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Posted on December 29th, 2008 (11:35 am) by Max Wafel

Too metal.

These are all but two simple words to describe the cacophony of metallic sound that the new All That Remains (ATR) resonates with. With the fourth studio album, Overcome, ATR has now changed their sound. Once a band that stood for progressive hardcore, they have transformed into now a metal-core band.

This was a blatant attempt to step into the mainstream spotlight. Additionally, the instruments retain an almost similar twisted flair but it seems there is now a singer endowed with a voice mimicking that of Avenged Sevenfold's. Let me fix that, their singer sounds out of place singing in All That Remains – it’s kind of like walking into a Jazz club on open microphone night to sing something from Cher. The music may sound nice if well executed, but it doesn't seem right and it isn't what people expected. Old ATR fans will remember the brutal guitar riffs and haunting melodies on Overcome. While ATR does continue that, it seems to be tarnished by their lack of finesse and obvious repetitiveness in which they attempt to execute their new sound.

Concerning sound, Overcome was mastered a completely different way than their previous albums. To anyone that does not know what this means, it means that the distribution of different elements of the sound's components (i.e. the instruments and the vocals) were organized to sound different than previous albums. Much like a heavy metal album, little can be heard of the drummer and bassist while much emphasis is put on the guitarists and the vocalist. Possibly a flaw with a flaw, but such a trade-off begs the question, what were they thinking focusing on the weaker elements of their sound? This decision is yet another blunt reminder of the shortcomings of ATR's vocals. On the other hand, Phil Labonte's tighter vocals on this record manage to offset his screaming, drawing energy from that in order to power his clear and more caustically metallic singing. Well done.

Despite its numerous inherent flaws, any steadfast fan of All That Remains will enjoy a few of the progressive steps taken in order to improve the band’s depth. The first song, "Before the damned," accomplishes the well practiced art of drawing the listener in, convincing them that their ears deserve a further thrashing. Sure, it is a humdrum attempt to exploit faithful fans, but it works. Jumping ahead, "Forever in your hands" takes a rather a disturbing stab at a pure metal sound. The vocals are so overworked in this song that I am going to be hard-pressed to respect this band ever again. The same goes for "Days Without;" while this track is a seemingly saner challenge, ATR is still not willing to take the plunge into real metal-core music. Further included in this melodic mess is the final song, "Believe in Nothing." I have a few theories for such a dumbfounded effort to include this song. Perhaps they thought ten songs were too few for a fourth album, and it was thrown together at the last minute. Or perhaps they wanted to create a dismembered perversion of a Disney-esque song that can't sound decent no matter how many times it’s listened to. Regardless of the myriad of myopic rationalizations for including such a song, it is unnecessary (and nauseating) concluding piece.

So far, this review has gravitated towards throwing small stones at the monolith that is All That Remains. Despite my influence, there is a reason why this massive structure will not crumble. Focusing solely on its shorting comings will only lead the reader to believe that the album should be avoided at all costs. Such is not exactly the case. Consider it a movie sequel, sure it had its faults, but you watched it so you could see the further progression of the characters and the plot. Some changes may have surprised or disgusted you, but it was still worthy of attention. ATR's story is analogous to this one. Tracks such as "Chiron", "A Song for the Hopeless", and "Relinquish" reignite enthusiasm for ATR and may convince the listener that amongst a seemingly endless series of flaws, some originality shines through on Overcome. And this originality will surely attract old fans to the more brutal aspects of ATR and new fans to what these guys attempt to accomplish with their “new sound.”

Unfortunately, of all the afflictions possible for a band, ATR's ailment could be considered one of the worst. As peculiar as this may seem, ATR has begun to recursively draw upon itself. The band remains unsure of its new sound and it shows. When self doubt is thrown into the equation, not only does it detract from the overall experience of the music, but it draws from the listener as well. I was an avid fan before I listened to this record, but now I doubt I will intentionally listen to this band again if the current trend continues. I do think that ATR can fine tune many of its kinks but it lacks confidence in this new style. Overcome had its strong points, but there weren’t any spectacular tracks, indicative of ATR's struggle to fit into this new role as a metal-core band. When it really comes down to it, this attempt to step further into the limelight was a step too far by All That Remains.

Track List:

1. Before the Damned (2:50)
2. Two Weeks (4:17)
3. Undone (3:12)
4. Forever In Your Hands (3:36)
5. Chiron (4:24)
6. Days Without (3:11)
7. Song for the Hopeless (4:15)
8. Do Not Obey (3:12)
9. Relinquish (2:51)
10. Overcome (2:38)
11. Believe In Nothing (Nevermore Cover) (2:23)

all that remains
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