After returning from two years of incarceration, scene bad boy Ronnie Radke is back in action in the form of his new post-hardcore outfit Falling in Reverse. One thing is clear – he’s pissed. His anger on the band’s debut album, The Drug in Me is You, is mostly directed towards his former bandmates in Escape the Fate, who had the audacity to move on without him during his continual legal troubles and subsequent lock-up. Although Radke’s viewpoints on the subject are obviously flawed, biased, and at times, jaw-droppingly detached, it’s hard to ignore the pure vocal talent possessed by the Las Vegas singer and his painfully catchy melodies throughout the course of the album.
With the The Drug in Me is You, Radke attempts to make two things very clear to the listener: He’s better than his former bandmates could ever dream of being and he has a lot more sex than the rest of us. Shallow and self-centered? Absolutely. But this isn’t an act from the frontman—it’s the true nature of his very being seeping through every over-annunciated word. The album kicks off with the fiery “Raised By Wolves”, a poppy metal-core track zeroing in on Escape the Fate. Featuring lines like, “You’re what I started, now disregarded / One day they’ll see, it was always me”, “I have learned that my fate is something I can’t escape”, and “This war is mine”, it’s clear that Radke’s pulling no punches. Likewise, “Tragic Magic” takes aim at his replacement, Craig Mabbitt, when he sings, “You’re such a dumb fuck; you need to shut up / You bring a picture of me every time you get your hair cut / Imposter!” The Drug in Me is You is anything but subtle.
Aside from his explosive tirades, the album is also chock-full of revelry and mischief, as found on tracks like “I’m Not a Vampire” (“Mothers better lock your doors / And hide your daughters”) and “Good Girls Bad Guys” (“Baby, I get off by getting you off first”). Radke’s prideful demeanor and general disconnect from his own reality seem to boil over in the video for the band’s title track, which finds the singer being fondled by female officers, lawyers, and even a judge, as he performs from the stand in a courtroom. Perhaps what is most unfortunate about The Drug in Me is You is that Radke’s over-the-top antics and suggestive lyrics often times overshadow a rather enjoyable musical performance.
It’s true—there’s nothing earth shattering on this record, as it’s basically picking up where Dying is Your Latest Fashion left off, but there’s a fair amount of decent shredding courtesy of Jacky Vincent and Derek Jones along with just enough pace changes from song to song to keep the listener on their toes. The repetitive nature of tracks like “Don’t Mess With Ouija Boards” along with several cringe-worthy breakdowns seem fairly forgivable given the nature of the album’s creation, most of which was written in Radke’s head while he was in prison. Alas, despite its generic nature, The Drug in Me is You serves as good background music at a party or something to head-bang along with during a car ride.
On “Caught Like a Fly”, Radke finishes by saying, “I’m no fucking saint / But at least I’ll fucking sing about it”. There’s something to be said for the authentic nature of his words. Mabbitt has never been convincing enough as Radke’s replacement in Escape the Fate, despite his best efforts. If you’re going to embrace the bad boy persona as a rock star, you’d better have the track record to back it up – anything else comes off as incredibly fake or just plain pathetic. Like him or not, Radke is exactly who he presents himself to be, and while this doesn’t make for an incredible debut record, it certainly makes for an intriguing ride. Now that his vendetta against his former band is out of the way, perhaps Radke and the rest of Falling in Reverse can set their sights on creating something a bit more noteworthy.