Review Summary: All that Remains drop the attitude and increase the angst.
Irrespective of what your opinion of metalcore may be, its longevity is something to be admired. While the true source of the subgenre is debatable, the commercial success of metalcore exploded in the early 2000’s when bands such as Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, Unearth and Atreyu appeared on the radar. Their lyrics were relatable and their sound was melodious enough to seem accessible but heavy enough to rouse the audience. Generally speaking, it was an undemanding yet enjoyable style of metal to listen to. Consequently, this led to a massive influx of new bands, which explains why metalcore remains one of the most popular subgenres over a decade after its peak in popularity.
All That Remains were another band who was part of the commercial explosion 15 (ish) years ago as they released “The Fall of Ideals”
, their third and career-best album, in 2006. However, that album title ironically foreshadowed their career. Sadly, each of the following four albums All That Remains released ultimately degraded in quality, effort and inspiration resulting in a band that clings onto existence only because of how popular they once were.
Their latest album, “Madness”
signifies all that remains of All That Remains is only a shadow of their former self. Mercifully, there are a few moments in this bland album that reflect the band’s former greatness. Due to the odd sequencing of the album, the power that “Trust and Believe” holds through catchy, spiralling riffs and blast beats are, unfortunately, devalued as it’s squashed between insipid, cushiony songs near the end of the album. Similarly, the title track and “Open Grave” rely on affronting riffs to drive mid-paced momentum. Nevertheless, All That Remains once again displays an irritating need to bury everything that made them great under the weight of unnecessary electronics, weak piano and unexciting signing.
Prior to the album’s release, Philip Labonte mentioned that the album would “feature significant programming and electronic sounds” and he is true to his words. Despite this, the civil heads up doesn’t improve the quality of the music in any way. The majority of “Madness”
is blindingly over-edited from how shiny the songs are. During “Nothing I Can Do” Labonte eventually shifts into gear and lets out one of his trademark screams, however, at the end of the scream, they get edited to sound like some distorted, stammering hiccup. Laughable attempts of introspective lyricism are scattered across the songs as regularly as the electronic increments. The chorus to “Safe House” consists of the repetitious barking of ‘Welcome to my safe house. Do you feel safe now"’ whereas “Louder” has an even simpler hook of ‘You’re loud; I’m louder’. It’s difficult to cherry-pick lyrics from the pathetic “Far From Home”, nevertheless, the first line is: ‘Some days I like the ocean, it never seems to end’. The ocean also happens to be deep, unlike All That Remains’ lyrics.
Fifteen years and eight albums into a band’s career, you’re going to expect experimental changes in their sound. Naturally, bands want to succeed and progress their musical career, and if that means including sweeping choruses and more melodic sounds that appeal to a wider audience, then so be it. What fans don’t expect is a band to completely sacrifice their harsher past in order for this newer direction to materialise, especially considering the harsher elements are the reason for the band’s popularity. “Madness”
, signifies that All That Remains are now entirely focussed on creating stadium-rock sized anthems, even at the cost of the overall quality of song-writing continuing to traverse downhill faster than ever.