I Set My Friends on Fire – You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter

Band: I Set My Friends On Fire
Album: You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter
Genre: Electronic Hardcore
Label: Epitaph

Tracks:
1. Sh*t Talks…I’m Out of Here
2. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
3. Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beerholder
4. Things That Rhyme with Orange
5. ASL
6. Interlude
7. Ravenous, Ravenous, Rhinos
8. HXC 2-Step
9. WTFWJD
10. Crank That
11. But The Nuns are Watching…
12. Reese’s Pieces, I Don’t Know Who John Cleese Is?

I never understood the reasoning behind it, but people on the high end of the industry love to jump on gimmicks, especially as of late. The idea of building a band’s career from the ground up is out and popularity on the internet is in. With that in mind, I give you, I Set My Friends on Fire, a group who burst onto the scene last year with their hardcore cover of Soulja Boy’s, “Crank That.” Something about these boys struck a cord with those at Epitaph and here we are, about a year later, and ISMFOF have brought us their debut album, You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter, a grab bag of hits and misses and of course, the cover that got them to where they are today.

Most bands try to set the mood with the intro track to their album and that’s the case here, only in a completely different sense. “Sh*t talks…” is soon to be skipped track that features the band being coerced into playing a show on an alien planet. It’s ridiculous and sure to make you smile, but nothing you’ll ever probably return to. However, it is good to find a band that makes it obvious they’re just trying to have fun with their music. This then leads us into the kickoff track, “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men,” which sets the tone for all that is to follow. It’s a song for the “haters,” which flows perfectly with the intro and kinda gives us a nice glance into the fact that this isn’t just noise, but rather noise with a purpose. the track can also be summed up as a lot of screaming, synth work, and some very perfect sounding drums and chugging guitars. The lyrics are outlandish, but so is everything else, so we just let is fly. Somehow, though the song is almost half a minute short of two minutes in length, they still find time for a full fledged breakdown. This breakdown then takes us into the frenzied beginning of, “Beauty is in The Eyes of the Beerholder,” which then takes us to some beautiful key work before going back to formulaic screamo/hardcore style work. However, there are a lot of random musical parts to the track that kind of fit a theme on the album of not being to settle on exactly what “____-core” tag they wish to carry. I would like to mention the singing here is very well done and makes you wish they had more tracks that featured such work as it’s very fitting and just hits so dang well. Luckily, “Things That Rhyme With Orange,” does include more singing and it really takes the music to a whole new level. This is the best structured song thus far into the disc and it’s the first I really felt I wanted to return to at a later date.

Things continue well for ISMFOF with, “ASL,” which has a very Dr. Acula like feel to it, with music that seems to teeter on the line between great and psychotic, but in the best possible way. You almost want to take the guys seriously here, but the spoken word parts [including a fake accent at one point,” keeps things light overall. Unfortunately, an unnecessary interlude then kills all the steam the album has built, It’s pretty and all, but doesn’t fit whatsoever with the album. If they really wanted it on the record it should have just been tacked on at the end or something to extend a song because on its own it is probably going to be skipped over, just like the intro. Though, following this brief sidetrack is the best song on the entire album – “Ravenous, Ravenous, Rhinos.” It is here that the band perfectly balances humor and good music. It’s as if everything falls into place just right and shows you there is more to the band than simply gimmicks. If it is humor that you’re looking for though, “HXC 2-step,” is the song for you. The beat is simple and the words are ridiculous, but I’m sure teens will be “bumping” this in their car stereos in no time with their friends chanting every line. I will say though, if you’re looking for something to just hit play and lean back, then this won’t be the record because the follow ups, “WTFWJD,” and the new rendition of, “Crank That,” both feel a little flat. “WTFWJD,” falters int hat it’s repetitious of everything else thus far and so it goes by without a wink of your mind’s eye and, “Crank That,” even with a much heavier and better breakdown, is just too played out [note the recent Lustra review, who suffered from a similar problem].

To close out he album we find the second best track, “But The Nuns Are Watching,” kicking things off with a bang. This song starts off with the pop laden feel of so many rock bands in the scene today, but then flips into this heavy world that is something ISMFOF has all to themselves. I know other bands use the synth laden breakdowns, but this is two guys, ripping teir throats to shreds with lyrics that seem to have no point other than the fact that they randomly rhyme and are more fun to shout than anything else you could think of to the music. Speaking of the music, it’s so catchy that no genre can contain keep people away from it, especially in the breakdown which finds the keys climbing higher and higher as the open chugs seem to drop lower and lower. This flip of sound sends you and your mind for quite a loop, but it’s entirely worth it. Just as you then begin to recover you’re hit with the epic closer, “Reese’s Pieces, I Don’t Know Who John Cleese Is,” which, though subtle at the start, is structured with hints to quite a future for the band. The music just builds and builds before doing a 180 and starting all over again with a more electronic sound.  Some may argue the band is lacking direction, but in my mind, they’re simply keeping things fresh. Add some gang vocals as everything fades and ISMFOF leave us with a delicious taste of angsty goodness in our mouth.

I Set My Friends on Fire are bound to be hated by musical elitists for their synth laden hardcore, ridiculous lyrics, and back story, but it’s all these elements that will also win over an entire different generation of music. It’s good to know there are still bands out there that don’t take it all too seriously and really have fun with what they’re doing. It’s apparent they jsut want to make you dance and smile and in this case, they won me over entirely. Now, there is some parts on YCSSWL that get a bit old a bit fast, but for a debut from a band who gained fame on a hip hop cover, this is sure to wow more than a few people.

*Written By: James Shotwell*
GRADE: 7/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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