Dear Diary, We Are Back In Business Motherfuckers!
Think back to an age when Escape The Fate still had Ronnie Radke as their singer, to a time when My Chemical Romance were one of the biggest alternative bands going, to when The Used’s Bert McCracken still had that long, greasy mop of hair, this is an age when From First To Last thrived. After ten years together, they went on an indefinite hiatus in 2010, and went about their own lives and projects. Yet in 2013, seemingly out of nowhere, the band resurfaced with a half new/half old lineup, kind of like the ninth season of Scrubs (never forget). Thus, in 2014, the lineup was fully solidified, and the surprisingly exceeded funds from a Kickstarter campaign morphed the plans of releasing an EP into writing a new full-length album, which would become the spectacular album we have now - 'Dead Trees'.
Let's get this out the way first: 'Dead Trees' is one the best albums to come from the sextet. It's the culmination of all of their sounds and their history pooled together, all backed up by one great and talented lineup. Each of these 12 new songs stand out and there really is no filler to be found on here, which could have very easily been the case. Furthermore, you can really tell the band have taken care with these songs. Speaking of which, these tracks feel new and fresh, and the sound they've crafted is one that's both familiar and refreshing.
But hey fans - don't fret. Their music is still dark, still catchy and still heavy. After the foreboding and constantly building ‘Heresy’, the first actual song, ‘Straight To The Face’ is a dark, messy, chaotic one and a half metalcore banger and it may not be the introduction you were expecting from a band known for this and this. However, you can see still the original essence of the band's heyday (the 'Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count' and 'Heroine' days) in these songs, but they thankfully have a lot of extra polish and shine in the mixes, in the instrumentation, and in the performances too. All of this is seen, and confirmed one song later in 'H8 Meh', and the result is a far more realised version of From First To Last, making this second time round the better of the two.
This album also features some of the heaviest music the band have released to date, with 'Electrified' getting a special mention, but by far, '2-11' is easily the heaviest draw card. If you didn't know any better, you could actually write this off as being a new Periphery track. However, with that being said, old school fans will still notice the same old poppy/heavy crossover of the mid noughties FFTL. The tracks that embody this mix the most are the anthemic title track and the slick, and epically dark 'I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good' (nice Harry Potter reference, guys).
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While the aforementioned songs are some of the best of the bunch, there's one more that deserves a very special mention, and that's 'I Don't Wanna Live In The World'. This is a very quirky, satirical yet serious number about the bullshit the human race exerts of 2015. From Monsanto fucking with food stocks because they're just plain evil, to endless news cycles about bullshit no one really cares about (like the new royal baby for instance), about celebrity culture, the future of mankind, the death of countless species, harmful beauty products, omnipresent watchful governments, mind control, paranoia, fear, war: this song practically covers it all, and its content alone makes it one of the most interesting tracks off the album.
Of course, the big surprise from the band, apart from the reunion that is, is that Periphery frontman Spencer Soleto is belting out vocal hooks for the band now. Soleto fits right into the folds of From First To Last so well that it makes Skrillex's vocals just a far off distant memory. Sure, Sonny Moore did have character in his voice, and his voice suited the noughties scene days, yet Soleto has so much more range and character in his cleans and has so much grit and impact in his screams that there's really no competition to be found. Though to be fair, the band were really aided by Moore's vocals at the time, so hey, credit where credit is due.
Finally, as a really nice nostalgic trip for the long time fans out there, there are three bonus songs available. Specifically, they are re-recorded versions of ‘Note To Self’, ‘Ride The Wings Of Pestilence’, and ‘The Latest Plague’ - some of the band's biggest singles from their pre-hiatus days. The remakes also feature the new line-up and not only do they outshine the originals, but they also amplify this album's already top-notch quality. Just compare the new and old versions of 'Note To Self' to see for yourself.
From First To Last could have changed their name, but that wouldn't do their career or legacy any good. They could have gone in a whole different direction, but it's better to stick to your guns and come out swinging with a tight and familiar sound. They could have just decided to throw in the towel and not reform at all, but that would have been the easy way out. With the soaring range and pumping lungs of Periphery's Spencer Sotelo, a great new drummer in the form of Ernie Slenkovich, producer/engineer Taylor Larson on guitar, and with Matt Good and Tyler Richter still at the helm,'Dead Trees' is by far the band's best work yet. With 'Dead Trees', you could go as far as to say that From First To Last have just made the comeback of the fucking year! Well, at least until the new Refused album drops that is (oh god, please let it be good).
2. Straight To The Face
3. H8 Meh
4. Dead Trees
I5. Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No good
6. Back To Hannalei
7. Never In Reverie
10. I Don’t Wanna Live In The Real World
11. Note To Self (Remake)
12. Ride The Wings Of Pestilence (Remake)
13. The Latest Plague (Remake)