By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
[Better Noise; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Four Letter Word”, “I Will Make It Up to You”, “Digging My Own Grave”
Post-hardcore has grown to become an ambiguous umbrella term for associating with classic acts like Thrice, but also with more experimental, jazzy hybrids like Dance Gavin Dance and straight-up poppy bands like Pierce the Veil; it’s almost as if there are sub-genres within a sub-genre. These various styles, nevertheless, capture a certain era in the evolution of post-hardcore, relative to time as they come and go.
Escape the Fate’s latest, I Am Human, is lost and stuck in between multiple timelines of post-hardcore, if not stagnant in musical growth. As an older band that peaked a decade ago, Escape the Fate has definitely polished and established their identity and sound over years of line-up changes, overlooked album releases and burying the hatchet with Ronnie Radke. Instead of building off their established sound, however, the band tends to shy away from stepping out of their circle, which is revealed in I Am Human.
I Am Human is not a poor record, but it’s not exactly something to write home about. The majority of the record is based on a sorrowful heartbreak per usual. The simple, clichéd lyrics get old fast, which ultimately downplays their music by the first half of the record. From time to time, the album feels like it lacks a clear focus due to its halfhearted attempts of reinventing the wheel or creating something fresh but not completely doing so.
But if there’s one thing Escape the Fate gets right, it’s the catchiness. Some tracks have a very distinct chorus that shows great use of melody to its advantage (“Broken Heart”, “Resistance”). “I Will Make It Up to You” is a fun, bubbly power pop track that bursts with relentless energy, while “Four Letter Word” could be a hit single off the band’s sophomore album, This War is Ours, even if the hook blatantly rips off Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield”.
“Digging My Own Grave” is arguably the best track on the album; it embodies a more diverse structure with more elaborate elements of exposition, which effectively bridges the heavy and the melodic together. Additionally, the song showcases intense double bass drumming as well as breathtaking guitar solos that steal the spotlight (guitar has always been Escape the Fate’s strengths).
There are several things that Escape the Fate excels as a band and in I Am Human, but a lot of it has already been said and done. That is not to disregard their holistic talent and potential, but the mediocrity in I Am Human shows that they are playing it safe, replicating what worked in the past rather than exploring new avenues. In a scene that is often overflowed with sound-alikes and polluted with run-of-the-mill bands, I Am Human doesn’t pave the path to push the genre or the band itself.