Artist: Fame On Fire
Album: Welcome to the Chaos
Label: Hopeless Records
Fame On Fire Unleash Weird & Wild Sophomore Album, Welcome to the Chaos
Chaos – for approximately two years, the world has fallen into it with the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic. It put a halt on the live music scene, as well as many bands’ careers as a whole due to not being able to endure remote sessions. However, a much larger problem that was created was that of depression. After all, music is an art form that is created as a means of therapy and not being able to share that art with fans, creates a sense of hopelessness within the human psyche. This has resulted in a lot of the art that survived during this time having much darker, somber overtones than what, perhaps, was initially planned. While live music has resumed, as have full release schedules for bands, the effects of the pandemic are not something that will be easily forgotten/escaped. For FL’s Fame On Fire and vocalist Bryan Kuznitz, these demons have been embraced and put into the spotlight in the form of the material on their sophomore album, aptly-titled Welcome to the Chaos. No time wasted, the band has toured in support of bands like Ice Nine Kills and Starset and has secured full rotation on SiriusXM‘s Octane radio to kick off the year and have been previewing new songs from the effort, to great success and critical acclaim. While the songs for this album started to take shape prior to the release of 2020’s LEVELS, they have a more important and impactful meaning being released in a time rife with sadness and solidarity. Already having become well-known for their unique take on the rock genre, the momentum has only just begun to swing positively for these guys.
Close your eyes and picture the following scene: You open the gate to an abandoned circus ground, complete with run-down sideshow attractions and a massive big top tent that catches your eye. There’s a glow within but your heart pounds and your breathing becomes heavy and labored as you ponder stepping forward. On cue, you begin to hear creepy children’s laughter in the distance and lights begin to flicker on the various attractions. Distorted and eerie music comes from the entrance to the big top and your mind begins to race… but you can’t look away and it’s too late to run. Suddenly, the entrance is filled with the shadow of a figure who beckons you inside as chunky guitars begin to intermingle with the eerie soundtrack within. As you begin to step inside, your vision goes black and the guitars fade. As you come to, a full band kicks in and you see the ring master, complete with what (appears to be) face paint and a top hat but something is off about him. He utters four words that chill you to the bone but somehow, you feel at home… “Welcome to the Chaos.” A world of misfits, outcasts and lonely hearts who have made this hell their home. There is a strange feeling of familiarity within the gaze of the strangers who have made themselves known and you’re locked in for the ride. This is the scene I have always pictured as the album kicks into the title track, featuring the master of metalcore macabre himself, Spencer Charnas (Ice Nine Kills.) Vocalist Bryan Kuznitz‘s unique rasp and tenor make itself heard, before they crescendo into a darker tone when reaching the pre-chorus before soaring into the first chorus. The overall theme of the album is apparent within the first minute of this track… you’re not alone, no matter how hopeless you feel. This track dives deep into feelings of insanity, which are expertly explored by the duet created between Kuznitz and Charnas, in both tone and lyrics. Rather than run from it, though, the band embraces it in full force.
From the release of the first single, “Plastic Heart,” it was apparent that there was something different about these songs. While relationships gone wrong have not been a new topic for the band, the approach to both the production and delivery of this song create an atmosphere that encapsulates the feelings of hopelessness that come with going through it. The band has prided themselves on creating their music, from start to finish, on their own but for three tracks in particular, they tried something out of the box. While not the only stand-out tracks on the release, “Plastic Heart,” “Lost in Doubt,” and “Ketamine” were co-produced with Brian Howes (Halestorm, Skillet, Daughtry) do benefit greatly from this partnership. This track has spent countless hours in rotation at Octane, as well as racking up over 1 million views on the accompanying music video. The video depicts a woman who has a doll who is oddly reminiscent of Kuznitz, as the scene plays between his life in her doll house and an explosive, full-band performance coupled with flashing lights. A bass-heavy, hip-hop style vocal kicks off the first verse of the track before beginning to delve into the diversity that they create with their art. While the focal point is the obnoxiously catchy chorus, one can’t deny the intensity and aggression that Kuznitz displays throughout.
