All That Remains
Reviewed on this page:
Behind Silence And Solitude - This Darkened Heart - The Fall Of Ideals - All That Remains: Live - Overcome - For We Are Many - A War You Cannot Win
If you gave up on heavy metal a couple of decades ago, I have two things to say: 1) I don't blame you, and 2) It's safe to come back.
A Massachusetts post-thrash band that took off after vocalist Phil Labonte left Shadows Fall, All That Remains has the bare-knuckled power of metalcore bands like Lamb Of God crossed with the technical proficiency and multi-part, riff-based songwriting of thrash.
Philip Labonte, lead vocals; Oli Herbert and Chris Bartlett, guitar; Dan Egan, bass; Michael Bartlett, drums. Egan replaced by Matt Deis, 2003. In 2004, Mike Martin replaced Chris Bartlett. In 2006, Shannon Lucas replaced Michael Bartlett; Jeanne Sagan replaced Deis. In 2007, Jason Costa replaced Lucas.
Behind Silence And Solitude (2002)
At the start, All That Remains was a straight-up Gothenburg-influenced death metal act, with Phil Labonte delivering grunts and screams over crunching backing that's sometimes melodic ("Follow," probably my favorite single cut from the band) but always hard-hitting ("From These Wounds").
I'm not usually the "this band was great when they started but then they sold out" type, but so far I do prefer this version - with longer songs and more instrumental passages ("Erase") - over the later version with clean singing and three-minute tunes.
This Darkened Heart (2004)
Very much a continuation of the previous album's approach, with more precision ("Focus Shall Not Fail," including a flirtation with clean vocals). Nearly all heavy and harsh ("Tattered On My Sleeve"), though there are a few lighter moments (the mostly acoustic instrumental "Regret Not").
There's a lot of good stuff here - title track, the only flirtation with clean vocals - but "The Deepest Gray" stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The Fall Of Ideals (2006)
The group went more melodic on this third release, not as sharp as Trivium's contemporaneous disc, but in a similar vein: The opening "This Calling" packs heavy riffing, stop-and-start dynamics, a melodic chorus and blistering drumming into three and a half minutes, and the other songs are similarly concise ("We Stand," which makes nice use of harmonized leads; "Six"), while Labonte vaults from death metal grunts to upper-register clean singing to startling effect ("Whispers (I Hear You)"). Apart from tireless drummer Jason Costa, the instrumentalists don't stand out - though guitarist Mike Martin does play some extended solos - but they make good use of what they have ("The Air That I Breathe"); the dull "Empty Inside" is the disc's one loser.
Produced by Adam Dutkiewicz.
All That Remains: Live (2007)
Apparently this is a DVD, which we wouldn't ordinarily list or review, but on the other hand it's streamable on Spotify. Most of Fall Of Ideals is covered here, with little from Darkened Heart and nothing from the debut, and the band is enthusiastic and focused.
Labonte's vocals occasionally go awry, most painfully during "Six"; on the other hand, in an era where most spontaneity is Auto-Tuned or Pro Tooled away, it's refreshing to hear the rough spots left alone.
I have wonder if ATR got teased by their buddies for having too many light moments on their previous release. In a reversion toward their earlier releases, it's all fast and heavy - but this time there's little dynamic range, structure or melodicism, and Labonte in guttural scream mode way too often, and it gets dull very quickly ("Do Not Obey"). Then again, the few tunes with clean choruses sound whiny and defensive ("Undone"), and the quiet interlude in "Chiron" is a bust, so the record might have been dull regardless of the execution.
They do come up with a few solid tunes ("Before The Damned"; "Days Without," with an amusing hair-metal opening), Costa's drumming is masterful as before ("Two Weeks"), and at least the running times aren't bloated.
There's one cover: "Believe In Nothing" by obscure Seattle metallers Nevermore.
Produced by Jason Suecof.
For We Are Many (2010)
Nothing new in the approach: the technical elements - twinned leads, byzantine solos - are present, as are the clean choruses ("Aggressive Opposition") as well as lots of metalcore-style pounding power chords (title track).
"Won't Go Quietly" provides one of the few unexpected moments when the coda incorporates a Framptonian talking guitar. As on Overcome, there are several good tunes ("From The Outside") and lots of forgettable ones ("Faithless").
Produced by Dutkiewicz and Rob Graves, who also co-wrote three songs ("Hold On").
A War You Cannot Win (2012)
Again produced by Dutkiewicz in the same basic style, but the sound is tighter and harder-edged ("You Can't Fill My Shadow"; "Not Fading").
So there are still a fair number of failed anthemic choruses ("Stand Up"; "What If I Was Nothing") and interchangeable vamps ("Asking Too Much"), but it goes down a lot easier. Also, the instrumental "Calculating Lonliness" is better than their usual one-acoustic-number-per-album. I'm giving up hope that the band will ever reach new heights, but at least they're not reaching new lows.
Home to me.