt from the fact that these guys are willing to settle for some flat out retarded lyricism in aiming for the lowest common denominator. On the flipside though, there's actually a surprising amount of awareness hidden in the verses to other highlights like the banging "Forget About Me" or "Live Fast, Die Beautiful" (which features Caleb Shomo on guest vocals), while the strangely hopeful tones of "I Alone" conjure up references to My Chemical Romance and memories of "This War Is Ours" stand-out "Ashley".

Still, even these most potent cuts on "Ungrateful" fall short of the strongest tracks from the band's two first albums by some length, and moreover, the remaining eight songs that have gone unmentioned up to this point, can rightfully be written off as typical filler material that's decent enough background music, yet nothing that'll impact your memory or emotions in any meaningful way. Even "Picture Perfect" falls short of any tangible effect despite being co-written by Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump.

In conclusion, I think that if Escape The Fate continues to find commercial success, it's going to be more because of image than because of the strength of their songs, and it's easy to get the feeling that they're still trying to re-find their direction after the line-up changes at guitar and bass, while "Ungrateful" has turned out as a product of their obligations to their label and keeping their buzz alive. So while it's good to hear some newfound spark from the Money brothers, and both cheek and vitriol in the always intriguing Mabbitt, "Ungrateful" is still more remarkable for a couple of songs worth of mindless fun, than for being a particularly great record by any stretch of the imagination.

Download: One For The Money; Live Fast, Die Beautiful; Forget About Me; I Alone
For The Fans Of: Black Veil Brides, Falling In Reverse, Bullet For My Valentine, Papa Roach
Listen: facebook.com/escapethefate

Release Date 14.05.2013
Eleven Seven

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