It’s hard not to take a passing interest in the car crash that is the life of Falling in Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke. He’s been involved in the shooting death of a man in Las Vegas, been on all sorts of drugs, done 2 years jail for breaching his bail conditions, was unceremoniously ousted from his own band Escape The Fate and reportedly has an enthusiastic penchant for spousal abuse….yep, he’s that sorta guy.
However, history is littered with examples of brilliant musicians who’ve done hard time, so let’s judge him by his music shall we.
Unfortunately for Ronnie and the rest of Falling in Reverse this album in no way redeems his “personal qualities”. In fact the criteria for membership in the band seems to be the ability to endure Rotten Ronnie’s company for any length of time, because it sure as hell ain’t songwriting chops or musicianship.
Here’s what this album consists of: Every genre that’s popular right now forced through a tree shredder; the mangled remains stripped of any lingering originality or inspiration, then haphazardly pasted back together (held tenuously by the adhesion of Radke’s own hubris) and the resultant abomination buffed within an inch of its life with industrial grade studio polish…
There’s second-rate metalcore, emo, rap, inane pop, power metal and even dubstep all vying for position on this stinking cowpat of a disc. Properly executed, some of these combined styles could actually work, but the band switches between them arbitrarily with no regard for structure or crescendo.
I mean, one minute Radke’s in “cheeky” mode, singing about sleeping with his girlfriend’s pals in his best Tom Delonge voice, the next he’s screaming his head off about gutting you with a broken bottle! This would be hilarious were it not so contrived and forced. There’s just such a cheesy populist element to this band; the experience of listening to Fashionably Late is like being force fed a mix of icing sugar and habanero chillies while watching William Shatner’s rendition of “Rocket Man”. Saccharine, sickening, excruciatingly painful and occasionally hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
Leaving aside Reprobate Ronnie for a second, some of the guitar work is ok, despite being highly unoriginal and th….hang on….oh GOD NO, they’ve discovered sweep picking!! NO!! Lame-arsed rapcore with poorly executed “shredding” pasted over the top…it’s like my worst nightmare made flesh! How this band made it onto the legendary Epitaph record label is beyond me. At least the album only goes for 48 minutes….unless you got the deluxe edition, in which case please have yourself professionally examined.
Yeah so the music’s rubbish, but being 2013 surely the production is ok? Nup. Everything is slammed with compression and the cut’n’pastes and vocal edits are unforgivably conspicuous.
Here’s the thing. Radke can’t sing. Every single verse has several punch ins/outs…he can’t even string one fucking verse together! The studio’s compressors and autotune units must have copped an absolute flogging during the recording sessions and the resulting vocal sound is something totally artificial save for Radke’s maddeningly irritating Las Vegas twang. Such is his reliance on the safety net of studio vocal treatments, his name should be stricken from the album sleeve and replaced with “Vocals brought to you by Antares and ctrl-v”!
Even worse still are the lyrics! The entire lyrical content of this album is all about the man of the moment RONNIE RADKE (did you get that yet) and is utterly horrific. His tough guy posturing is impossible to take seriously and some of it is unintentionally hilarious. I won’t torture you too much but how’s this for poetic genius?
From “Rolling Stone” (Original song name there Ronnie):
“I got that white boy swagger rappin’ right down to a T
I got my hand up on the throttle holdin’ up a broken bottle
Ready to cut you up and gut you like a fucking avocado…
I’m getting kicks outta this shit like it was my sneakers
And the game fears me like a motherfucking wifebeater”
Oh yes, I’m sure it does….terrifying.
And this sheer awesomeness from “Alone”:
“Fuck you bitches, I’m a business
I’ll be kissing on your missus.
What you spend in 15 months is what I spend in 15 minutes
Oh! Don’t give a fuck about you
You hear me talking motherfucker, and there’s nothing you can do
You’re a bitch, you’re a prick
Don’t make me pull the plug…
I’ve got a lot of people talking nothing but chatter,
Why’d you switch your style up, and that I don’t matter
Man, I’ve been in rap since I was shitting in Pampers
Climb the ladder to the top and now I’m shitting on rappers”
Look out Kanye West! Never mind JAY Z, Rappin’ Ronnie’s coming to usurp the hip-hop throne!! NOT!
Normally at this point in the review I’d list standout tracks. Well there’s one. And it stands out because it’s even worse than the rest of the calamitously execrable tripe on offer. “Alone”: An inconceivably terrible attempt at mixing metalcore with hip-hop. There’s the tough guy braggadocio as indicated by the lyrics above, trite techno synth lines, stammering vocal edits and the coup de grace: the “breakdown”. You really have to see the film clip to fully appreciate this, but the band’s moves are completely choreographed. Choreographed hardcore…. Yes, that’s right….like a metalcore Status Quo. It’s some of the funniest/most dreadful shit I’ve seen in years and is the musical equivalent of Kuru Disease: laughter inducing but ultimately tragic.
It’s hard to envisage even tweeny scene kids being impressed with this album. Most of the genres the band steal from are declining in popularity and it’s only their carefully manicured image that’s keeping them afloat.
They’ve got the right hairstyles, the right poses, and tatts in all the right places, but guess what Ronnie? Those tatts ain’t gonna rub off when no one gives a fuck about this pitiful excuse for a band anymore. And that’s just around the corner.
This record gets a point for some of the guitar playing and half a point for making me laugh my arse off at the sheer disastrous absurdity of it.