Released: 2006, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Up until the release of their new album, THE FALL OF IDEALS, All That Remains’ biggest claim-to-fame was that vocalist Philip Labonte used to front Shadows Fall but left before they hit it big (Pete Best can surely sympathize). Well, that is about to change as the improvements made over 2004’s metalcore-to-the-bone THIS DARKENED HEART album are immense. Labonte’s generic roars and shrieking rasp have been augmented with a soothing clean vocal and ultra-low guttural belching that are major additions to the band’s sound. Also, drummer Mike Bartlett has been replaced by the vastly superior Shannon Lucas, whose execution of tactfully-used double bass and full-throttle fills and rolls are enhanced by the beefy production of Killswitch Engage’s Adam Dutkiewicz. Along with Dutkiewicz’s perfectionist ear and heavier-than-thou knob-twiddling, ex-Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers handles the engineering of the album, so everything sounds crisp, clear and delivers a rock-solid punch. It should be noted, as well, that because two guitarists are behind the sound, it is no coincidence that Mike Martin and Oli Hebert receive the royal treatment here. Their lush, gorgeous solos and penetrating riffs go from melodic flourishes to technically-impressive runs that have yet to be heard from the band. Since well-played music with immediately catchy hooks is as good as money in the bank, THE FALL OF IDEALS should take All That Remains to the upper levels of the metalcore heap with Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying and, of course, Shadows Fall.
With more hooks than a fishing tackle shop, “This Calling” drips with a stunning chorus that gets ingrained in your mind immediately. Labonte’s evenhanded use of harsh and clean vocals is very effective and the melodic guitars encourage plenty of head-bobbing. A quick but soaring solo mixes with Lucas’s booming, rapid-fire double bass for the perfect balance of aggression and tunefulness. The progressive dual guitar flourish that opens “Not Alone” paves the way for staccato riffs that showcase the improved musicianship of Hebert and Martin over the last album. “It Dwells In Me” and “We Stand” (don’t miss the blistering guitar solo!) follow a similar pattern and it is here that the main fault of THE FALL OF IDEALS emerges: many of the tracks follow a similar pattern, almost as if a template was laid out and the band filled in the blanks. Labonte’s increased use of clean vocals find him hitting the same notes and vocal patterns in the choruses and the first half of the album sees one track bleed into the next. It is not until the sixth track—“The Weak Willed”—that this pattern is broken. Lucas’ double bass intro leads into a vicious death metal gurgle from Labonte that would make a throat-shredder like Erik Rutan or Glen Benton stand up and take notice. As a result, Labonte really shines and shows just how versatile a vocalist he has become but this angle is never explored again on the album. On “Six,” a blasting intro is overwritten by a quiet middle section and a slick guitar solo to mix things up but the chorus of “The Air That I Breathe” bears such a striking similarity to Slipknot’s “Before I Forget” that one has to wonder just how many styles All That Remains is trying to encompass. “Empty Inside” is a throwback to the more generic metalcore being flogged by every band under the sun these days and certainly more of the sound found on THIS DARKENED HEART than where the band seems to be circa 2006.
THE FALL OF IDEALS will be the biggest-selling album for All That Remains, guaranteed. Everything is in place here for a breakthrough album and given the intensive touring the band has undertaken over the last two years, they probably deserve a little recognition. Musically, this album is an improvement by leaps and bounds over THIS DARKENED HEART, so the band has certainly done their homework in regards to writing and playing. Unfortunately, a sense of familiarity weighs down the album halfway through and it never fully recovers. Consider THE FALL OF IDEALS a means to and end and congrats to the band members for crafting a killer CD but what they need to do next is work on the strengths they have found rather than settle into a safe comfort zone and expect to coast through an album on their laurels, especially with so many other metalcore bands nipping at their heels.
KILLER KUTS: “This Calling,” “Not Alone,” “We Stand,” “The Weak Willed,” “Six,” "Empty Inside”