letlive. - Fake History (Re-release)
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: April 12, 2011
I normally have a rule of thumb as a user reviewer not to review albums that have been already reviewed (I formally apologize for the redundancy). If someone has taken their time to analyze and put forward their opinion on an album, why would anyone want mine? Where am I getting at with this? letlive. made me break that rule. As I looked back on all the music that had impacted me during 2011, the re-release of the Los Angeles quintet’s third full length, Fake History, was my most played. Look other than my review, and you’ll find almost nothing but cheer and praise for this work of art, and such accolade is very much warranted. In a musical era that is soaked and stained with breakdown laden, over autotuned, tightly edited, completely digitalized carbon copied bands, letlive. is the freshest breath of air you could take into your lungs. Rather than being drawn into the same generic black hole many of their contemporary artists fall into, letlive. embody a passionate and charismatic energy that is exactly what hardcore music needs.
Immediately shot into the rallying “Le Prologue,” you are brought into a rousing chant as provided by the dynamic Jason Butler. Already, it’s clear that the band has developed a tighter sound and perform as a stronger syndicate as they still remain unyielding in their aggressive delivery. Suddenly, “The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion” bursts forth as the momentum grows and advances in a lively fashion. Butler’s wide vocal presentation pushes forward with a fresh, full, and pure rhythm that sounds unpolished in the best way possible. A beautifully original chorus sweeps over the song, followed by one last screamed line by Butler before the song ends and a thick drum riff takes over, relentless introducing “Renegade ‘86” and leaving little time for the listener to recuperate from the organic and edgy introduction to Fake History. Piercing with the shrill cry of Butler and high gain guitars, the first verse sweeps in, like gusts of winds sucker punching you. The forceful and moving drum riff sustains the incredible energy that is held within the song, as it leads to a breakdown of sorts. But don’t let that statement scare you: letlive. doesn’t take the easy way out or follow the trend of tedious, open note chugging. No, the brawny, sliding riffs continue and serve as a massive build up rather than discontinuing the rhythmic flow of the song.
This unprocessed attitude shines brightly in the next few tracks. Throughout “Enemies [Enemigos]” and “Casino Columbus,” Anthony Rivera’s systematic and filling drum lines dominate and command guitarists Jean Nascimento and Jeff Sahyoun into the sporadic and vibrant riffs that pulsate, until the unexpected distanced clapping reprieve in the former and the jittery, broken rant by Butler in the latter. Ryan Johnson’s gritty bass line underlie both songs between the outstanding choruses, and provide a technical structuring that is unseen and typically inaudible in many heavier bands today. One of the album’s greatest stand out comes in the form of “Muther” which emits a blistering emotionality as Butler and guest vocalist Chelsea Warlick tag between soft, falsetto harmonies to a vulnerable, wounded vocal delivery that conveys the song’s emotion and complement’s its flexibly perceived subject matter (in this case, infidelity) in a way that is subjectively mature and metaphorical, a feat unmatched by any song in recent memory. The track’s conclusion begs to be sung along and provides a small time to take in the dynamicity of the preceding moments, just in time for a return to form. “Homeless Jazz,” too, does well to progress the album as whole, as it maintains the unrelenting approach while changing song structure and style of playing, with abrupt, vulgar interruptions of Butler and a bouncier guitar line reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine.
The next set of songs on Fake History, deliver a harder, heavier vibe, again without resorting to overdone, tiring breakdowns, but instead by providing sweltering double kick drums and tremolo-picked guitar loaded with squeaks and squeals, contributing to the high energy. Case in point, “We, The Pros of Cons” contains the fastest drum and guitar sequences, aiding in the frank communication of the political and societal implications of ignorance, overindulgence, and conspicuous consumption. This lyrical transcendence grows through the albums as simple figurative items, such as “diamonds” and “foreign cars,” that the listeners are familiar with, become symbols in a tightly intertwined social psychological commentary, adding a priceless value to the album that is completely absent in letlive.’s peers. “H. Ledger” and “Over Being Under” follow suit in the sense that they too have a profundity weaved securely within their unremitting verses and superb choruses, delivering lessons in collective preconceptions, disillusionment, and the like rather than stringing together meaningless, catchy words. Hence, the album becomes more than just fresh music, but instead caters to the inquisitive mind, providing much food for thought.
Fake History’s true magnum opus blends all of these facets and amplifies them to a great extent. “Day 54” begins with an apt fragility, sung in a hushed manner, though intensifying with the beat of each kick. Each verse stems off of the last, increasing in power and volume, and inversely heightens with an unclean chorus, shifting into the passionate screams of Butler who damns “drugs” and “straight edge,” signifying polarizing lifestyles as converse perceptions of morality or an extremism that should be shunned. The musical and lyrical qualities peak in a cumulative way that perfectly concludes the standard album. With the re-release though, letlive. still have much to offer. “Hollywood, And She Did” as well as “This Mime [A Sex Symbol]” provide further proof of the letlive. flair as the vocal deliveries remain just as pleasantly varied, the choruses soar just as high, the guitars stay just as gritty and tonal, and the bass churns fluidly. “Lemon Party,” on the contrary, has a more accessible sound, conveying a more festive resonance, complete with groovy guitar lines, less aggressive vocals, foot tapping bass rhythms and a luminous surprise past the short reprieve.
It is obvious that letlive. fully exuberate style and personality throughout Fake History. The band, track after track, preserve a bold persona while diversifying instrumental and overall song structure, thus stressing the individuality of every track and ingenuity of the album as a whole. The lyrical aspect of the album, though simple at times on the surface, makes room for various interpretation without being overly ambiguous, thus creating a magnetism that little other musical acts accomplish. Letlive. have set out not to emulate the formulaic, generic sound that is so rampant in the heavy music scene, but instead draw from those who have been game changers in the past while incorporating modernity and defining what a meaningful, energetic post-hardcore album should sound like in the present. Ladies and gentlemen, Fake History is a game changer. With 2012 paving the way for more tour dates and a forthcoming album, letlive. have made a lasting and worthwhile impression with the masterpiece that is Fake History, whether it be in a live or studio setting. Expect nothing but the best from the best. Long live letlive..
Guys, I said influenced by, meaning there are instances that sound reminiscent, like the above user states, passively sound like them. I am fully aware that they do not sound like Glassjaw 2.0. I love this band and I recognize their strong originality which is why I chose to review this.
Yeah the Rosa Parks "Back of the bus" part was so Zach De la Rocha.....and I loved every part of it. Not to mention Jason quotes Biggie in one of the tracks. Diggin' this album so much, just wish I could have found them sooner. Oh well, think they are recording a new album right now. Great review!