Having just joined the CincyMusic team, I was unable to do an immediate review of Suck the Honey’s debut full-length album, All Hail Having Failed. Fortunately, I have the perfect excuse to show my praise through this end-of-the-year piece!
All Hail Having Failed managed to remain my favorite Cincinnati music release for the latter months of 2017. With just two musicians, Lucas Fraizer and Jake Grove remind us sometimes two is all that’s needed. With Lucas’ introspective songwriting, guitar skills, and emotionally charged vocals, combined with Jake’s hammering on the drums, the listeners are treated to 43 minutes of a non-stop look into the personal “failures” of the two-piece.
The slow buildup of the opener Love the Best only makes the following song Bite Yr Tongue sound harder than it already is. Suck the Honey gets help from Cross Country and Dinge’s Emily McColgan for a soothing harmony about midway through. Suck the Honey reminds us this is a rock tune with the closing of the songs implementing more aggressive, maniacal drums and vocals from the band.
They Want Meat leads us into a heavier, borderline punk atmosphere with argumentative verses and a melodic chorus. During They Want Meat, Lucas introduces us to a well-intentioned boy who “wanted to tell everybody in the world not to be sad”; but alas, this album is about failures and “the boy had failed in the end”. The failure theme of this song is is prominent in the following In Love With a Ghost. The tempo drops, but only a little, as we listen through the contradicting feelings of hatred and love in ex-lovers. The song ends with the now familiar heavy sound of Suck the Honey.
On What Makes a Man a Boyfriend, Suck the Honey makes us sway and then nod our heads as they mangle with letting someone down due to personal shortcomings. This is a very “it’s not you it’s me” song with the final lyrics elaborating on what will make a man a boyfriend: love.
All Hail Having Failed gets to the depths of personal with Will You Bury Me. On this track, things get heavy. Musically, the track is hard-hitting as it is, but it is the lyrics that weighs heaviest on the listeners. The songwriting gives us a look into suicidal thoughts, with a list of what has weighed down the writer. The final minute of Will You Bury Me slows down to accentuate the closing lyrics: I tried and now I’m done.
Suck the Honey gets weird on The Dog. On what is the most ominous song on the record, Lucas and Jake get progressively louder and heavier as Lucas repeatedly states: the dog is the thing. For the shortest song on the record and with only five words to sing along to, The Dog has become one of the crowd favorites at live shows. Definitely a memorable song to say the least.
Next on the track list is my personal favorite: Right Where It Hurts. The band ventures into a more alternative route on this one. And speaking of personal, this song appears to open up scars of a past love. Admitting to still thinking about an ex, wanting to call, and the overall feeling of being in love, the listener is made fully aware of where it hurts. The highlight of Right Where It Hurts comes during the bridge of the song. As the guitar and drums duke it out, we hear Lucas’ emotion gnash through his vocals. Lucas’ vocals hit us hard with “look in my eyes, I’m gonna cry”, and deliver the final KO blow with “what the f-ck did you do to my head”. Without a doubt, my favorite moment on the album.
Nearing the end of the album, we get to the title track: All Hail Having Failed. Don’t fret about nearing the end -- as Lucas reminds us, “there’s still time to cry”! In another introspective song about constant failure, we get a surprising twist where we hail those failures. Through the self-deprecating lyrics, the music remains relatively upbeat, making this a fun song to toast to all your failures.
The last song can best be described by my mother who listened to this song in the car ride to Kroger with me: this boy has a lot of feelings, doesn’t he? May I mention that my mother primarily speaks Spanish. That being said, Truly Alone and Lonely can best be described as just that: pure feeling and emotion. On this stripped back track, Lucas explores the feelings of loneliness and despair. And just in case you forgot, Lucas reminds, “yes, it’s okay to cry”. If his emotion gnashed through Right Where It Hurts, it pours out in Truly Alone and Lonely.
With that, we end the review of my favorite Cincinnati 2017 release. Following their debut EP, 3P, anticipation was high for what Suck the Honey would deliver in their first full length effort. The results are gratifying. Yes, All Hail Having Failed! But also, all hail your successes, which this debut album has become.