Falling In Reverse have always been one of the more controversial post-hardcore bands, thanks mainly to their outspoken frontman Ronnie Radke. His chequered past, many music industry feuds and often outrageous lyrics mean that for every person who absolutely detests him, there is one who worships the very ground he walks on, with very little middle ground in between. Even with that in mind though, no one could have predicted just how polarizing the band’s second album Fashionably Late was going to be. It’s been released less than a week and already two camps have formed. The album has been described as “incredible” by some and as containing “lyrical atrocities of an unimaginable level” by others. With all this in mind though, what does the album actually sound like, and more importantly, is it any good?
Certainly opening track ‘Champion’ initially seems to be business as usual for the band, with a mix of guttural screamed verses and an upbeat pop inspired chorus until we get about two thirds of the way into the song, at which point everything stops and Ronnie breaks into a blisteringly fast rap. Yes, a rap. On what’s supposed to be a post-hardcore album. And this isn’t an isolated occurrence either, as both ‘Alone’ (the first single from the album) and ‘Rolling Stone’ also feature rap. While the presence of rap is jarring at first, Radke is a reasonably adept rapper and it works surprisingly well with the opinionated, egotistical lyrics that are a staple of Falling In Reverse’s music.
However, rap is not the only surprise lurking on Fashionably Late, and dubstep breakdowns also crop up on a couple of tracks, most notably on ‘Rolling Stone’, a marvellously bonkers song which manages to cram dubstep, furious hard rock guitar shredding, rap, screamed vocals and catchy, clean vocal choruses into 3 minutes and 53 seconds of total insanity. It’s also probably the only rock song ever that has featured lyrics about avocados, just in case everything wasn’t confusing enough already.
Slotted comfortably between the genre defying extremes of ‘Rolling Stone’ and ‘Champion’ there is a huge variety of different kinds of songs, which seem to draw inspiration from every corner of the music industry. There are extremely heavy moments, such as the dark, incredibly personal lyrics and crashing metal guitars of ‘Self Destruct Personality’ and lighter, poppy moments on ‘Bad Girls Club’ and ‘Fashionably Late’, with their cocky, tongue-in-cheek, casually misogynistic lyrics. There’s even a country song hidden away at the end of the record, which sees Ronnie take a brief rest from the constant braggadocio to embark on a moment of rare introspection.
While Ronnie Radke is undoubtedly an engaging frontman, Fashionably Late’s finest moment comes when he takes a step back to allow the talents of his band to shine through. ‘Born To Lead’ is probably the closest Fashionably Late has to a proper, uncomplicated post-hardcore song but it’s still so much more than that. The instrumental section features duelling lead and bass guitar to stunning effect and the guitar solo proves that Falling In Reverse guitarist, and local Portsmouth boy, Jacky Vincent is one of the most talented guitarists playing at the moment. Anyone with even a passing interest in learning guitar should listen to his work on ‘Born To Lead’, as it really is astonishing, and provides a timely reminder that Falling In Reverse is a band containing incredibly talented musicians, not just a vehicle for its outspoken frontman.
Overall, Fashionably Late contains a dizzying array of genres and does not always make for a cohesive listening experience. However, the sheer amount of different influences contained within this album makes it one of the most exciting, original and creative albums in recent memory. It’s a radical departure for Falling In Reverse and will undoubtedly put off a lot of their fans and have many rock purists up in arms. Despite this, it’s unique, surprising and unlike anything else I’ve ever heard, and everybody who loves music owes it to themselves to pick this album up and give it a listen. You’ll absolutely hate it or it’ll fill you with joy, but either way, you definitely won’t be bored.