There are an immeasurable number of genre defining hardcore bands that have represented a fiery, yet necessary fight for political, social and cultural revolution. From Rage Against the Machine to more modern acts like Stick To Your Guns, the scene has had a consistent influx of bands with a significant message and a platform to spread it.
Now, presenting arguably one of the most important body of works that the heavy community has seen, it is time to add Fever 333 to that list. Working with producers John Feldmann and Travis Barker, the band have followed up their devastatingly angry debut EP Made An America with their first full length: STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS.
Prefaced by “…” the album begins exactly as could be anticipated. As chants of “333! 333! 333!” repeat in the background, Butler’s announcement foreshadows the entire album, thematically and tonally, and his declaration is fierce. With a scream that is as sharp as if he was standing right in front of the listener he yells:
“I want them to know there’s a mother fucking fever coming!”
The chaos only continues from that point on as the album’s lead single bursts in. “BURN IT” is an anthemic piece, a cry for revolution. Butler is livid, with his piercing screams employing the agony that defines the struggle he writes about.
Frantic drumming sets the platform that harsh guitar builds upon, while synths set up a daunting and aggressive atmosphere. It’s an anthem representing the revolt that the band are spearheading, referencing some of the most heroic and influential people of colour, including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
Thematically, the album doesn’t waver from this point on. Detailing the turmoil that people of colour undergo daily throughout America, the lyrics are rightly unsettling yet powerful. At times, Butler replaces his anger with anguish such as within the opening moments of “INGLEWOOD/3”. Pleading for the empathy of listeners, Butler employs metaphor emphatically:
“Imagine being born in a hospital whose doors open up right into a cemetery.”
At other times, Butler bears his fangs and brings his anger to the forefront. Using gun violence as a recurring theme, he combines real examples, such as the tragedy that befell Trayvon Martin in “THE INNOCENT”, and metaphor to encourage potent societal reform. There’s no pulling punches for the band, absolutely nothing is off the table. With a message to spread and a revolution to instigate their passion is sincere and unmistakable.
Just as the album excels in its lyrical and thematic concerns, sonically it is exceptional too. The band showcase an incredible ability to convey emotion and message through a vast array of musical styles. With fast-paced heavy hitters in “BURN IT” and “ONE OF US” the group harness Butler’s ferocity, combining it with bass heavy synth and hefty instrumentals to express their unambiguous fury.
At other times, the group slow it down- fortunately without ever losing the passion and power that flows through the album’s more frantic tracks. The pop and soul driven “THE INGLEWOOD/3” is one of two seven-minute tracks on the album that begins calmly, slowly building pressure like a volcano, always threatening to boil over before exploding vehemently at its conclusion.
Standout track “OUT OF CONTROL/3” is a seven-minute rapcore piece that parades Butler’s vocal range, while the absolute belter of a track “PREY FOR ME/3” proves the band hasn’t lost their ability to write an incredible breakdown. Or maybe it’s a bass drop? You can decide for yourself.
On a personal level, it’s important to note what the album achieves outside of it’s musical accomplishments. STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS fights against a struggle that I, as a listener, have never experienced and can only view from a third-party perspective. While ethnic myself, my ethnicity never caused me to experience hardship, as many people of other races have experienced at the hands of those individuals and social systems that are exactly what this record is fighting against.
The situations and systems that the band write about are thrown at listeners with full force, prompting contemplation, and firing up a desire for real change. The records’ purpose is clear from the outset, clear of gimmicks and pure of heart. When Butler sings “fuck the police”, it isn’t arbitrary.
STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS is a phenomenal record on every level. Not only is it sonically diverse, it maintains a consistent and unwavering demand for change. Every drum beat, guitar note and syllable is packed with passion. The seamless transition between pop-filled choruses, rap-ridden verses and animated breakdowns is incredible, while Butler is at his unrelenting and intimidating best.
The album is a demonstration, a reach for the reset button. The band understand that there’s a fight that needs to be won. A battle against the systematic and destructive oppression and racial prejudice that people of colour have been long subjected to. Their motives are clear, shared in the closing lines of the album’s final track “COUP D’ÉTALK”.
“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.”
They aren’t waiting for the world to catch up with them, they’re bringing the fight to the world.
Fever 333 are Jason Butler (vocals), Stevis Harrison (guitar) and Aric Improta (percussion).
Driven by an incredibly important message, the band traverse a vast array of genres and styles while maintaining their motivation. There truly isn’t a dull moment on the album.
Maybe a few too many woah-oh’s which isn’t atypical with John Feldmann at the helm. But that’s really about it, it’s a phenomenal record.