Change is an inevitability in this world. Whether you want it, you need it or it comes naturally, we all go through it. This is true, especially, for bands. For Petoskey’s Famous Last Words, they’ve had to do a lot of changing over their years as a band. Having gone through several line-up changes since their inception, this is the year I believe that they’ve found the dream team, after adding in ex-Not Tonight Josephine guitarist Evan Foley. After announcing their departure from InVogue Records, having released an EP and 2 full-length albums through the label, they immediately turned to fans to get a feel for what label they should go after next. For many, the choice was clear, Shawn Milke had recently launched Revival Recordings and Famous Last Words’ insane ability to create a captivating story through their music, while adhering to a deep and powerful message was something that they had down to a science. Before jumping the gun, though, they got to work on what they wanted to be their best album to date… something that would really have fans talking. To tide fans over after the announcement of signing to Revival, they released an acoustic version of a track called “I’ll Be Home Soon” to go along with the label’s first compilation, It’s All Acoustic. After getting together a massive release tour, they finally announced that their long-anticipated 3rd studio album would be titled The Incubus and would be out on September 30th. The album’s concept follows a woman by the name of Christine, deals with themes of sexual/domestic abuse and is set in the 1950’s. Suffice it to say that this concept, alone, brought me to my knees after hearing the album but we’ll leave those surprises for later.
Our first taste of this Taylor Larson-produced masterpiece, “Pretty In Porcelain” had a video released for it in July and showed an entirely new side of the band. As previously reported in interviews with Tollas, Famous Last Words changed up their writing method for The Incubus and this change is immediately apparent. While they’ve become known for their ability to bring a story to life, musically, the theatrical elements of their music have become another monster entirely. Their ability to write a catchy, poppy hook is something that you’ve got to admire. Even as dark as the track’s subject matter is, you can’t help but sing along. Even if you aren’t listening to the lyrics, you’ll find yourself feeling every emotion that Tollas intended for you to. The heavier aspects are still there but they’re more rooted in emotion, than pure musical aggression. Oh and if you thought that his fast-screamed passages were impressive before… you haven’t heard anything yet.
From the album’s opening (featuring an organ, snapping fingers and Tollas’ declaration of “Let’s set the scene!) to the triumphant, slower-paced ending of “Tear Me Apart,” this album sets the bar high for anything that follows. Not only do the tracks themselves build up, but there’s an incredible build-up throughout the album as a whole. As the story progresses, you can feel the levels of terror, despair and overall hopelessness that Christine feels both through the lyrics and the music. A number of musical directions are explored throughout, including straight-up metal, their traditional post-hardcore and the album’s overall pop-punk vibe. From the humming bass-lines provided by Mathew Bell, the pounding and explosive drum beats provided by Craig Simons, the simplistic, yet somehow still technical riffs of Foley and Tyler Myklebust and Tollas’ incredible abilities as a vocalist, each talent is displayed loudly and proudly. The brotherhood within this band is something to be envied, in a day where dollar signs influence so much tension. Tollas has explored and crossed every boundary that he has as a vocalist, bringing the listener his best performance to date, both with his clean and screamed vocals.
The Incubus is designed to be a catalyst to propel a very serious, very real issue that this world is plagued with, in a very direct manner. Therefore, due to the album’s subject matter and the band’s refusal to sugarcoat anything, this album is anything but for the faint of heart. If you’ve ever been a fan of Famous Last Words, though, you’ll already know that they only attack the toughest subjects. Together with the help of 4 guest vocalists, an incredible production team, new label and new management, this band has managed to create an album that is timeless, epic and far-beyond much of what you’ll hear in their genre these days, much less any other genre. The replay value on this album sits at a solid 10/10, allowing the listener to discover something new to love with each listen. It’s unclear if the world is ready for such an intense, emotionally-draining and monumental album… but the time for worrying about that has ceased, because The Incubus is coming September 30th, via Revival Recordings. Be sure to pick up your copy and check out the video for “Pretty In Porcelain,” as well as the lyric video for “The Judged” below! They’ll be hitting the road with Alesana on their “Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax” tour, along with Oh, Sleeper, Two O’Clock Courage and newly-announced labelmates Artwork starting September 29th and tickets are going FAST so check out the flyer and get yours now!
“Pretty In Porcelain” (Official Music Video)
“The Judged” (Official Lyric Video)
Famous Last Words is:
JT Tollas – Vocals
Tyler Myklebust – Guitar
Evan Foley – Guitar
Mathew Bell – Bass
Craig Simons – Drums