The album art for Falling In Reverse’s new and fifth full-length, “Coming Home”, is a decidedly minimalistic zoomed-in portrait of a space helmet. Are the quirky Nevada-based pop-punk/whatever other genre they fancy-core outfit gunning for the prog genre?
Not quite. Even though these songs aren’t about space, they’ll make you think of its vast expanses with choruses that reach (and often exceed) the stars and a newfound love for atmosphere. While Ronnie Radke and co. aren’t rewriting the rock rulebook with this record, they have good taste in which tropes to utilize to make monumental songs.
“Coming Home” shows a much more focused Falling In Reverse than we’re used to. The consistency lies in developing a mood with each song that can truly be felt. The challenge lies in crafting a flow of these emotions that makes sense. With that being said, the track order works exceptionally, shifting tone frequently enough to keep the listener guessing yet familiar enough with the general vision the band had with this record. “Coming Home” is overall a rock album but with variants of pop-punk and post-rock thrown in with some tried-and-true active rock tricks.
That aforementioned vision for this album does feature less guitar shredding and an absolute exclusion of breakdowns, but it does show some maturity as a result. That owes a great deal to Ronnie’s diverse vocal delivery which showcases a vaster range of abilities than he had shown previously. He trades in screams for commanding grit, wails for soaring high notes and death growls for pure emotion. The yin and yang of sincere vocal delivery is clearly something Ronnie has mastered with time. Just look to examples like the title track or especially this writer’s favorite, “The Departure”, the album’s end credits sequence. It must be stated though that when new guitarist Christian gets the opportunity to shred out a solo or two amongst the 13 tracks, it sounds like Jacky never left.
A compliment to “Coming Home” is that I had a much harder time figuring out my favorites off it than other previous Falling In Reverse album. Instant favorites were prominent: The sarcastic “Loser”, dastardly “Fuck You And All Your Friends”, oddly charming “I Hate Everyone” and the best pop-punk song I’ll likely hear in all of 2017, “Hanging On”. The second half of “Coming Home” tones down the snark of the first half for a total confessional Radke, one we have only experienced previously in short bursts. I didn’t expect a song like “I Don’t Mind” from him in a thousand years. We may not receive this personal of a song in a thousand more. Any fan looking for the more fun side of the band should look immediately into the album’s two bonus tracks which reminded me immediately of Sum 41’s best moments, specifically “Paparazzi”.
How easy it would be to consider this Falling In Reverse’s best record lies in how well-written and easily accessed the songs themselves are. The songwriting in Falling In Reverse has never been lackluster, but it’s refreshing to hear the band mix it up yet again by doing what no one expected and making a moodier record that instead of All Time Low and Plain White T’s, calls to mind the likes of Linkin Park, Three Days Grace, Deftones and 30 Seconds To Mars. Though this is a popular direction right now, this is as far from a disingenuous decision as possible. Within radio rock friendly song structures Ronnie still utters lines like “Crash and burn on the car ride home” and “I’d be happier if I slit your throat” that would fit just fine on a new Senses Fail record. This is no compromise of identity clearly and Ronnie hasn’t forgotten where he’s come from.
Despite a drastic shift in the instrumental department, Falling In Reverse shouldn’t have any problems with losing fans. After all, “Coming Home” finally gets down to the core of who the band are after 6 years worth of material — Brutally honest, surprisingly fantastic and inexplicably addictive. With no filler to speak of, bigger hooks than ever and his soul poured out in recorded form, Ronnie Radke shouldn’t regret reaching for the sky with “Coming Home”. Hopefully this teaches the band’s peers that experimentation can work out just fine without sacrificing identity.
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