REVIEW: "Strength In Numb333rs" By FEVER 333 (Rap Rock)
Rap Rock, Post Hardcore/Roadrunner Records/Released Jan 18, 2019
Fever 333 is definitely a rap rock band of the current day. A supergroup composed of members from post-hardcore acts Letlive, The Chariot, and Night Verses, the band has more in common with 21 Pilots than Rage Against The Machine. Preaching a message of activism and change on a Trojan horse of squeaky clean production and catchy pop choruses. It’s a sound aimed at the Gen Z and younger millennial crowd that may turn off older music fans who grew up on the rawness of RATM and Beastie Boys.
Jason Butler’s impassioned singing and rapping at the forefront of every song makes for a strong focal point. And the drums are punchy enough to match the vocal energy, but the guitars feel too tame and processed. They’re distorted and loud at times but are relegated to the background and lack a distinct tone. Simply a bed of buzzy noise for Butler’s vocals to sit on. It’s like the band is torn between wanting to be a guitar band or an electronics focused band and can’t decide.
Lyrically the songs are mildy cliched calls to action that have been heard before from many other politically focused bands. An exception is found in “INGLEWOOD/3” where the lyrics get personal and autobiographical. The track is much softer and atmospheric which fits the production style of the record much better than its harder tracks. The last leg of the song does get aggressive but ups the ante with screaming vocals, dissonant electronics and heavily distorted bass allowing the instruments and vocals to mesh more smoothly. Making this song the standout favorite of the record.
Despite the actual content of the lyrics being so-so, it’s delivered in a strong way. Butler’s vocal style is high energy and he has a strong singing voice to carry each song’s hooks. His rapping is more focused on emotion than complex technique similar to the likes of Stray From The Path. Fitting the punk energy of the songs. His vocals are easily the main attraction carrying the record.
Strength In Numb333rs isn’t a particularly innovative album. But it’s focus on catchy hooks, high energy, and all around accessibility is solidly executed. It’s a combination that’s reminiscent of Linkin Park, albeit without the same level of arena level anthems. Rap rock has slowly been coming back into fashion. And if Fever 333 can improve and diversify on their current formula then they have a chance of becoming one of the leaders of the revival.