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Metalcore, one of several portmanteau genres of the metal world, typically turns me off. Of the many commercial juggernauts the genre has to offer, I’ve often felt repulsed by the overpowering influences of hardcore punk and alternative. When a friend played The Fall of Ideals for me, however, I was intrigued by the obvious melodic death metal influences the band incorporated into their latest release. After picking the album up for myself, the initial attraction I felt soon faded as the dazzle of powerful melodies and ‘get psyched’ lyrics faded.
The Fall of Ideals earned All That Remains number 75 on the Billboard charts and a lot of attention. I was surprised to learn they played last year at Wacken. The album was produced once again by Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage to crystal clarity – for the most part.
Vocalist Phillip Labonte possesses excellent range. Some tracks assault you with guttural death metal growls or raspy screeching. Typical to the formula of most metalcore, Labonte breaks out the baritone to complement those melodious hooks and passionate riffs of the chorus. As cheesy as it is, the songs really are extremely catchy as a result and really resonate. Unfortunately, this aural addiction is short lived as there is not much behind the melodies to draw you back in once they conclude. The only thing drawing you back for another listen is a quick fix of mind numbing harmony.
Guitars on The Fall of Ideals are powerful and fast, yet despite the technical prowess of the guitarists, remain generic and uninspiring metalcore fare. Both guitarists play well off one another for excellent results. The painfully short leads in various parts of the album left me aching for more, but the majority of the songs failed to deliver satisfactorily. When most metal albums drown out the bass in their cacophony, it is refreshing when they are clear and distinct as on this album. The drums are also well done. Many songs make good use of blast beats for more metal influences, but the over use of bass drums tends to nullify many of the cymbals and other portions of drumming. Listening to the album on my Sony MDR-V6 headphones allowed me to pick up what sounded muffled over my speakers or in my car.
Lyrics seem standard for a metalcore album. Self-empowerment and a general sense of 'getting psyched' pervade, but there are also the, dare I say, more emo passages of whiny clichés and deep feelings. While this fits the style of play mostly, I still fight back rising bile when I hear "I see her in my dreams / Wish she was not there," or "Just want to feel again."
All That Remains stands out in the mediocre sea of metalcore releases as it draws more from metal influences like dual harmonizing and blast beats. What props it up above that crowd, however, rests on a flimsy foundation. Once you recover from the initial explosion of baritone melodies and enticing musical arrangements of The Fall of Ideals, you’ll find little remains to fill the void. Despite the negative aspects of the album, most metal fans, no matter their loyalties, should find something to interest them if only briefly.