While there are clear moments in which each member of the band shine through, there are few moments on the album that display it better than “Cut Throat,” which the band debuted on their tour with Ice Nine Kills. While the track, in itself, is intense and chaotic, the listener will find themselves honing into the rhythm section as bassist Paul Spirou leads the charge. Kuznitz goes from a softer, more subtle vocal to outright insanity with the drop of a hat. Guitarist Blake Saul makes himself heard with pulse-pounding riffs, throughout the track, proving you don’t need to be flashy to be effective. Meanwhile, drummer Alex Roman‘s skills create a tightly-packed yet wildly effective space within the atmosphere of this particular song. Hip-hop artist Kody Lavigne comes in on the second verse of “Emo Shit” which is another track that explores toxicity within a relationship. Catchy, infectious and downright fun this track stands out in the odd nature of the mixture of genres, playing off the melancholy nature of the lyrics. “Lost in Doubt,” the second single released for this album, stands out with some of the most poignant lyrics on the release. Gaslighting, substance abuse and alcoholism are all subjects explored within the short run-time of this track. As the album comes to a close within the last three tracks, “Back Then,” “Jaded,” and “Dead or Alive” begin to break free from the subject of co-dependency which creates a good portion of the subject matter throughout. These are tracks where there is a realization of one being better off without the toxicity and moving forward. “Dead or Alive” explores the idea of “living your best life” and not worrying about the past, focusing on the present and the future. Each of these tracks has a different vibe, in terms of musicality, but create the most cohesive experience, in terms of lyrical content flowing into one another. “Back Then” is one of those in-between tracks that teeters between being aggressive, while maintaining a great deal of melody. “Jaded” has a lot more of an aggressive feel to it, with more screaming and angst-ridden vocal delivery. Finally, “Dead or Alive” explores many different facets of the band’s sound, creating an effective, atmospheric and intense closing track.
Overall, Welcome to the Chaos, is the intensity and fun that Fame On Fire have been known for, taken to a new level. Not only does it continue to expose and create vulnerability within Kuznitz’s lyrics, it finds a center as their most relatable material to date, in a time where relatability is sorely needed. It’s a reminder to the listener that, no matter what they’re going through, that they are not alone. Everyone has their demons, everyone has their vices. Fame on Fire is no stranger to adversity, having initially being labeled as a cover band but they have beaten the odds and broken free from those chains. Now, they stand primed and ready to cement their place as the next big thing in rock music. Welcome to the Chaos is a deep dive into insanity, heartbreak and solitude but remains hopeful through it’s message. Take a step through the gate and find yourself immersed in the soundscape that has been created, as Welcome to the Chaos arrives July 22nd via Hopeless Records. Piqued your interest? You can find all relevant links below, as well as the videos for “Cut Throat,” “Welcome to the Chaos,” “Lost in Doubt” and “Plastic Heart.” Catch Fame on Fire this Fall as they open for ONE OK Rock!
Sept. 19 – Austin, Texas @ Emo’s
Sept. 20 – Houston, Texas @ House of Blues
Sept. 21 – Dallas, Texas @ House of Blues
Sept. 23 – Orlando, Fla. @ House of Blues
Sept. 24 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Tabernacle *
Sept. 25 – Charlotte, N.C. @ The Underground
Sept. 27 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Franklin Music Hall
Sept. 28 – Silver Spring, Md. @ The Fillmore
Sept. 30 – New York, N.Y. @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Oct. 01 – Boston, Mass. @ House of Blues
Oct. 02 – Montreal, Quebec @ Club Soda
Oct. 04 – Toronto, Ontario @ Rebel
Oct. 05 – Detroit, Mich. @ Saint Andrews Hall *
Oct. 07 – Cleveland, Ohio @ House of Blues
Oct. 08 – Chicago, Ill. @ Concord Music Hall
Oct. 09 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ The Fillmore
Oct. 11 – Denver, Colo. @ Ogden Theatre
Oct. 12 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ The Complex
Oct. 14 – Portland, Ore. @ Roseland Theater
Oct. 15 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ Harbour Event Centre
Oct. 16 – Seattle, Wash. @ Showbox SoDo
Oct. 19 – Oakland, Calif. @ Fox Theater
Oct. 20 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Hollywood Palladium
* No Fame on Fire