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Escape The Fate - Ungrateful (Album Review)

Monday, 13 May 2013 Written by Heather McDaid

The Escape The Fate road hasn't been the smoothest of journeys over the years. Since Craig Mabbitt's arrival to take over vocal command, there's been a lot of change-ups, controversy and animosity to deal with and, in the midst of all that, they created two post-Radke studio albums. But trying to branch out the band past Ronnie's identifiable styling on their debut has divided the masses. It's now that Escape The Fate are set to drop their fourth album 'Ungrateful' - first post Max Green - and settle themselves firmly where they want to be. 

But where exactly is that? Well, judging from 'Ungrateful', it would be firmly on the radio. Abandoning an experimental push, this seems to lean towards a refined sense of the popular elements of metalcore. 'You're Insane' proves an immediate radio hit - the sleek ETF-style intro, the chugging riffs, a mesh of rasping vocals and roars to the verse and Monte's smooth solo work. There's a groove to it that panders to the mainstream, and if there was any doubt, the soaring chorus seals it. 

And this seems to be what they're aiming for - a string of radio hits, devoid of any real push to new ground. There are moments where they appear to cram as many elements into one song as possible, quite like Bullet For My Valentine's best forgotten 'Temper Temper'. The title track is vicious in its opening, yet leaps directly into a soaring chorus before lurching right back into its violent assault. It's too polarised to just leap from one side to the other without ambition. What's more is the chorus may soar and the solos may blaze across the tracks, but it's difficult to decipher most from one another on a first listen - they simply don't stand out of their own accord. 

'Chemical Love' is another radio pleaser - sleek and airy, this track at least offers variety to the typical ETF blend before evolving into much of the same towards the end. 'Pitch Perfect' is another that falls into this category; more stripped back than most, Mabbitt's vocals strain over a lighter background before the tracks goes down a very soft route. Repetitive as many of the harder tracks may be, they at least have some form of punch and scream Escape The Fate, but this seems watered down for the consumption of the intended mainstream. Thankfully, though, Monte and Robert keep the album in touch with the band's musical roots, being the only two founding members remaining. 

'Are you ready, motherfuckers? Are you ready? Let's go', plucked from the swaggering 'One For The Money' is likely to be a lyric roared in a live setting as this track is particularly suited for a show, but the lyrics themselves don't really hold their own across the board. 

'Ungrateful' sits in the middle of the road. It isn't bad - in fact, it possesses much of the groove and swing to the riffs that have made Escape The Fate enjoyable to listen to over the years; but it's not great, and that's the problem. Experimentation is risky at times, yes, especially if you go in all guns blazing, but this feels like a band trying to tailor themselves to a certain market and have watered much of themselves down in the process to be safe. There are some great tunes on there to redeem much of the album, and the lasting original members at least keep the band in touch with their musical roots, but it feels like there's too much potential here, and not enough action.

'Ungrateful' is released today on Eleven Seven Music.


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