Fact - Fact
Record Label: Vagrant Records
Release Date: April 14, 2009
For the longest while, I've listened to countless complaints about metalcore/hardcore/screamo/whatever you wish to call the genre. I can't say that I blame those people, though. It is a very tired genre; it seems as though every year we get more of the same basic formula, and thus the same 14-year-old girls going nuts and making those unoriginal artists go platinum. It's pretty clear that this genre needs a brand new coat of paint, and Japan rockers Fact have the perfect color. Blending their own poppiness and stone-cold rock and metal riffs, they've created something truly unique out of an otherwise tiring genre.
This band is destined to have hordes of haters, whether it be from the masks, the screams, or the fact (see what I did there?) that you probably won't be able to tell they're actually speaking English upon your listen (I actually didn't when I first heard them). Despite being a bit difficult to understand at times, the vocals have a fast pace and a smooth tone to them that creates a nice flow to complement the intense and/or soothing melodies that a number of the songs contain. The overall sound just fits so perfectly, and the vocals couldn't work in any other band, not that that's a bad thing. Tapping Michael Elvis Baskette (Incubus, Chevelle) for production they add some really cool flair to the songs without sounding too overproduced.
You may be as skeptical as I was upon popping this CD into your stereo. I mean, metal band from Japan that wears masks? Not the most appealing thing in the world (we can thank Hollywood Undead and Slipknot for that stereotype). The first song, "Paradox" sets the tone for the rest of the album by demonstrating the band's somewhat electronic vibe, their huge, catchy choruses, and the bite that makes the band what it is. The song melds into "Los Angels" another song showcasing their versatility with an outstanding melody and plenty of ups and downs to keep the crunch and pop in perfect balance with each other.
Lead single "A Fact of Life" comes on next, filled with an incredibly poppy feel and beat that I can only describe as "catchy as fuck." Prepare to have this song stuck in your head all day after hearing "I feel like time has passed so quickly since I took the photograph/Thanks for the memory/that doesn’t fade in my heart." After a loud, almost violent and unnecessary interlude, the band gets into another standout track with "Reborn." One of the band's older songs, it was re-recorded for the album and is very reminiscent of Metallica and 90's thrash metal, with blazing guitars, punishing riffs, everything you need. Following is the infectious "Purple Eyes" with a wonderful "ooh" chorus that bursts with energy.
The band starts to slow it down a bit with "Lights of Vein" and the brilliantly haunting "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence." After going strong for about seven songs, the band hits a small bump in the road by way of the instrumental "Co-3" and the somewhat bland "Snow," which I can't help but be uninterested in, as it's probably my least favorite track. They are in no way bad songs, they simply lack some of the flare the rest of the album holds. Fear not, though, because Fact still isn't ready to give way and let up, keeping up their amazing musicianship in melody in the next few tracks, whether it be with blistering guitar riffs, thunderous double-bass, the punchy, solid bass lines, or the quick and catchy vocals.
"45 Days" may catch you off guard, but it's a pleasant tune with some wonderful acoustic strumming that massages your ears after the countless assaults that have taken place earlier in the album. Following it up is another wonderful, slower-paced tune and another unnecessary interlude that simply mashes up a few of their other songs and places an electronic beat and static over them. I can't help but think "What gives?" at these interlude things. "Co-3" was bearable, but it really seems like they're just trying to fill space sometimes, that being one of my few gripes of this album.
The album both closes and hits it's climax on the song "Rise" which paces up into a great, addictive gang-shouting chorus of "And I will rise/And take back myself again." This song is, in my opinion, the big standout track on this album. It's a very good culmination of everything the band is and has some great musicianship, lyrics, and that overall feel of Fact, a great way to close a great album.
The road ahead is long and hard, especially with people ready to diss them at every corner, not to mention they were recently involved in a rather serious van accident that caused them to cancel the rest of their North American tour, but that's a new story for another day. So, if Fact can keep up with material like this, they're bound to become huge, even in the mainstream where I could easily see "A Fact of Life" grabbing huge amounts of attention. If you've been looking for something new and interesting to listen to, and are tired of just the same old thing, then I urge you to go out right now and pick up Fact, because this is one of those albums that doesn't come around every day.
I don't get all the praise. The record to me had no real cohesion, it seemed to be all over the place. I got bored with it pretty quickly and I can rarely understand a word the lead singer says. To each his own I guess.