I don’t trust Victory Records.
There, I said it! It’s out of the way. Now, that bias aside, I always give the label’s bands a try. Who the fuck knows, maybe they’ve struck gold this time around, maybe this band is actually more like Victory’s scarce but note-worthy acts (Snapcase, Comeback Kid, Streetlight Manifesto, Moros Eros), maybe, just maybe it won’t be the same repetitive metalcore that Victory’s been churning out and repacking for well over five years now. Okay, so the bias might always be there, but then that’s pretty much just prompting fate or something to show up and shake a finger or two at me isn’t it? I mean, how dumb would I look if I actually missed a fantastic band simply based on the label that distributes it? So here I am giving Farewell to Freeway the benefit of the doubt; I got past their emorgasmic cover art and their unfortunate “For Fans Of” section and honestly the only conclusion I could come to is that if there’s any kind of book you should judge by it’s cover apart from erotica then “Filthy Habits” is definitely that kind of book, er, album.
Farewell To Freeway actually start the album off with a banger (and possibly the only redeemable track on the album) “Liquor? I Don’t Even Know ‘Er” which opens things up with a pounding rhythm section and a semi-interesting guitar lead. The combination is actually so effective that I can ignore the obvious double pedal inclusion and I can even excuse the nearly cringe-worthy cookie cutter screams. Fuck, even the mid song melodic vocal delivery can be forgiven. It’s everything you’d want to from well written metalcore; driving, heavy, and absolutely head bang worthy. It’s formula, sure, but it satisfies all the guilty pleasures I get from this genre. If Farewell to Freeway were From Autumn To Ashes then “Liquor?…” would be their “After-dinner Payback.” Now, even if the whole album was comprised of songs like this one it wouldn’t merit anything higher than a 3. Farewell To Freeway aren’t pushing any boundaries, they’re not trying to separate themselves from the metalcore world, in fact, they couldn’t be more the embodiment of everything the genre is. But at least had the album had the energy that first song had, hell, it’d be passable. Sadly, it’s all downhill from here for “Filthy Habits.” The album is littered with cliches and over used stylings. There isn’t a song on this album that doesn’t have too much double pedal, nor a song that doesn’t eventually break down, or use a blast beat, or breaks down again. I mean, you know it’s a bad thing when the only redeemable song in your album aside from your single is a slow building instrumental track (“Blood & Tissue”). The production leaves much to be desired as well, watering down everything to a pristine and clean, but ultimately undesirable, mess. It’s all pretty lifeless, really, with the only exception being that the vocalist who actually sings doesn’t have a terrible range (as is the case with most bands who try to do the Alexisonfire thing, when will they learn they’re NOT Dallas Green!?).
Okay, maybe I am being too harsh, on some positives it’s evident that these guys are all pretty talented individuals. As a cohesive force they actually create a tight ensemble, playing off each other’s parts fluidly and unlike most metalcore these days, their sense of melody isn’t terrible. All the songs have a very nice ebb and flow to them, and their inclusion of more atmospheric and melodic elements doesn’t come curveballing out of nowhere. In short, it works. As an album it all works. It’s a shame that the genre these dudes have tapped in to had it’s well dried a long, long time ago.
There was a time in my years as a music reviewer when I truly believed that metalcore was just a passing trend, that it would eventually pass and make way for another terrible genre to fill it’s shoes. But those genres came and went, yet metalcore somehow stood the test of time. I don’t think this would be as terrible as it sounds if the metalcore now didn’t sound like the metalcore from five years ago. The formula hasn’t changed, in fact, it has only reinstated itself again and again through every release by every new band claiming to be the next “heavy.” Farewell To Freeway are just another drop in the ocean, and probably won’t have much to offer the genre nor the listener who isn’t already a fan of the genre or the band.
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