Chemical Warfare is the exact kind of stagnant album dynamic you’ve come to expect from Escape The Fate.
Escape The Fate is a band that has matured in reverse. Rather than growing, the band has continued to alienate their base audience in favor of a younger and younger sound, to the point I am not sure who they are trying to appeal to anymore.
The sound has really not evolved from their last album: overly poppy rock songs, that are all flare and very little substance. There’s really only one “heavy” song included, further pushing away their older fanbase. Instead, the album focuses mainly on sappy, try-hard break-up ballads or those simplistic but riffy and “edgy” tunes about how animalistic Escape The Fate are when someone “steps to them.”
The intent of Chemical Warfare is a clear continuation of their last album, I Am Human: to create an album packed with big guitar harmonies and catchy vocal hooks for syndication first, and write genuinely good songs as an afterthought. The album opens with “Lightning Strike” which, while catchy and entertaining on the surface, feels more like something Fall Out Boy would have written 15 years ago. “Invincible” featuring Lindsay Stirling, was actually one of the highlights of the album. Stirling’s influence gave the track an absolutely beautiful haunting melody, that was unfortunately paired with unimaginative lyrics and a force-fed bridge of children’s vocals.
The album then breaks into a poppy dance track with “Unbreakable” that is devoid of the emotional impact the band is aiming for, leaving everything feeling stunted and so utterly skin deep. While the song is meant to be inspiring—encouraging their listeners to go after their dreams—it comes off as disingenuous and contrived.
The album's titular track, “Chemical Warfare,” is another example of trying to make a poignant statement about depression after a breakup, but it falls flat and just feels plain whiny at this point. It’s as if the quartet has forgotten they are in their mid-30’s and no longer 15-years-old struggling with their first breakup.
Chemical Warfare doesn’t even hint at the band’s previous heaviness until the 8th track of the 12 track album with “Demons,” but, unfortunately, this track does not rekindle their metal side. With Craig Mabbitt singing in the verse “Every time you step to me/the end of you begins” the song feels like a parody a TikTok kid would write to try and mock bands like Escape The Fate. The album wraps up with “Walk On”, which is Escape The Fate’s overly positive, lovey-dovey take on the One Direction realm of pop music.
This new album is, unfortunately, a sad and sobering reminder of how far this band has fallen over the past decade. While it may be good for the younger audience, just getting started in metal, with bands like Tetrarch taking over in the “newbie” realm, I’m afraid there won't be much room left for Escape The Fate’s particular brand of sappy, sentimental-only-on-the-surface sound. Overall, this album has left me desperate for the band to grow up and find a more mature sound.