11 January 2015

All That Remains - A War You Cannot Win

For the last week or so into the new year, I've been looking into a few new albums for 2015, and this Massachusetts act All That Remains is listed as a Metalcore band although frontman Philip Labonte publicly isn't comfortable with that moniker. I've reviewed several albums in the genre in the past 12 months, and I will concede that the whole musical platform is a little diluted from the more hardcore and intense fields from about 10 ten years earlier. In fact, they started off on death metal traits, inspired by Slayer and Pantera so it's my hope that metalcore in the ten or so years it's been with us isn't too diluted.

Not one that rolls off my tongue as metalcore seems to be the mainstay for these death and thrash influenced acts, I think the title for best act here goes to Killswitch Engage and in fact Mr Labonte has deputised for Howard Jones in the band a few times. On top of a few other acts where he's plied his trade, he's also the chief songwriter for this band, now been a stable entity since 2007. They have a forthcoming album called The Order Of Things due this January, so while we're in the dawn of 2015, thought to look at this previous offering. 

I do like a little variety in metal circles, but on first listen of this album, it feels for me a little disconcerting that roughly 75% is played in the same C# key. But maybe that this has more to offer than the skull and M-16 rifles on the sleeve. If metalcore needs some examples to offer to the new listener, then we could do a lot worse that opening track Down Through The Ages, introduced by some confident riffwork and Philip Labonte alternating between his clean vocals and growls. However equally good the next track is You Can't Fill My Shadow, I can't help but think that perhaps it's too much of a sameness as the prior? Not necessarily as the beat changes midway after some deft death metal leads.

Snarls take a rest now in their first single release Stand Up, a touch too ordinary to be anthemic, it's on a par at best and doesn't really showcase what All That Remains offers us. Next track A Call To Non Believers is so intense and growly I'm sorely tempted to give this top marks alone before Asking Too Much once again is anthemic as Stand Up, but sounds better and less adolescent. 20 second Intro (no, I don't why either midway into the album) leads on the vocal swapping Just Moments In Time, I love the drumwork on this and for me, it's what metalcore should be. 

So far, it's more of a yay rather than a nay from me, so now onto the next track, another single release What If I Was Nothing, part acoustic, part heavy rock. As anthems goes, it's the best of the lot, with some solid resonating choral work. However, it's my opinion that the best has been saved towards the end with Sing For Liberty, finally there's some twist to the plot in the instrumental, a few more changes in the loops. I'm getting to the point of this album, where Not Fading is clean vocal dominated but assured guitar leads. The curiously titled Calculating Loneliness is a basic classical six string orientated opus before the title track A War You Cannot Win closes the album. Philip Labonte is just as comfortable in the high tenor notes as in the grunts. 

Now I haven't forgotten earlier that I bemoaned the lack of key changes in the album as a whole, I genuinely feared that this album was going to follow Puddle Of Mudd's mistake.The lifeblood of All That Remains is certainly Philip Labonte, a very confident vocalist and scribe, one of the best singers around I've seen for a good while. And A War You Cannot Win while being a fine album isn't one of the best, I can see what he and Co have to offer. Plenty of kudos into the recipe and plenty of pep, and I'm hoping The Order Of Things can carry the torch too.

8 out of ten. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.
Best Track : Sing For Liberty

Buy A War You Cannot Win here on Amazon
Listen to the album here on Spotify
Deezer listeners alternatively can click on this link
Official All That Remains Facebook here
Official All That Remains Official Website here

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