May 14, 2019 Famous Last Words – Arizona (EP Review)
Much like a phoenix arising from the ashes, Famous Last Words has suffered a tumultuous past few years in order to return. However, on Friday, May 17th, 2019, they are poised to triumphantly deliver their new Arizona EP via SBG Records.
Formed in Michigan in 2010, Metalcore outfit Famous Last Words would not release their debut album, the concept record Two-Faced Charade, until 2013. Following this up with two more albums — 2014’s Council of the Dead and 2016’s The Incubus — over the next three years, the band certainly kept themselves busy recording and touring. In fact, throughout the years their dedication to life on the road has led them to share stages with the likes of Hawthorne Heights, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Ice Nine Kills, Crown the Empire, Farewell, My Love, Palisades, and many, many more.
Alas, Famous Last Words — Vocalist JT Tollas, Guitarist Evan Foley, Bassist Tyler Myklebust, and Drummer Cody Paige — have barely survived the past three years. While previous records had centered around different fictitious characters, the band’s forthcoming EP turns the spotlight on themselves to tell their own stories. Produced by From First To Last’s Matt Good (Asking Alexandria, Memphis May Fire), the 5-song collection digs deep to author the band’s most personal offering to date.
Frontman Tollas explains: “Arizona is the result of us, as a band, living through and emerging from a really dark place. At the end of 2017, we weren’t sure what the future of Famous Last Words looked like. Or if there even was a future. We decided to channel all of that emotion and anger into the music you hear on this EP. The decision to abandon the concept format for this project was no accident. We had pain, anger, and emotion that we wanted our fans to understand were not anchored around a fictional character. These songs tell the stories of the things we were dealing with.”
The Arizona EP opens to “Runaways” where a poetic spoken word segues into a languid verse, before ultimately exploding into a blessthefall (“Wishful Sinking”) worthy sonic barrage. Which is perfectly fitting as the band are billed as being for fans of blessthefall, Ice Nine Kills, and Asking Alexandria, a fairly apropos claim. An admission that we can all get lost along the way, this flows perfectly into the throttling bass-lines of “The Game.” A vicious inferno that serves as a reminder to never give up, with some truly delicious growls, this is the heaviest side of Famous Last Words as they explore the personal issues inherent in being touring musicians.
“Broken Glass” opens to atmospheric, cinematic synths that lead the band into a catchy yet tormented rocker with a multi-layered wall of impressive sound. Initially a frenetic maelstrom, “Scream” explodes and then throws a curveball, twisting into fully melodic, sing-along choruses that will have you dancing in your seat. Then, all too soon, they end with “No Walls.” Darkly ominous in sound at its outset, the track builds into a truly infectious anthem for the tormented, questioning the meaning of life.
For Famous Last Words’ fans, the Arizona EP is a whetting of the appetite for further material from the talented band and a promise that they have successfully weathered the recent storm. For anyone just discovering the band, it is the perfect representation of a group who blend delicious melodies, vicious breakdowns, and everything in between to craft a sonic experience that is as heavy as it is infectious.
Suffering all too often breeds some of the greatest art. Poetic in their approach to pain, intelligent in their self-questioning, Famous Last Words perfectly present the dichotomies inherent in our human struggle, as well as in their own personal travails, on the Arizona EP. Dark and light, catchy and vicious, Cryptic Rock gives Famous Last Word’s Arizona EP 4 of 5 stars.
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