Rocking the digital hardcore scene since 2008, 6-strong unit Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas (or FALILV) are back with their third full album, PHASE 2, featuring opening tracks from various anime and an eleven track total. Released on August 8th, FALILV’s latest offering charts their experiments through alt rock, electronica, and many other genres, with truly explosive results.

Opening with a techno beat and sensationally fast piano, the band asks us, “Are you ready to blast off?” before launching into the first full track, ‘Rave-up Tonight’. The unsurprisingly rave-like energy in the digital elements of the music is interlaced with catchy bass and some very creative guitar, not to mention moments of screamo that contrast the autotuned vocals dominating the rest of the track.

Following swiftly on, ‘Swing It!!’ has an alt-rock edge from more heavily guitar-driven instrumentation, as well as playful choruses and a mixture of 8-bit hyperactivity with a heavy breakdown and middle eight. Mind-blowing energy blasts this track skyward and cements it as one of my recommended tracks for new fans keen to hear what the band can do. For those who like this rock-influenced style, the following ‘Thunderclap’ features a fantastic hard rock instrumental.

FALILV are hardly limited to rock, metal, and digital music genres, though. The charmingly-titled ‘Nail the Shit Down’ starts from a pounding riff and moves into a rap before returning to more screaming, with a particularly tuneless chorus! For the sheer joy of throwing oneself around, this track is a triumph- with their ever-playful and often unexpected breakdowns.

In terms of big ballads, the band isn’t one for tear-jerkers, preferring a mixture of sadness with brutal anger. ‘Rain Inside Your Eyes’ lets the piano take the forefront, leading a generally calmer song featuring a slower, but emotionally charged beat, until a sudden dramatic breakdown reintroduces metal influences briefly, culminating in an oddly combined screamo/melodic final chorus. In the same way, ‘Flutter of the Cherry Blossom’ has a light, airy and electronic feel with a particularly catchy opening, collapsing once again into chaos in its second half, with an 8-bit breakdown and a heavier conclusion.

But to kick everything into overdrive, ‘Virtue and Vice’ spills over completely into heavier genres, with metal-style bridges and a strong reliance on eardrum-busting growls. A surprising piano breakdown erupts into guitar-powered chaos, and with huge leaps from silence to dense sound it becomes increasingly difficult to work out what’s verse and what’s chorus- but perhaps that doesn’t matter. What listeners will definitely get out of this track, if not clarity, is some sort of experiment on just how much genre-switching the brain can cope with. I sign myself up as a willing participant.

However, the prize for the best-titled track, and possibly the maddest, easily goes to ‘Counterattack by the Sesame Sized’. I am slightly at a loss for words at how to describe this one- screaming, more screaming, a little more screaming, singing, silence, more screaming, classical piano, more screaming…it goes on.

Having voyaged through a mass of futuristic sounds mixed with ever-popular hardcore rock, ‘Stay as Who You Are’ is the atmospheric ending to one hell of a rave, from dramatic electronic opening to thrashing verses, and from beautiful choruses to some of the best guitar solos FALILV has to offer. This final track brings together every feeling of the previous tracks and amplifies them, building a sense of tension with a digital breakdown and spine-tingling whispers before the track explodes into an ecstatic, immersive finale.

PHASE 2 is a clear reflection of how far the band has come in six years, although the sometimes excessive use of autotune and synthesisers on the vocals tends to blend different tracks together, leaving us unable to distinguish much between emotions. Listeners might also be a little disappointed that two of the eleven tracks are simply brief pauses from the main track list, despite showing off the instrumental side of the band fairly well.

Without dwelling on those couple of issues though, this album is probably the most fun listening experience that I’ve heard in a while, dropping the listener into silence completely randomly and quickly dumping a mass of sound back into their ears with no time to adjust! Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas will surely only aim higher from here, and I look forward to hearing just how much more they can possibly fit in to four minutes or so of music!

Words by Lauren du Plessis

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