Review Summary: Better left in fond memories, the album fails to stand on the nostalgic pedestal I built for it as a prepubescent.
The first time I'd heard of All That Remains I was in sixth grade. I was sitting in my buddy's room watching as he showed me something magical; he played the song “Six” on the hard difficulty, which was quite impressive to me because I had yet to master medium, on Guitar Hero II for Playstation 2. It was the first time I'd ever listened to anything heavier than what was played on the radio and it really resonated within me. The song was emotional, a quality I found disappointingly scarce in popular music, and yet it was aggressive with virtuosic (at least in my perception at the time) instrumentation. Ultimately it's what led me into the metal subculture and to my abandonment of radio music for what has come to be a very long time. It is for this reason that this album has a powerfully nostalgic value to me.
Time, however, plays its role and I am twenty now. Sixth grade was a long time ago and nostalgia is no longer so pervasive. I rarely listen to All That Remains (especially after Overcome), or even metalcore for that fact, anymore. But on the rare listen I am reminded of all of the songs I loved but also the ones I would grow to dislike after I received The Fall of Ideals on CD that summer. “Six” remains the best song on the album, emotion is still something I value very highly in music and I feel that song every time. The rest of the album falls unfortunately to mediocrity, mostly in the boring and recycled lyricism about breakups and pseudo tough guy peacocking and Phil Labonte's sometimes borderline atrocious chorus melodies. Songs like “It Dwells In Me” and “Become the Catalyst,” among others, show just how cringe-worthy he can make a song with his singing. Hope is not all lost though, Phil's better qualities show through in the songs “Not Alone” and “Whispers (I Hear You)” the former of which opens with an interesting syncopated melody in the guitars and the latter has one of the catchier choruses on the album.
Labonte aside, The Fall of Ideals has good instrumentation being fairly technical for the genre without being too flashy. The guitars have solos that feel purposeful and the drums, while they are fast paced, are nothing to write home about. Songwriting on the album is strong with repetition and related parts which keep every song from blending into the others, however every song sounds like it should be on a different album, like All That Remains couldn't create a cohesive sound for this one. Production is what you'd expect, everything sounds super clean which isn't necessarily a good thing for the drums which sound weak and sterile, really. Something I wish they'd pushed forward in the mix is the bass guitar, if it even exists at all seeing as it's not apparent on the album. A cool bass line could have been utilized very well in “Six” during the clean part of the guitar solo.
Listening to The Fall of Ideals after so long a hiatus is, in a word, disappointing. Better left in fond memories, the album fails to stand on the nostalgic pedestal I built for it as a prepubescent. The album is not bad overall, especially for the genre. It has good writing and instrumentation with drawbacks in production, lyricism and poor choices in vocal melodies that make it hard to say that this album will stay fond in my memories. Perhaps that's where it should stay so as not to spoil, to a certain degree, a pivotal point in my maturation.