Released: 2005, Combat Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Just when metalcore seems to have run its course and the absolute deluge of nameless, faceless bands threatens to disembowel the scene almost overnight a la the hair metal scene of the late 80s, along comes a band to give us a shake-up: At All Cost. IT’S TIME TO DECIDE, the first release on the resurrected Combat Records (more on that later), certainly possesses the basic undercurrents of a metalcore album but what sets At All Cost apart from the pack is their willingness to experiment and bring in influences that are extremely non-metal. Vocoder effects, Casio keyboards, violins, Spanish guitar, female vocals, spoken word passages, politically-critical lyrics and other surprises blend in with the standard screaming and breakdowns to create what may well be one of the most unique listening experiences I have had this year. Now before things get out of hand here, let me add that “unique” does not always directly translate to mean “good,” and such is the problem here. For whatever reason, At All Cost seems to be a band whose sole purpose is to be as far out there as they can be to leave people scratching their heads. Being quirky for quirky sake just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Mixing those annoying Cher-distorted clean vocals in the chorus with the hardcore barks on “Death To Distraction” somehow works and the melody of this song is actually quite infectious. Unfortunately, it still sounds like a cookie-cutter metalcore track being played alongside a pop radio song. “The Formula” is clearly aimed at The Dillinger Escape Plan crowd and “Right Now,” with its Weezer like vocal melodies could have found its way on to radio if not for the harsh vocals that would scare off any Program Director who wants to keep his cushy job. By the time “Fabricated” hits, the synthesized vocal effects become trying and what started out as unique begins to be overused to the point of annoyance. The bongos and Spanish guitar on “Noches Desesperadas” (that’s “Desperate Nights” for all you not fluent in Espanol) add a refreshing flair at the midway point of the CD as does the intriguing surf-rock “It Burns Black” later on.
There is a real hodge-podge of styles on this CD and At All Cost is really hard to nail down to one particular genre but the groundwork is certainly in the metalcore field. I have to give At All Cost credit for going out on a limb with IT’S TIME TO DECIDE because the hardcore/metalcore crowd is a notoriously fickle bunch whose minds are not exactly open to change. If At All Cost is hoping to infiltrate that market they may be in for a surprise but I could definitely see the shaggy-haired college kids, scenesters or a particularly liberal metalhead getting into this CD.
KILLER KUTS: “Death To Distraction,” “Right Now”