Hitting their tenth anniversary, and releasing their fifth album, post-hardcore success story Escape The Fate are in the position of having to prove themselves all over again. Hate Me (Eleven Seven) saunters in on the back of a mixed response to the bands’ last two releases, the experimental Escape The Fate (Interscope) and 2013’s step in the right direction Ungrateful (Eleven Seven) whilst seeing the band integrate new guitarist “Thrasher” Gruft, TJ Bell move from four to six strings and having to respond to Max Green’s destabilizing return and subsequent second departure.
Yet fans need have no worries, for the shifting sands have left the band on stronger foundations, and as the grains slip away, it is on a sure footing of modern heavy rock they stand. Kicking off with a metalcore-spiced rager, it isn’t long before the growing Linkin Park influence in their sound shines through, with euphoric synths and electronics embellishing more mature, uplifting tracks like ‘Live For Today’ and ‘Alive’.
Not ones to want to dish up a string of repetitive cut and paste numbers, Escape The Fate show they can turn their hand to more emotional, sincere moments, that they can slam and djent, and (despite being a little too close to stealing the guitar shuffle from ‘Beautiful People’) in ‘I Won’t Break’ they can craft an anthem that belongs over a montage of chair shots and stare-downs, building up a WWE pay-per-view.
It’s an nebulous thing to try to define what “better songwriting” is, but Escape The Fate have found the key to it – producing a diverse yet distinctive selection of tunes that do what they set out to do; ‘Breaking Me Down’ tugs the heartstrings and screams radio play, ‘Just A Memory’ inspires fists and voices to raise in union, ‘Les Enfants Terribles’ is dark, twisted, heavy and grooved up and ‘Get Up, Get Out’, with its Sound Of Madness (Atlantic) swagger, is a straight up banger.
It’s no easy thing to have lost several song writers along the way and still come out the other side victorious. Craig Mabbitt’s strongest recorded performance to date helps, the hand of Chester Bennington around his vocal chords wringing out the right hooks and darkened melodies, but it is the contribution of the whole that is the key in maintaining energy, heaviness, and stronger output. Hate Me is the sound of a band pulling out the stops to create not just a return to form, but a refined new standard for them to live up to going into their second decade.
And they’re not even in their 30’s yet…