From First To Last
Some bands have a trouble spot. They can't hang on to a drummer, bass players come and go or each singer's tenure is relatively short. From First To Last (FFTL) had problems all over the place.
From their inception as a high school Punk band to signing with Capitol Records in '06 (after a stint with Epitaph), FFTL underwent significant changes. Singer Sonny Moore replaced Phillip Reardon. Original bassist Patrick Justice left with Jon Weisberg eventually taking over, but not permanently - and that caused some big problems.
Following Weisberg's departure (in the middle of a tour with Bad Religion, forcing the group's tour manager to step in) ex-Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Boland worked on their "Heroine" album with Alicia Simmons handling bass on tour. Another original member, drummer Gregi Taylor packed it in with Derek Bloom signing on.
The good news - early on Travis Richter was added as a second guitarist and managed to stick around. Living through these arrivals and departures was guitarist Matt Good, the group's last standing original member.
But rampant turnover was not all FFTL had to endure. Moore, who the group found through MySpace, had to have a node removed from his vocal chords. His two surgeries sidelined FFTL. But that wasn't the end of it. A tear in Moore's vocal chord got the group dropped from the '06 World Champions Tour.
Here is where Moore becomes less. Driven by the desire to "create his own music" Moore split from the band in '07. Then their label dropped them in a budget-cutting move. So now, FFTL had no singer or record company. Time to pull the plug and go home? Not just yet.
Good took over as lead singer and the group found its way to the Suretone label where they released their self-titled album in May, '08. But even that had its moments. First, FFTL sunk what money they had into a recording facility to lay down tracks for songs already written. That led to the Suretone deal with the group returning to the studio, this time in L.A. and with producer Josh Abraham, to re-record the album.
"Throne To The Wolves" was seen as a fresh start for the band. But it was followed by an extended break before the Kickstarter financed album "Dead Trees" dropped in '15.
A decade after he left, Moore (a.k.a. Skrillex) returned to record "Make War." The song was co-written by Moore.
2004 Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count
2008 From First To Last
2010 Throne To The Wolves
2015 Dead Trees
There is something to be said for just slamming chords and letting 'er rip, which is exactly what From First To Last does on "Heroine." Here their Punk Metal attack is in full-force as they race through songs before coming to an abrupt stop or tempo change. Keeps everybody on their toes. Moore shreds his vocal chords on "The Crows Are Coming" then complains about it on set closer, "Waltz Moore," where he sings "pushing my limits for your entertainment."
Much of the album seems to be so much thrashing about. Some of it, "Mothersound" and "The Levy" in particular, works but a lot doesn't. "World War Me" and the ballad "Goodbye Waves" are the set's most melodic tracks but melody is not what FFTL is known for.
"Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count" is a far more cohesive and satisfying effort. For one thing, the songs have better titles: "The One Armed Boxer Vs. The Flying Guillotine," "Like You Better When You Were Naked On The Internet," "Kiss Me, I'm Contagious" and "Secrets Don't Make Friends." With hypnotic drum beats (on "Internet"), shedder vocals (Kiss Me, I'm Contagious") and speed riffs ("Featuring Some Of Your Favorite Words") this is their signature album.
The seven song EP "Aesthetic" with Reardon handling vocals is also worth checking out. He shouts his way through "Regrets And Romance" but manages to effectively tone it down while still keeping the energy (no small feat) on "Such A Tragedy," "For The Taking" and "Ultimatums For Egos."