Review by Greg Maki
I’m all for a little mindless fun. Rock ‘n’ roll for rock ‘n’ roll’s sake can be a beautiful thing. But it’s not the only thing. Music with a message—one that’s relevant and resonates—can have an uncommon power. Combine that with a creative, catchy sound, and you’re really onto something.
Which brings me to Fever 333, a trio that loudly announced its presence in 2018 with its fiery, unpredictable live shows—which the band refers to as “demonstrations”—and the impassioned songs that made up its debut EP, “Made an America.” The members of Fever 333—former letlive vocalist Jason Aalon Butler, former Chariot guitarist Stephen Harrison and Night Verses drummer Aric Improta—see injustice in the world, and whether it’s gun violence, police brutality, economic disparity or a number of other topics, they aren’t going to sit idly by. Like the EP that preceded it, their debut full-length, “Strength in Numb333rs,” is a call to action.
While much of the lyrical content is deeply personal, drawn from Butler’s past growing up in Inglewood, California, the work as a whole has an inclusive feel. The album’s title acknowledges that real change only occurs when like-minded citizens band together to make it happen, as people did “before the chosen form of protest was just typing shit,” as Butler says on “Animal.” He puts an exclamation point with his final words on the album-closing “Coup D’Étalk”:
“We did it together
“That’s how we win
“We the people fight the power to maintain our power
“And when we win, because you know we will
“It’s all power to all people.”
Perhaps the record’s most powerful lyric comes on “Prey for Me/3,” on which Butler repeatedly intones, “You’re not the only one that feels like the only one.” The central idea seems to be that it’s up to all of us—no matter our race, religion, gender or any other form of categorization people in power use to divide the masses—to change our world for the better.
And while there’s plenty of anger to go around throughout the album, it’s not rebellious for the sake of being rebellious, and there’s a general, underlying hopeful vibe. So when, on the lead single “Burn It,” Butler says, “Sometimes you’ve gotta burn it down,” the goal is “to build it up again.”
Musically, “Strength in Numb333rs” boasts a diversity barely suggested by “Made an America.” Rage Against the Machine comparisons are apt, but they only scratch the surface. We also get melodic, Linkin Park-style choruses, a seven-minute ballad and almost Nine Inch Nails-like electronics that add texture and atmosphere. It all adds up to a dramatic, provocative recording on every level.
(Roadrunner Records/333 Wreckords Crew, January 18, 2019)