Good, but confused and disappointing at the same time
Los Angeles (California, U.S.) based post-hardcore outfit From First to Last haven’t exactly had an easy rise in their eight years of existence, with the group having undergone a multitude of line-up changes, a different label for every one of their studio releases to date, and a radical shift in sound with every new release. And staying true to form, Throne to the Wolves, the band’s fourth full-length release, once again represents another departure from where the group last left listeners in 2008.
On the band’s debut effort for Rise Records (after splitting with Suretone Records in 2009), the four piece act (who now comprise vocalist/rhythm guitarist/keyboardist/programmer Matt Good, new lead guitarist/backing vocalist Blake Steiner, bassist/backing vocalist Matt Manning and drummer Derek Bloom) have managed to produce another effort that’s sure to polarise fans. Influenced in part by Bloom’s solo project The Color of Violence (who also comprised of From First to Last guitarist/backup vocalist Travis Richter), Throne to the Wolves sees the band returning to heavier and more hardcore sounding territory, while maintaining the melodic aspects of their sound heard on their self-titled effort. And while the change of direction may sound like a move in the right direction, From First to Last don’t quite make the transition in direction all that smooth or comfortable enough to make the album sound like the long awaited return many would no doubt be hoping for.
The opening track Cashing Out is definitely one of the album’s stand out efforts with the band showcasing a slightly heavier sound within the varied guitar sounds and riffs, without forsaking their melodic tendencies in the choruses and the rather unexpected ‘Woo’s’ that pop up midway through the song. Unfortunately, while the opener works well, the heavy handed Chyeaaaaa!, which is virtually tacked on at the tail end of Cashing Out, seems too directionless and there for the sake of throwing listeners off.
The energetic Elvis Said Ambition is a Dream with a V8 Engine is another strong effort on the album with its strong hooks and huge injection of meaty guitar sounds, while the more rock orientated Grits and unusual approach of The He Man Woman Haters Club are further examples of where the band’s song writing stands out.
The celebrity damning Going Lohan and I’ll Inoculate the World with the Virus of My Disillusionment are O.K., but tracks such as You Me and the Significant Other and MO just don’t stand out enough amongst the real gems on the album.
The album does close on a rather strange note with the auto-tune driven duo of A Soft War and Now That You’re Gone. Although they sound unlike what you would expect from From First to Last, they do stand out in their own right, and help tilt the scales a little more towards consistency rather than leaning entirely towards a complete disaster.
I was a big fan of From First to Last’s self-titled release, and I was looking forward to seeing what the band would come up with next. And while Throne to the Wolves does have its moments, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the results.
Since the album’s release, the band has decided to take an indefinite hiatus. I can only hope that they will one day return, and when they do, they’ll give us something a little more focussed and stronger sounding. Throne to the Wolves is an O.K. release, but far from a fitting epitaph for From First to Last.
(Rise Records Inc./Shock Entertainment)