Album review: Escape The Fate – Chemical Warfare
Escape The Fate’s seventh album Chemical Warfare is the most experimental and pop-leaning release they’ve ever put out. And while this is surprising, it’s not actually too far off from their usual M.O. That’s always a challenge for a band at this stage in their career – evolving their sound without changing it so much that it alienates fans – and for the most part, Escape The Fate have struck the right balance here. While they’ve dialled down the heaviness a few notches, they’ve kept the huge hooks and sweeping melodies firmly in place.
Chemical Warfare has more than its fair share of standout tracks, complete with larger-than-life choruses and electrifying guitar work, as demonstrated on opener Lightning Strike. Single Not My Problem, which features Travis Barker, is earnest and punchy, with a melody primed for belting along to, while Hand Grenade comes in fast and hard with its crunching guitars and rapid-fire riffs.
The album has its heavy moments, too. Demons not only features a blazing guitar solo, but also has an all-out screamed breakdown. But the whole thing doesn’t maintain the same level of intensity. There are times on Chemical Warfare where it feels like Escape the Fate are holding back, especially on Ashes and Invincible, which end up falling a little flat.
The pop influence shines through on songs like Invincible, which features violinist Lindsey Stirling. Unbreakable, meanwhile, is a pop song through and through, with its catchy chorus and pulsing synths, an unexpected track that ultimately works. But then there are points where the experimentation goes too far, like on Burn the Bridges and Erase You. Overall, though, Chemical Warfare is definitely a step forward and a step up (Walk On is legions beyond their older ballads). Not only is the album unapologetically poppy, when they get it right, it’s also fearlessly fun.
For Fans Of: Asking Alexandria, The Used, The Word Alive
Chemical Warfare is released on April 16 via Better Noise.