Friday 17 May 2019

Famous Last Words - Arizona (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Post-Hardcore
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 17 May 2019
Sites: Facebook | Twitter | Wikipedia

OK, I had to review this, given that the EP is called Arizona, even though Famous Last Words ironically appear to not be stopping here on the tour to support it. It's hardly my usual genre, though I've tagged it post-hardcore because it doesn't stay in any one style for long. Wikipedia adds metalcore and symphonic metal to that. I can hear Metal Archives laughing at the mere suggestion that this is metal, but Spirit of Metal list them as screamo.

I should add that they're not from Arizona, hailing instead from Petoskey, MI, which is a heck of a long way away. Why they went for Arizona as their EP title, I have no idea, unless it was to use sun drenched cover art that looks a lot more like Death Valley than anything in this state. There's no song called Arizona or anything like it. The titles follow the usual naming convention for screamo bands.

Runaways, which opens things up, is the quietest song on offer, much closer to the post-hardcore tag than anything else here. Where it comes into play elsewhere is because none of these songs fall into one category. One minute JT is screaming to the teenagers in the front row, the next he's singing in a clean pop voice and, before long, he'll add some effects to sound like a third singer. He isn't my thing but he does this very well. No wonder they have a Wikipedia page.

The band behind him is just as schizophrenic. A lot of the time they're in alternative rock mode, with a controlled beat and a steady bass while Evan Foley's guitar does whatever it's doing at any point in time. He has a lot of effects pedals, I think and, just as JT switches from style to style on the turn of a dime, Foley's guitar finds a different sound on every track. Tyler Myklebust, the band's former rhythm guitarist who's now on bass has all sorts of fun trying to stay with whatever tempo is in play at any point in time, which Cody Paige drives on the drums.

What surprised me most is that they don't play the verses at one speed and then ramp up to scream the chorus before backing down again. They speed up and slow down every time the wind changes direction. Whenever the beat has an idea to go frantic, everyone follows suit for another screamfest but it might last for a minute or just for mere seconds. It's unpredictable, which I appreciated.

This all sounds far too trendy for me (hey, I can't find an official website but every member of the band has his own Instagram page), which surely reflects as much on me as it does on Famous Last Words, but the band do seem very capable. I liked all the variety but don't have the background in these styles to point out comparisons. The only one that came up for me was an Emilie Autumn chorus in Scream, but frankly I'd be surprised if that's where they got the idea from. I'm sure the target audience will know what the band sound like (or don't).

What's most telling is that I still have no idea why this is called Arizona. And I still have no idea where that symphonic metal tag finds relevance.

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