Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas are quite a divisive band. Their signature sound that combines rave electronica with progressive metalcore, autotuned vocals and high pitched screaming is a hard pill to swallow for many, but once one gets over the absurdity of concept there’s no denying that the execution is always top notch. 2012’s All That We Have Now was an amazing sophomore release that cemented them as a cross between J-rock and iwrestledabearonce with more consistency and catchiness. Its successor, Phase 2, is finally upon us, and as it is to be expected from FALILV, it’s batshit crazy, creative and insanely memorable.
While All That We Have Now started with really energetic tracks right from the bat, Phase 2 has more of a ramp up. The intro track sets the scene with keyboards and the band’s characteristic riffing before transitioning into ‘Rave-Up Tonight’, which appears to be on the more, for lack of a better word, rave-y side of FALILV’s wide spectrum. Halfway through it starts to get more progressive and more metal with vocalist/keyboardist Minami’s unique screaming, and the rest of the album is a non-stop ride of craziness from there.
As it is to be expected from FALILV, every song is a surprisingly tactful mashup of conflicting genres. The constant feel-good attitude that persists over the entire album always keeps the pace going fast, and the unexpected switches between styles, speeds and textures in the album ensures that every song is a memorable ride all the way through. While other bands also do crossovers and interludes within songs, few do it as masterfully and with as much understanding of each style as these guys. The very satisfying mix of mellow, upbeat, heavy and crazy that comes together in Phase 2 is definitely masterful. The dance sections make the breakdowns hit harder; the creative riffing makes the soaring choruses cut deeper.
When it comes to the instrumentation, “clean” singer So’s autotuned vocals are probably the biggest issue that most people take with the band’s unique sound. Yes, they are heavily processed and are about 50% of the vocals on the album, with the rest being Minami’s extremely emotive screaming. However, when viewed as an instrument like keyboards, they make a lot more sense. They sound very synthesized and are very melodic. Once this mental switch is flipped, most people can contextualize the music and enjoy it a lot more. The rest of the instrumentation is obviously top notch as well. The synths sit perfectly in the mix, without overpowering the rest of the band. The drums sound great and pack just the right amount of punch, and they are rarely content with being simple effortless beats. The guitars are very clearly audible and crisp. It’s hard to put one’s finger on what makes FALILV’s riffing so distinct, but they definitely have very specific songwriting style that makes their guitar work easily recognizable and memorable. The bass is even more audible than the band’s previous efforts and even carries some sections in certain songs.
Overall, Phase 2 is an extremely solid album that is a perfect continuation of the band’s sound. While there isn’t anything that’s on a next level (or phase) from the band’s previous work, their sound is already so insane that there’s no need. Fans of the band will love this album just as much as they loved all their previous work. FALILV’s surgically adept blend of styles is just as fresh and jaw-droppingly enjoyable as ever, and Phase 2 shows that they still have all their creativity and chops and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas’ Phase 2 gets…