Released: 2013, Suicidal Bride Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
As attention grabbers go, you can't get that much more effective than naming your album – or, in this case, EP – something like Fucktropolis. It certainly makes one sit up and take notice. But a clever title will only get you so far, and if you're resorting to it to polish a turd of a record, well then you've still got a turd on your hands.
Edmonton's All Else Fails don't have a turd with their fourth release, but Fucktropolis certainly could stand for some more polish. Or something. The five-track EP – with a throwaway sixth “bonus” track of 25 seconds of sampling shenanigans - blends metal/metalcore, emo and industrial stylings into a busy mishmash that can't quite decide what direction it ultimately wants to go. The core of the quartet's “core,” as it were, is a bit mushy and unfocused as they try too many things instead of sticking to doing a few things well.
Case in point, the final track, “Most Unwanted Reprieve,” which starts off cool enough with an AFI-like punkiness – when they still had some punk left in them, but that's another story - with its bracing guitars and “Woah, oh, oh!” backing vocals, then goes goth/symphonic metal for a stretch before giving way to deathcore chug. Huh? Opener “AntiMartyr,” too, sounds like three or four songs in one.
The intermittent clean vocals and keyboards/electronics, especially on the otherwise ass-ripping “Obedience At The Altar of Sacrifice,” seem superfluous and unnecessary in almost every instance. I realize that's what the kids are diggin' these days, but All Else Fails are much more effective when they just kick out the jams, even when they get a bit breakdown happy.
Barrett Klesko's tough-guy bellow is certainly commanding enough to stand on its own and the electronic twiddling merely gets in the way of the otherwise gnashing guitars. And with his occasional fusillades of double-bass and fleet fills, drummer Shane Tym seems itching to really go apeshit here only to end up being held back. Next time, they should just let him loose.