Review: “Made An America” EP by The Fever 333

The words “highly anticipated” and “Supergroup” are used all too often these days to describe new releases. Both terms seem to announce “the next big thing” before we’ve had a chance to listen to what the band have to offer. Just because a band has members of a number of your favourite bands in it’s ranks, does it mean that it’s going to sound like a mash-up of them? No. It could just be one band members baby and the others are playing their part because they like what that person has to offer and they’re friends. In the case of Los Angeles, California Supergroup The Fever 333, the presence of former letlive. frontman Jason Butler is an instant and huge draw. Letlive. were not only hugely successful and much loved, but also many feel imploded and went their separate ways before their due time. Add to the trio Night Verses drummer Aric Improta and former The Chariot guitarist Stephen Harrison and you have three members from three much loved bands. Add to that mix guest spots from Yelawolf and Blink 182‘s drummer Travis Barker and on paper you have a very impressive mix of people with a very impressive back catalogue of music. That sets the tone before we’ve even started to listen.

Two things surprise before the EP is even played. Firstly at just over 18 minutes it’s short, EP length and secondly, there are only 7 tracks when the band played 11 at their Regency Theatre show on 31st August 2017. Indeed “Burn It”, “One Of Us”, “Gods of Resistance”, “Animal” and poetic “Southside Of Inglewood” aren’t on the release, despite “Burn It” being played live by the band on Carson Daily’s show before the release. We can only assume that these songs were written after the EP was recorded or the decision was made to go EP rather than album. Indeed if you throw these four songs and the bands live intro into the mix suddenly we’re at a 36 minute album of 13 tracks.

“Made An America” starts the EP off in fine fashion. It’s a real taster for the EP and the bands sound as a whole. Starting with some programming and then into a Rage Against The Machine inspired bass-riff with Jason Butler rapping over the top, before diving into a post-hardcore riff and clean sung chorus. The spoken word-isms are also very RATM and the political nature of the band is as much RATM as Stray From The Path. The song then leaps into a whisper that builds into a scream showing Jason Butlers full vocal range. “We’re Coming In” has had an official music video out for 7 months now and a live version out for 8 months. So if you haven’t heard it, I’d be surprised. It’s fusion of Zach De La Roche inspired lyrics that is unrelenting  in it’s force. It’s sonically very straightforward, simple riff-age but powerful and high energy. The aim of the game is announcing the band, announcing its time for change and the desire to question authority. Think RATM’s “Killing In The Name Of” and you get the idea. “Changes” features a guest spot from rapper Yelawolf and is a bizarre mash-up of two distinct styles, hip-hop and post-hardcore. It works after several listens but The Fever 333’s part comes off more like a sample on Yelawolf track than anything else.

There is a point on the EP where you come to realise that where you thought the band actually have a lot in common with Swedish post hardcore punks The Refused. “Hunting Season” features guest work from Blink 182‘s Travis Barker. Jason Butler’s rapping, combined with a furious, angst-ridden chorus in which John Feldmann’s production shines, threatens change. It’s a simple but forceful approach that is probably the last thing vocally that we expected to hear from Jason Butler. “Soul’d Me Out” is much more in keeping stylistically the rest of the material than “Hunting Season” with it’s melodic pre-chorus before exploding into a screamed chorus with a big leap in pace from the music. It’s a powerful song that demands attention. “Walking In My Shoes” is another one to combine hip-hip and programmed elements with post-hardcore musicianship. The antithetic nature of the pre-chorus is clearly designed for a sing-a-long before the pace drops and then rises again. Slow-Quiet-Loud-Fast-Slow-Quiet-Loud-Fast is a formula that is used throughout the song and repeated throughout the EP, giving the listener breathing space during the Slow-Quiet while also making the Loud-Fast seem Louder and Faster. “POV” aka “Point Of View” closes out the EP with more of the fierce vocals from Jason Butler across “Middle Finger to the face, that’s our point of view” which will no doubt be a big call and response in the live arena. It’s a straight hip-hop track with minimal guitar work, industrial tinges and high ferocity vocals.

There is a mash-up of styles within the sound of each of The Fever 333’s songs. There is programming, hip-hop, soul and post-hardcore vibes all thrown into a melting pot and that gives the band a “no rules apply” sound which works in parts and not in others. It will be interesting to see how the band mature from here with further releases as this style is going to be hard to maintain. It’s furious, chaotic and at times threatens to leap out of all control before being pulled back into line. There are many prevalent influences, from The Dillinger Escape Plan through The Refused and Rage Against The Machine with heavy social-political leanings. It’s as much about the music as about making a statement. Herein lies to the problem. While there are plenty of good song writing ideas and the partial abandonment of typical song structure is interesting, it may find itself getting tired fairly quickly as the formula becomes more and more obvious over multiple listens. It has the wow factor of a punch in the face the first couple of times out but after 10 or so repeated plays loses some of that edge. The earlier mentioned point on the length of the release and the absence of those additional songs the band are playing live suggests that this recording has been made and then sat on for a length of time, perhaps awaiting the deal with Roadrunner Records before going ahead. The decision not to add the additional songs and make it a proper full length debut album and not just an extended EP is a strange one but perhaps lends itself to the band releasing another EP of similar length in 6 months time. [6.5/10]

Tracklist

  1. Made An American
  2. We’re Coming In
  3. (The First Stone) Changes [Ft. Yelawolf]
  4. Hunting Season [Ft. Travis Barker of Blink 182]
  5. Soul’d Me Out
  6. Walking In My Shoes
  7. POV

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