Ronnie Radke, frontman of Falling In Reverse and the self-dubbed “king of the music scene” – more on that in a bit – has finally released his first album since being released from prison. Well, technically speaking FIR does have members other than Radke but… they don’t really matter. I’m not trying to be overtly harsh but, in all honesty, the band’s debut, The Drug In Me Is You, is a one-way street down Radke Hollow.
I get it. Really, I do. When Radke got his ass thrown into jail, his former bandmates/friends in Escape The Fate took turns to defecate on his reputation, leaving their former singer and front-man to rot. Meanwhile, they carried on writing and touring with the downright rancid Craig Mabbit, who also started to take potshots at Radke. Now, it’s time for the man himself, Mr Radke, to have his say about the whole saga and the people involved; which he does, over and over AND over again.
The album reeks of Radke’s relentless narcissism right from the get-go, though I believe a large chunk of this particular ego-trip is directed towards his foes. Opening track “Raised by Wolves” is as good as the album gets – lyrically and musically – as the entire album treads the well-worn path of post-hardcore purgatory.
“Tragic Magic” makes use of some of the most atrociously cheesy lyrics anyone will hear this year, and is a prime contender for worst song of the year. If the crappy keyboards in the intro aren’t bad enough, just wait ‘til you hear the lyrics:
“Magically/ I turned tragedy/ Into melodies/ Sold for catchy beats/ It comes so naturally/ So smooth and casually/ That’s why they call me king/ Of the music scene”
If that weren’t bad enough, Radke tops it off with a healthy dose of “lalalas”; how the man sings the song with a straight face, I’ll never know. The best song on the album – and that isn’t saying much – goes to intentionally poppy (kids will eat this up) “The Drug In Me Is You” by default, seeing as it ticks all of the “scene music” boxes without being completely abhorrent. It has a catchy chorus, the obligatory guitar solo and of course, Ronnie Radke.
“Pick Up The Phone” is aimed at casual listeners, while both “Caught Like a Fly” and “Good Girls, Bad Guys” come close to sounding like a circus parody of the scene. The album tails off badly after less than a third of it has been spun, as most of the tracks simply meld into each other. The guitar chugs and power chords, of which there are many, display the depth, or lack thereof of the band’s creativity.
The only area where the album shines is when Radke sings, with his voice being clearer than ever, complementing every song well. While his lyrical ability is questionable, I doubt anyone has ever doubted his natural ability as a front man and singer. For all of his pride, he remains a highly charismatic entertainer.
The sum of Raised by the Wolves parts leave much to be desired – from the shambolic lyrics, to the cookie-cutter musicianship and just plain lameness – and my advice is that for anyone who’s expecting DIYLF pt II or anything as catchy as old ETF, you best look elsewhere. FIR have formed in the wake of a terrible divide between former friends and in that split, it seems both bands have lost much of what made them fun for many and a guilty pleasure for even more: catchy hooks and decent music.
It’s sad to say then, that FIR have tried to put themselves on a pedestal above ETF, but have succeeded only in lurching deeper into the doldrums of forgettable bands.