By Matthew Scheidel
It’s rare for a band to see so much success without even releasing their first album, but Fever 333 have done just that.
Fever 333 is an American rapcore supergroup formed in 2017 in Inglewood, California. For those unfamiliar with the genre, rapcore is a fusion of rap and hardcore punk. The band was formed from the remains of the bands Letlive (vocalist Jason Aalon Butler), The Chariot (guitarist Stephen Harrison), and Night Verses (drummer Aric Improta).
They released their debut EP, “Made an America,” on March 23, 2018 to generally favorable reviews from critics. The EP spawned two singles, “Walking in my Shoes,” and the title track, “Made an America,” both of which received heavy airplay on rock radio. The latter of those two gave the three-piece group their first Grammy nomination in 2018 for Best Rock Performance. This all led up to the release of their first album, “Strength in Numb333rs,” on January 18, 2019.
With their rap-rock style and often politically charged and curse-filled lyrics, the easiest comparison to make for this band is Rage Against the Machine, but I assure you this group is much more than a Rage clone.
The album begins with what sounds like a news report live from a protest for change, with people chanting “333!” This leads straight into the second track and lead single “Burn it.” You instantly hear the passion and energy that is littered throughout this record. The heavy riff and thunderous drums on this track makes you want to jump up and start fist pumping along with the chorus. The next song, “Animal,” really shows off Improta’s versatility as a drummer. He plays with a more hip-hop style in the verses, then shifts to a more hard rock style in the chorus. Despite this, it is one of the more straightforward songs on the album overall.
This leads to my personal favorite song on the record, the anthemic “Prey for Me.” Butler doesn’t miss a beat on this track. His fast-paced rapping in the verses, melodic vocals in the chorus, and shrieks in the bridge shows just how versatile he can be. Moving on to “One of Us,” the band offers some solace to those who may feel like they don’t have a voice. They encourage you to stand up for what you feel is right.
“They will cut you down/if you speak too much/cuz now you’re one of us.”
The eye-opening “Inglewood” features more of a hip-hop production style. While this sort of thing usually isn’t for me, what really sells this track is the lyrics. This song sees Butler open up about his experiences growing up in Inglewood. As someone who grew up in small town, I can certainly appreciate hearing a different perspective on what it’s really like growing up in an inner-city neighborhood.
“When ya’ll was learning violin, I was learning violence.”
“The Innocent” sees the band speaking out against police brutality, with references to the Trayvon Martin shooting and other incidents. The anthemic chorus hammers their message home. “No more excuses/we must refuse this/silence is useless/long live the innocent.” One of the more aptly named tracks on the disc, “Out of Control,” really displays Butler’s skills as an MC. While I do like the chorus in this song, it just feels disjointed from the tracklist overall.
After one of the more hectic tracks on the record, we get one of the few soft moments with “Am I Here?” This song was both a pleasant surprise and slightly disappointing. The song features some strings, which was certainly a welcome addition. I really liked where the track was headed, but it came to an abrupt end. After the second chorus, we get an all-string outro. I feel like they could have extended this track. Clocking in at 2:48, it’s the shortest song on the entire album.
Luckily, the record ends on a high note with “Coup D’etalk.” The track sums everything up quite nicely, closing with the same protest that started the album, with Butler speaking to the crowd.
“When we win/cuz you know we will/ it’s all power to our people!”
It’s worth noting that three of the 10 tracks on this album feature an interlude at the end. You can tell which songs these are in the tracklist because they they have “/3” in the title. These three songs are “Prey for Me,” “Inglewood” and “Out of Control.” Butler gets pretty chaotic in all of these interludes, from his passionate shrieks in “Prey for Me” and “Inglewood,” to his fast-paced rhyming in “Out of Control.”
If I had one gripe with this record, it’s the way the songs are structured. On every song on this album, Butler raps in the verse, then sings in the chorus. More often than not, the second chorus is followed by a breakdown. It definitely feels a bit repetitive. Not a huge complaint, but certainly something to mention.
Overall, I was not expecting to like this album as much as I did. I am someone who generally doesn’t care for politics in my music, but I can’t deny the passion and energy that was put into this project. It almost makes it sound like you’re listening to one of the band’s live performances. If the band is able to keep this up, then get ready to catch the fever.