Review Summary: All That Remains replace progression with mediocrity.
Despite their numerous fundamental differences, classical and modern music can be likened to one another in several ways. One especially notable similarity lies in the use of structure within musical works. Classical musicians would often work with sonata-allegro, rondo, and other forms, while modern-day musicians have popularized the twelve-bar blues structure and, more recently, the verse-chorus form (containing two verses and three choruses) that has come to dominate pop and rock. However, modern music seems to follow predominant structure much more closely than works of the past. Some of the most well-known classical works, such as Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata and Symphony No. 9, are recognized for their deviations from standard structure, but in today’s most popular music it has become so commonplace to follow a strict form that it seems almost unorthodox to do otherwise.
Perhaps this is why it was necessary for All That Remains to begin conforming to the verse-chorus form in order to move further into the mainstream. In earlier albums, such as This Darkened Heart
, songs did not follow a single pattern; beginning with The Fall of Ideals
, however, a new adherence to verse-chorus form was immediately noticeable. In Overcome
, reliance on structure has grown even further, as every song on the album now uses this pattern. Yes, this means that the music is now more accessible, but the change also resulted in a certain amount of freedom being sacrificed. In other words, there is no room for things like breakdowns and long instrumental passages that once helped All That Remains to stand out, if only slightly, among metalcore groups. As if that wasn’t hurtful enough, little variety exists in the actual verses and choruses themselves, leaving Overcome
with ten songs that sound remarkably like each other, if one does not include the cover at the end.
And yet, ironically enough, the cover (Believe in Nothing
, originally performed by Nevermore), is the worst song on the album. Believe in Nothing
is by no means a bad song, but it just doesn’t suit All That Remains’ style. The cover is boring and tedious to listen to, and one receives the impression that the musicians themselves are uninterested in what they are doing. This is especially true of vocalist Phil Labonte, whose normally strong and confident voice is replaced by one that is light and airy, as if produced by a beginner unsure of his ability. As for his work on rest of the album, Labonte manages to stay on target with his clean vocals (despite a drastic change from his usual tone color), but his screaming is what really hurts his performance. The vast range that he showcased on The Fall of Ideals
is mostly gone; instead, Labonte adopts a single mid-range scream for the vast majority of Overcome
. A notable exception to this rule is Two Weeks
, in which harsh vocals are absent save from some background screams in the verses.
Regarding the rest of the band members, nothing is exhibited that we haven’t already heard from All That Remains. Sure, there are flashy guitar solos as always, but this time around that’s all they are – flashy. Besides some well-done technical work, they generally don’t add anything to the songs. The bass goes unheard, its contribution drowned out by the annoying tone of the guitars. Replacing drummer Shannon Lucas is Jason Costa (formerly of Diecast), who puts on a decent performance, but can’t quite match up to his predecessor. In short, there’s nothing wrong with the musicianship exhibited on Overcome
, but there’s nothing to set it apart, either.
It’s difficult to recommend tracks from this album, because many of them are essentially the same. There are some notable moments, such as the intro of opener Before the Damned
or the softer verses of A Song for the Hopeless
, but in its entirety Overcome
has fallen into the trap of mediocrity which is so common among metalcore albums. Those who don’t mind repetitive structures and ideas may enjoy this, but most serious metal fans will find nothing particularly interesting about it.