Saturday, February 23, 2013
All That Remains - A War You Cannot Win
All That Remains used to be a meat and potatoes metalcore band that even made the archetype of the catchy-and-heavy metalcore song, "This Calling". Good stuff, but when meat and potatoes are overcooked, the potatoes get mushy and the meat gets tough - it's hard to say that their last few albums have been anything but overcooked, and songs like "What if I was Nothing" and "Not Fading" are nothing but mushy, kind of like cold french fries that never really had the hard crust that gave them texture. Two albums prior to this, on Overcome, the rhythm playing was chunky, but it was starting to give the feeling that it was more a result of the meat grinder being broken than being an inherent upside of the style.
There's still a fair amount of metalcore riffing, double bass, and growled vocals, but it's not very good. They replicate the feeling of listening to a Van Halen song while waiting for the guitar solo, or listening to deathcore and waiting for the breakdown - it's just kind of there to frame the highlight if you're not infatuated with it. The highlights here are choruses led by vocal melodies that are lamer than a Poison ballad amidst thrash metal. All of these lead vocal parts are what you've heard about whenever you've heard anyone make fun of this band. It's just embarassing when there's a contrast of super-chunky chugging and intense shouting in "A Call to All Non-Believers" alternating with the wussiest chorus I've ever heard - it sounds like Phil Labonte isn't even trying here.
Despite the music being bad, Oli Herbert is the highlight of this record with his lead guitar work, not just comparatively good, but genuinely interesting and enjoyable.
All That Remains made a record around radio-friendly choruses with uninteresting and forgettable hooks. They also made a video for "Stand Up" that looks like the dreams of a teenager who plays Call of Duty all day - watch that and you'll earn the right to make fun of them in four minutes.