Welcome into my nerdy world- As my roommate, his girlfriend and I sat down to play a rousing game of late-night Monopoly, I put this disc in for the first time and said to them "If this sounds like Story of the Year, I'm going to be pissed!" They chuckled, and I don't really know why I got that vibe- the album art perhaps, or the title, but I ended up only being mildly pissed. Ok, I wasn't pissed at all really, but anyway... we shall return to this board-gaming scene.
Yes, this is yet another band doing the scream-whiny sing-scream switcheroo. But when they scream, boy do they ever. From First To Last does a much more convincing job, bringing a level of hardcore MTV would never accept (we can hope). The band ends up sounding more like Thrice than SOTY at times with the double bass drum in "Note to Self" or "Ride the Wings of Pestilence", but they more often sound like The Bled such as in "Secrets Don't Make Friends" and the wicked breakdown of "Kiss Me I'm Contagious."
Smack in between the two previously mentioned songs is "Populace in Two" a melodic ditty remniscant of Brand New, especially the lyrics which even mention Morrissey. Then even stranger is "I Liked You Better Before You were Naked on the Internet", funny title aside, which sounds like it could have been an outtake from Blink 182's session for their newest album: boomy drum loop, synths, and a dead-on Tom DeLonge impression switching to a Mark impersonator halfway. "The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine" is perhaps the best mix of all on the album, changing tempos and dynamics well, with harsh screams balanced out by piercing melodies, and the previously mentioned "Note to Self" is another winner on the album in that respect.
And then there's "Emily", a song of long distance romance, which starts out as a promising acoustic track with two guitars that arpeggiate in harmony. Then the vocals come in and I'm slightly let down, but still it's not too bad. There is another cool acoustic tune in "Minuet", (which actually could be defined a minuet classically...thank you music degree...) and this time there are no vocals to drag it down. It's more of an interlude than anything, but it is nice to have this variety and to make the acoustic songs a pair rather than just one tacked-on.
Closer "Ride the Wings of Pestilence" has a drawn out breakdown with crunchy lows and screeching high guitars to end the album on a good point... but wait! There is an unlisted 12th track! It sounds fine for two minutes, and then: rapping. Yes, rapping. Maybe they got the idea from label mates Bad Religion, but really now. I dropped my top hat as the entire Monopoly trio in my apartment became instantly silent, turning to gawk at the CD player. Major League Playa is the guy's moniker, and he sure did take us by surprise. To make things even sillier, as his rap is ending, the band comes in with Cradle of Filth style multi-layer screams. Demonic screams. And they go out with a repetitive Filth style keyboard riff and a robot voice saying "Fuuuuuck Yooouu." Why? They should have ended the album a track early, or ended this track three minutes early. Points off for that.
While there are a lot of bands doing the bipolar tender-meets-hardcore thing, what gives this band an advantage is the extremes of each, especially the harder sections. They sell it. Plus, they are more like tri-polar, or throw in the rap for maybe quad-polar? Not bad for a debut full length, perhaps they can distance themselves even further from the (so-called) "screamo" pack. So, my Monopoly party was not ruined; thank you From First To Last.