Massachusetts-based metal band All That Remains may have issues being deemed ‘melodic metalcore’. Whatever these gripes may be, the music on its seventh album mixes strangely sweet tunes with occasional doomsday-esque diatribes.
This Probably Won’t End Well opens The Order of Things on a subdued note, with its saintly piano glides, earthly noises and glistening guitar strikes. It then pummels them with galloping melodic metal that hints at impending doom, supported by Phillip Labonte’s vocals that walk a fine line between reassuring and confrontational. With drum hits scattering like bullets towards the end, what is the title hinting at? The end of the world as we know it? It’s a chilling piece so it was bound to be a single at some point.
No Knock is a contradiction, as its intro sounds like knocking on the door to hell. With growling, throaty vocals (signature elements of death metal and metalcore), it ditches melody for blood. However, Divide reinvigorates the album, as its tempo vigorously pounds an aural pavement like a determined jogger and its motivational lyrics arouse a sense of strength and togetherness. There are some musical niceties in Labonte’s harmonising with bassist Jeanne Sagan and Oli Herbert’s empowering lead guitar.
For You is a splendidly refreshing power ballad, starting with vulnerable acoustic guitar before culminating in a desperate, pleading bridge. Labonte goes on a relentless search for an alternative as he can no longer wait for the love interest in the song in this hard-hitting offering.
A Reason For Me To Fight ups the ferocity, with an erratic sound mix oscillating between full, immersive sound and bare guitar licks confined to one channel that also pan drums all over the place. This effectively depicts a sense of jumpiness, like a boxer hopping in anticipation in a ring.
The lyrics about how sheer will makes a promise ‘to get through’ come true are backed by a pop-influenced, winding melody and a euphoric guitar duel that provides a spiritual, almost-choral climax before smashing at the end.
Victory Lap unfortunately doesn’t feel quite as triumphant as its title, with the return of the demonic growl. After a few tracks including the all-conquering Fiat Empire, the brutish Tru-Kvlt-Metal screeches and hurls at its imaginary enemies as if in a brawl-like death pit.
Criticism And Self Realization is reflective as expected, taking a deep breath as Labonte ponders what is left. Campy glam metal influences are apparent in the musically succulent arrangement, with uplifting guitars battling it out once last time. It’s such a good moment that listeners will object to the fact that it fades out to slow, sad piano and static that end the album almost the way it began.
All That Remains’ first album in three years mostly combines energy, pain and musical highs, though the musical demons can be a bit much.