Record Review: From First To Last — ‘Dead Trees’

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In 2013, From First to Last launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of crowdfunding a new EP. After surpassing their initial goal of $25,000 and raising over $30,000, the band decided to produce a full-length album instead. This album, released on April 23rd via Sumerian Records, is called Dead Trees. Following the release of Throne to the Wolves in 2010 and then a three-year hiatus, Dead Trees is the product of some rough patches and fresh perspective.

Dead Trees introduces vocalist Spencer Sotelo of Periphery to the lineup, whose vocal skills are definitely accentuated in the new sound, especially in the theatrical and appealing “I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good,” which is one of my personal favorites on the record. The title song of the album was the first single to be released back in November 2014, and for good reason. It has a catchy chorus and showcases Sotelo’s vocal abilities quite well, switching between sing-a-long moments and heavier riffs that make you want to get in a fight.

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“Black and White” is one of if not the most epic song off the record, shifting between a powerful chorus, a melodic bridge including whispers that build up into a deeper version of the final chorus and tense, off-kilter guitar riffs to close the song with a haunting tone. Following “Black and White” is “Back to Hannalei,” which continues and emphasizes the unnerving and almost melancholy vibe of the record. The song is almost exclusively clean, slow, and soft. It may at first seem out of place, especially after being followed by vibrant, loud, and reckless “Never in Reverie,” but it is a nice surprise. Another surprise is the last, acoustic song, “I Don’t Wanna Live in the Real World.” This track pokes fun at mainstream media, and, although I’m sure was added for humor, doesn’t strike a chord with the rest of the record at all and feels too left-field.

The album also boasts a few pleasant curveballs in the form of bonus tracks, most notably, the re-recording of fan-favorite “Note to Self” in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of FFTL’s Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count (2004). Other bonus tracks include “Ride the Wings of Pestilence” and “The Latest Plague.”

Dead Trees is, overall, a refreshing album. The vocal range of Sotelo is diverse, the lyrics are powerful and mesmerizing when combined with both the melodies of emo-rock anthems and the heavier bits that run into the hardcore genre. Dead Trees could arguably be called From First to Last’s comeback record, and, if that is the case, I couldn’t be more stoked for their next release.

Review by Kelly Fay

Four and Half Star Rating

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