Review Summary: Guaranteed best choruses in the business.
Metalcore. Before it became one of the most universally reviled styles within heavy music, it was actually considered interesting, melding the typicaly Swedish melodeath sound with American hardcore sensibilities and instantly appealing pop choruses. This was back at the beginning of the century, where the style was comprised of a half-dozen bands and four out of five releases were actually worth the listener’s time and money.
Evidently, with the expansion in popularity of the genre, all this went to hell. Upcoming bands were now derivative, doing very little apart from copy the bigshots, and the bigshots themselves were struggling to keep their credibility and relevance. Within three years or so, the genre was dying, if not on the charts, then at least in the view of serious listeners.
Throughout all this, however, the really
good bands managed to keep their heads above the water. Acts such as Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall had their grandpappy status to fall back on, while other groups relied simply on their expertise and the strenght of their records. Among these acts are bands like Unearth, God Forbid and today’s subject, All That Remains.
Formed around the same time as everyone else, ATR’s main claim to fame were their insanely memorable choruses. In a genre where most bands have interchangeable riffs, song structures and particularly vocals, Phil Labonte and company went to some pains to make sure each of their songs had a memorable singalong section that would drag the listener in and stick in his head pleasantly. Such a pattern was followed even within the group’s more brutal songs, successfully setting them apart from the cookie-cutter pack. This formula was perfected for two albums before the group’s third release cemented it once and for all, all while solidifying the band’s leading position within the genre.
Such an album is, of course, The Fall Of Ideals
, a record which competes with God Forbid’s Gone Forever
and Killswitch’s pioneering Alive Or Just Breathing
for the title of Best In Show within the more melodic strands of the genre. Simply put, eight or nine out of this album’s eleven songs are strong candidates to classic status, and even the less remarkable ones have their charms.
The album opener already sets the bar pretty high, giving us an instant standout in the form of This Calling
. With attractive riffs and vocals and one of the best choruses in the band’s career, this is one hell of a way to start an album which, fortunately, very seldom dips in quality. The following songs all present strong, memorable choruses, tight musicianship and a few good ideas, making for an extremely pleasurable listen. To be sure, the band doesn’t do anything different from their peers: their breakdowns are just as well-timed as everyone else’s, the riffs still sound like At The Gates scraps and Phil Labonte, while possessing a few distinctive traits, could be mistaken for a few other growlers. The difference, then, is that All That Remains do everything very well, all the while presenting a few clear attempts at genre-breaking. Such is the case, for example, with the acoustic intro on Whispers (I Hear Your)
, the Middle Eastern-tinged guitar doodles on Six
and The Weak Willed
, or even the black metal screeching which occasionally makes itself heard. These sections, apart from being captivating and attractive, also allow the band to present something extra, again setting them apart from their peers.
However, as would be expected, not everything is perfect. While most of the material is incredibly strong, with We Stand
and Becoming The Catalyst
shining above everything else, the songs occasionally sound a little void of substance. This is more noticeable on Not Alone
and It Dwells In Me
, where the verses and bridges seem to be little more than padding for the gigantic choruses. However, subsequent listens minimize this impression, a task which is made even easier by the presence of strong, attractive backup tracks like The Weak Willed, Six, Whispers (I Hear Your)
. By the time one gets to the final two songs – which use no clean vocals whatsoever and show the group’s cruder side – one has all but surrendered to the power of ATR’s metalcore.
In the end, then, this is a mandatory buy for all the coreheads, thrashers and melodeathsters out there, and may even please melodic metal fans who don’t mind growled vocals. If you already own Gone Forever, Alive Or Just Breathing, The Oncoming Storm, The War Within
, then get this one and complete your pantheon of metalcore. If you’re new to the genre, then this is a good starting point, since the melodic choruses will undoubtedly ease you into the genre. Either way, get this album – it is just too good to pass up.
Become The Catalyst