Music News & Reviews

Escape the Fate survives to play another day

Escape the Fate has had several personnel changes since its founding in 2004.
Escape the Fate has had several personnel changes since its founding in 2004.

Escape the Fate’s latest album may be called “Hate Me,” but it sure wasn’t a reflection on life in the group during the time the album was made.

“Everybody just (seemed) to be in a better space mentally this go around as far as the band and as far as the management side, everybody behind the scenes,” singer Craig Mabbitt said in a phone interview. “It just feels like the entire team is on the same page.”

It had been awhile since Mabbitt had been able to be that upbeat about Escape the Fate or a new album. There often has been some element of turmoil surrounding the group. The biggest change involved Mabbitt himself, who replaced original vocalist Ronnie Radke in 2008. By that time, the group had also split with guitarist Omar Espinosa (in 2007) and keyboardist Carson Allen (in 2006).

When the group made its second album, the 2008 release “This War Is Ours,” only guitarist Monte Money and drummer Robert Ortiz remained from the original lineup. That album, though, was a decent success and Escape the Fate moved up in the size of venues the group played and the slots the band landed on festival bills. But it wouldn’t be long before there were more changes and more upheaval.

After releasing its 2010 self-titled album, the band went through changes in management, its record label and yet another band member, as Max Green, whose substance-abuse problems caused no shortage of headaches, was replaced by Thomas “TJ” Bell.

Then after the release of the 2013 album, “Ungrateful,” Escape the Fate parted ways with the group’s sibling guitarists Monte Money and his brother, Michael. Stepping into that void was Kevin Gruft, who had subbed for Monte Money before his official departure.

“When we were still having problems and people didn’t want to tour, he (Gruft) was always the guy that had our back and was there to tour,” Mabbitt said. “So our diehard fans have known him for years, and they’ve known TJ for years now.

Mabbit is optimistic the latest changes have resolved the long-running issues that kept Escape the Fate’s band membership in flux.

“I think we’ve just been through enough that finally you’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak,” Mabbitt said. “And I think that this album is that light and I think we’re finally going to get out of all of the s---. The future’s finally looking bright and finally not so jumbled up and confusing.”

Now Mabbitt says he sees a whole new dynamic in Escape the Fate with Bell and Gruft on board.

“Just the camaraderie on stage is there,” the vocalist said. “Everybody likes each other, so that’s a good thing. It doesn’t feel like anybody is out there for the wrong reasons. It feels like we’re all on that stage for the same reasons, and that gives us the ability to go out there and do it as a team and do it as a band and do it right, like you’re supposed to.”

The band lineup may have changed, but “Hate Me” retains the stylistic signatures of other Escape the Fate albums. Most of the songs – “Get Up, Get Out,” “Live For Today” and “Remember Every Scar” and the title track – blend straight-ahead hard rock/metal, with solid vocal melodies, tuneful riffs and hard-hitting beats. But there’s also a couple of fierce slabs of metalcore in “Just a Memory” and “Les Enfants Terribles (The Terrible Children).” Those songs mix Mabbitt’s screamed and sung vocals, while the band shows considerable instrumental abilities. The other change-up is the closing track, “Let Me Be,” which verges on being a power ballad.

Naturally enough, new songs are in the mix for the shows Escape the Fate is playing this fall. But Mabbitt hinted that there may be some surprises to go along with crowd pleasing selections in the set list.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of the favorites,” Mabbitt said. “And we always like to interact with the fans online (and see) what they’re expecting to see live. We definitely don’t want to take out any songs in the set that are going to bum somebody out. But it’s going to be a lot different.

“We’re planning on playing songs, older songs that we’ve never even really played before, period, or maybe we’ve only played on one tour five years ago. … That alone is going to make the set a lot different from what people have seen in the past.”

Escape the Fate Hate Poison Tour

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19

Where: The Boardwalk, 9426 Greenback Lane, Orangevale

Cost: $15