Now, in my younger and more impressionable days (sup, Fitzgerald) I had enough angst to land a 747 on. This, of course, is not different from other teenagers, however most angst does not have the capacity to kill. Yet From First to Last shows us that, if channeled through the potent fingers of young guitarists and the larynx of a strong lyricist, angst can leave a body count. Okay, that was my lame attempt at a relevant, encompassing introduction. I promise it will never happen again.
From First to Last's debut, Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount, may be taken on the surface as another hardcore/punk/screamo band belting out the same trite messages about suburban discontent to the point of vocal failure. And it would be hard for me to sit here and convince you that From First to Last are not, in fact, groupable with this recent trend in music. The angst-ridden punk-emo-rock pseudogenre has atrophied a little since its golden age a few years ago, its demise attributed most easily to the explosion of bands along the lines of Story of the Year, and the recent *cough* turn for the worst for our friends in Taking Back Sunday. I was becoming quite disillusioned with it, and have steered rather clear of anything falling into this category to save myself from disappointment. From First to Last has given life back to this dying pigeonhole of punk music. They reignite what angst-y (for lack of a better word) punk rock was all about; compelling ballad-like lyrics, wailed over screaming guitars and thundering drums.
Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount, I must admit straight off, does not push the envelope to any extraordinary degree. As I've stated, this is another band that walks that ever-trodden path between hardcore and punk, similar to another quality band of this nature, Letter Kills. And this is an apt comparison, if I may say so myself. Like Letter Kills, From First to Last does what has already been done, yet does it right. To get a feel for what From First to Last sounds like: think Senses Fail with better lyrics, less whining, and no references to devouring important body parts as symbols for pain. Then add a little Thrice, and puree. The result is a very strong band with a lot of force behind thorough lyricism. The substance in the tracks of Dear Diary is impeccable. There is a great deal of musicianship in these songs, even if it does seem as if much of what is offered has already been chewed up beyond all integrity by other bands.
From First to Last brings the rock in a way that, unlike other comparable bands I have heard of late, feels inspired and passionate. Sonny Moore had a relatively sticky job of keeping away from the same lyrical formulas that plague many bands which scream about heartbreak and hormone-induced rage, and luckily, the lyrics are somewhat intelligible and don't become too clichéd. Because of this, in my mind, From First to Last is automatically elevated above most of our other recent options in this category of music which usually boast frightfully pathetic lyrics (sorry, Buddy). It seems as if Moore is taking a page out of all our books with the line in "Note to Self" running, "And I'm sick of this scene, I need to break the routine." Perhaps not ground shattering poetic prose, yet I still respect Moore's apparent recognition of their task in breaking through the piles of mediocre waste which are the other bands that have attempted this style of music. A song which impressed me both lyrically and technically was "The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine", and I feel deserves note. Following an aggressive belt of the line "KILL THE LIGHTS!" the song tears into a very refreshing lyrically-Kashner-esque introduction stating, "Hello ladies and gentlemen, I'm glad you've graced me with your presence, you're in time to see me wrestling my conscience, staring into silence." This is one of the most interesting songs I have heard in this style of music, incorporating aspects of first person monologue and presentation into an awesome rock track. After all, any band that uses the word guillotine in a song, no matter how facetiously, wins my vote.
Every song on this album is a good listen, with lyrics ranging from the most impressive in my afore presented example to lyrics used to simply work with the music. And they always work. The blend between amazing music and thoughtful lyrics is very sound, and ties the overly impressive album together even more. The balance in material is also very well done. Since most of us are suckers for anything acoustic (sup, Lacey), the tracks "Emily" and "Minuet" (a strikingly impressive track, I might add) offer solace amongst the powerful drive of the rest of the album. "Ride the Wings of Pestilence" is another track that I couldn't help but point out. Though it takes a hit in its lack of originality, and also loses a little with that rap interlude in the hidden track (come on, guys), Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount makes up for it in delivering quality material. With such an amazing debut full length, I eagerly anticipate what is to come from these boys. This album is a must hear/own, and From First to Last must be known henceforth as the saviors of this subgenre that has meant so much to us for the past few years. Thank you, From First to Last.
Lasting Impression: 9/10