The band releases its third full-length album of original songs this week, entitled Enemy of the World. FYS, a band whose Wikipedia page labels them ‘melodic hardcore’, would be better described as ‘melodic punk/pop/beardcore’, consistent with the band members’ outdoorsy-look. Enemy of the World is the band’s first album on a major label, having been snatched up by Universal Motown after spending some time on Pete Wentz’s Decaydance label.
My overall verdict on this record? FYS are now the champs of this new brand of hardcore/pop-punk, looking down at the runners-up: Set Your Goals, A Day to Remember, and other bands of that ilk. FYS, though, really has the whole package, and it is on display on nearly every track on Enemy of the World. The lead song, It Must Really Suck to be Four Year Strong Right Now, is a barrage of chugga-chugga power riffs and energy that leads to a chorus of "Don’t fix it if it hasn’t broken yet”, an appropriate mantra for the band itself, which has truly hit its peak.
On a Saturday, the next song, is full of the type of crowd-participation moments that the band loves so much, where the vocals are echoed and you can picture a throbbing pit of rabid fans screaming along and pumping their fists in unison. It works particularly well on this song, with its passionate screams of “TONIGHT WE FEEL ALIVE!” carried out with a more hardcore-ish vocal style than usual.
As a whole, Enemy of the World is a kickass major-label debut for FYS. While Rise or Die Trying was impressive, I had issues with its production, as the drums sometimes sounded muffled and not as crunchy as they should have…this time around, everything sounds crisp and explosive. I’m sure some fans will whine that it sounds “too polished”, but to me, it’s perfect for a major label pop-punk/hardcore record.
The song titles are great, too. Nineteen with Neck Tatz starts out with more gang vocals, this time screaming “Can you prove to me…that you’re not dead and gone…we’ve crawled on hands and knees…but now I live my life standing strong!” before the song goes into more breakdown-core riff-tastic badassery. The song also has a particularly catchy chorus, as well. I can practically visualize the limbs and body parts flying through the air during this song at a show.
Find My Way Back is a song that sounds structured for radio play, something that probably will piss off some fans. It’s a little bit slower and the riffs are a little more generic than usual FYS, but it’s still a great song. By ‘radio play’ I mean the song has one of those infectious choruses that you’ll have a hard time getting out of your head.
What the Hell is a Gigawatt? brings the pace back up, with the dual-vocals of Dan O’Connor and Alan Day offsetting each other, set to a meaty riff. The breakdown/two-step part that comes in toward the end of the song is just broo-tal, as are the screams. It rocks.
This Body Pays the Bill$ sounds like it could have come from Rise or Die Trying, starting out with some more yelling and breaking down into usual FYS territory. Flannel is the Color of My Energy amused me title-wise (since I’m a self-admitted 311 fan boy), and its synthesizer beeps fit the song well, giving it a sort of Motion City Soundtrack-gone-hardcore/pop punk sound.
The last track, Enemy of the World, is pretty much the most badass thing FYS has ever done. It starts out with a chorus of voices, before going into an avenue for FYS to exhibit all the things they do right as a band – catchy gang vocals (“If you bring the heart then I’ll bring the beat!”), chugging riffs that never let the energy die, a breakdown with more delicious riff work and an overall aggression and passion that is the aural equivalent to being smashed in the face over and over but getting back up and taking some more fists to the dome because it’s so fun. The song fades out as the chorus of voices returns, and by the time it’s over you’re out of breath.
With Enemy of the World, Four Year Strong has really made quite a statement. Set Your Goals had raised the bar for this hardcore/pop punk hybrid stuff with This Will Be the Death of Us, but now they might as well hand over the crown to Four Year Strong. The album is just fantastic, and as a self-professed pop punk nerd (shout-out to New Found Glory and @xchadballx) I’m psyched that this type of stuff still exists.
So yeah, go pick this record up if you riffs, breakdowns and awesomeness. It’s a hell of a lot better than all that Vampire Weekend BS that’s all the rage with the V-necked hipster kids.
Plus, it’s got killer breakdowns, bro.