The epic new effort from the Las Vegas metal act is their strongest and most cohesive album yet.
Falling In Reverse are a talented band of musicians, of that there is no doubt. In particular, guitarist Jacky Vincent has received wide acclaim from his peers and the music press for his almost unbelievable talent and ability to play guitar solos which could turn the fingers of lesser guitarists to shredded mush. Unfortunately, that’s not as relevant as it should be, because for many people, the name of this band is synonymous with one man only: Ronnie Radke, the band’s volatile frontman who found fame as one of the founding members of mid 00’s post hardcore heroes Escape The Fate, and a songwriting genius who’s either the saviour of the modern metal scene or the most prominent symbol of its decline, depending on who you speak to. Falling In Reverse’s 2013 effort Fashionably Late brought a whole new meaning to the word polarising, despite being a daring, creative and sparklingly original effort. So, does their new album Just Like You stand a fighting chance of getting any of their many detractors onside?
If there’s any justice then it may well do, because it’s a fascinating work, comprising a set of catchy and varied songs which provide the perfect showcases for Radke’s incisive, intelligent and often intensely personal lyrics. Opener ‘Chemical Prisoner’ is an early album highlight, and showcases just how good Falling in Reverse can be. It begins with a gentle jangling guitar riff, before opening out into a stadium filling anthem, complete with swooping guitar work and truly thunderous drums. And that’s without even mentioning the lyrics. They’re gut wrenchingly honest and if you’ve ever watched someone you care about struggle with drug addiction lines like “I’ve watched this rip apart my family” and “But when the drug is runnin’ through me I can feel no pain/It’s not worth the price I pay” come like a punch to the heart, especially when they’re delivered in Radke’s signature anguished howl. Anyone who’s ever accused him of being inauthentic must surely eat their words after hearing this, for there can be no doubt that this is a song written by someone who has experienced the pain of which he sings.
While most of the lyrical matter on this album is very personal, Falling In Reverse are just as good when they tackle the weightier issues as well. One of the best tracks on the album is the soaring ‘Wait and See’ which combines fast rapped verses with a chorus and guitar solo that could have come straight from the bombastic arena rock glory days of My Chemical Romance. It’s a song with something to say as well, with lyrics that take sharp pot-shots at the flawed nature of modern day America with lines like “We teach our children to kill instead of teaching them wisdom/And politicians waging wars blaming it on religion”.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, and while the quality stays high, the mood changes notably as the album progresses, as does the style of music. There’s ludicrously catchy pop-rock from the title track, which preaches the surprisingly uplifting message that we’re all assholes sometimes and it’s not the end of the world; there’s shatteringly brutal metal moments like ‘Guillotine IV’ that come complete with fret board destroying guitar solos and then there’s complete curveballs, like the gentle, wounded closing number ‘Brother’ a tear-jerking ode to Radke’s brother who passed away last year. Featuring nothing more than a piano to accompany the achingly vulnerable vocal, it’s an understated end to the album, but what it lacks in noise it makes up for in raw emotion.
Overall, this is another fine piece of work from the men of Falling In Reverse, an album which is rich in sharply observed confessional lyrics, dizzyingly technical and precise instrumental work and songs that somehow draw those two disparate elements together into accessible ear worms with hooks that will take up permanent residence in your brain. Just Like You is simply a musical tour de force, and it should be the album that silences Ronnie Radke’s detractors once and for all.
Just Like You is out now via Epitaph Records