May 11, 2015 Future Leaders of the World – Reveal (Album Review)
Hailing out of Buffalo, New York, guitarist/singer Phil Taylor conjured the concept of Future Leaders of the World, aka F.L.O.W., some thirteen years ago. After moving to Los Angeles, Taylor got the attention of Puddle of Mudd’s Mike Flynn, which, in turn, opened the door for Taylor to be able to record a demo under the tutelage of R&B Group Az Yet’s Shawn Rivera and executive producer Allan Fray, which bore a record deal with Epic Records. Returning home to Buffalo, Taylor recruited drummer Carl Messina and bassist Toby Cole, thus completing his band.
With a full lineup, Future Leaders of the World signed with Epic and dropped their first full-length album in 2004 titled LVL IV. With hit singles “Let Me Out“ and “Everyday…,” the band was headed for big things, touring with bands such as Shinedown, Seether, Crossfade, Chevelle, Alter Bridge, Velvet Revolver, Scott Weiland, and Helmet, among others. Sadly, the Summer of 2009 saw the band break up due to Epic dropping their contract, a fact they learned while on tour. Unwilling to give up, later that year, Taylor and company made a return to the scene with the release of Delirium, a three-track EP to whet appetites for 2010’s Bootlegs & B-sides. Now a member of the Pavement Entertainment family, Future Leaders of the World return with their proper full-length follow-up to LVL IV with the highly anticipated Reveal.
With Taylor on vocals, Ian Severson on guitars, Jarred Mosely on bass, and Russell Bullock on drums, Reveal is Future Leaders of the World’s shining moment to let the mainstream known they are alive and kicking. A classic balls to the wall Grunge flavor with a bit of Blues, the occasional Speed Metal drums, and the slightly skewed power ballad accompany Taylor’s raspy, Kurt Cobain/Layne Staley-esque vocals. Opening Reveal is “Live Again,” a surprisingly upbeat piece musically and vocally that tells about someone who sees what they have become and ultimate redemption after seeing someone else’s pain as Taylor sings, “Open my eyes for the very first time…/ I can see myself through the window of your pain/ Come break my heart, so I can live again.” “Intoxicate” is the quintessential mosh pit track with grinding guitars and pumping drum work reminiscent of Seether married to Taylor’s Cobain-ish vocals of tiring of the party life; “Living ‘til intoxicate/Headaches until I can’t see straight/don’t wanna feel this way no more.”
“Sink or Swim” is classic fist-pumping Metal led by a plucky guitar intro that opens up to a full steam ahead riff driven home with measured drums as Taylor’s vocals rise to demand attention, “We have to make a choice before it’s too late/ We die every day that we live.” Bringing on a grungy power ballad is “All in Your Eyes“ with hard-played guitars and double-timed drums to Taylor’s lyrics seeing a friend who’s lived a fast, hard life; “It’s all in your eyes/when you despise who you live with.”
Moving along, “Can’t Let Go” is reminiscent of Alice in Chains with its haunting acoustic intro, and the way Taylor’s voice materializes much like Staley’s did in this story of lingering memories of loss; “Can’t let go of you/chase that ghost.” “The Killing Blow” is a funky track breaking from the previous tracks with a lighter-raising mix of lighter guitar and drum work while Taylor’s vocals have a sentimentality within the rasp of an all or nothing relationship. Then, on “Our Secrets,” Taylor tells the story of how life changes a person from an innocent kid to an introverted adult through regretful wailing guitar riffs. “Mirror” follows gently, musically and vocally, with a guitar solo intro and Taylor’s innocent voice , before breaking into a full, hard, bluesy confessional of self-loathing. Changing the feel up a bit, “Wherever the Wind Blows” is a love song, perhaps about drugs and its effect, in which Grunge marries ’70s Blues Rock twang with vocals that combines Alice in Chains’ rasp with Queen’s Rock Opera in the background through the words, “If it’s time to go, I will leave. Wherever the wind blows…”
Longing for love is perhaps the story of “Best Child“ as the guitar slides along like a child crying silently, “I want to be the very best child.” The sober, sincere tone of Taylor’s words resonates along with some string arrangements, making the song a beautiful piece of work. “Rain” drips love in modern day Old Occitan lyric poetry with modern guitars simulating sitars and Taylor as the modern day troubadour in the tavern, “Feeling your love come down like rain.” Finally closing out Reveal is “Not Forsaken,” an ethereal flavored track of guitars and drum work with Taylor’s vocals of affirmation, “I need to feel your touch/ Show me, know me. Hold my hand, I’m naked. I can be saved, I am not forsaken.”
Future Leaders of the World’s Reveal seems to eschew the satirical social commentary of LVL IV for more literal commentary that shows a maturity of “come with it” set to biting Grunge, funky Blues, and shades of Classic Rock alongside Taylor’s varied lyrical delivery, which he channeled Kurt Cobain, Shaun Morgan, and Layne Staley to near perfection. As they have recently stated on their Twitter feed, “I think one thing we’ve learned in music is that drugs take away the creators of the music we love most… Not worth it!” That statement sums Reveal to a “T.” CrypticRock gives Reveal 5 of 5 stars.