All That Remains - The Fall of Ideals
All That Remains - The Fall of Ideals Prosthetic Records - 2006 It would be silly to suggest Massachussetts neo-thrashers All That Remainsâ€™ approach to songwriting changed over the years due to their need for creative growth. Founding guitarist Oli Herbert and longtime guitarist Mike Martin are professional players in the true sense of the term; students seek them out to be taught how to play styles aplenty, but mostly metal, for obvious reasons. And since delivering a very public guitar-playing lesson on their 2002 debut Behind Silence and Solitude, they have become more conscious songwriters in the albums since, and more sensitive with the use of such tactics as suspense and release. So without a doubt, All That Remains now go much easier on the relentless picking and guitar wizardry for the purpose of appealing to the masses, or for now at least, settling for part of the masses; 2006 stints on Ozzfest and direct support for DragonForce on the international circuit, along with The Fall of Ideals debuting on the Billboard 200, all show that their strategy is working. Dumbing down oneâ€™s sound as a band is risky business. The band can alienate old fans, make no new ones, and owe the label a lot of money. Or, the more infrequent occurrence can take place, with old fans remaining loyal and new ones pouring on board. The latter implies a band has succeeded with retaining part of the original sound while incorporating accessible new elements to give the songs wider appeal. On The Fall of Ideals, All That Remains succeed in making heavy music that lots of metal fans seem to be enjoying, which naturally puts them atop the heap of the new wave of American heavy metal alongside Shadows Fall, God Forbid, Killswitch Engage, Unearth, and some of the more bland and homogenous bands like As I Lay Dying, Trivium, and (new) Lamb Of God. Some will debate my classification of the above bands, which is fine. So while All That Remains may be one of the less persistently creative or progressive of the Billboard-landing new wave bands, they write memorable songs with enough parts of every style to please both the fickle and accommodating fan alike. If former Shadows Fall vocalist Phil Labonte began discovering his range of delivery on the bandâ€™s 2003 album This Darkened Heart, he demonstrates his stunning new voices with greater ease than before. His emotive croon is more organic than the previous album, and the listener is sure to hear it quickly, with Labonte following up a thrash intro/verse in album opener This Calling with a powerful chorus chant that lodged itself in memory upon the first listen. And because of the aggressive tempos and flashy solos and leads predominate throughout the song, enjoying the songâ€™s harmonies brings no shame, unlike when listening to childish fashioncore bands. It seems wherever he uses the most melody, like in the chorus of standout track Whispers (I Hear Your), not only does he contrast it with ample throat-shredding to rival genre-leaders Jesse Leach (Seemless, formerly Killswitch Engage) and Howard Jones (we all know who; at least the young female fans do), but the band steps it up with enough appealing riffs and machine-gun drums to toughen the material even further. Part doom, part thrash, and part death, the albumâ€™s halfway point The Weak Willed remains extreme and void of vocal hooks for most of its duration, contrasting with the wild fluctuations dominating much of the material on The Fall of Ideals. Like listening to listen to their debut album after having heard their new material, the straightforward, two-dimensional nature of this song encourages comparison to the bandâ€™s other (and far superior) material, making one appreciate how far they have come all the more. Cries of copycat and lacking creativity, if such criticism indeed comes flooding in now accusing All That Remains of conforming to the typical hard/soft metalcore formula, should be directed in the direction of bands that are much less convincing in pulling the style off than these guys. While it canâ€™t be denied that the success of double-bass hogs The Black Dahlia Murder, As I Lay Dying, Lamb Of God likely influenced All That Remains in their acquisition of new drum beast Shannon Lucas to speed up the new material and leave behind the sometimes self-indulgent, chorus-reliant approach the band took on This Darkened Heart. However, they have integrated this new element into the songwriting from the ground up, bringing back some of the hostility and technicality that early fans enjoyed on Behind Silence and Solitude. Lucas makes a notable difference on all the new songs, but his penchant for versatility and speed are best heard on The Weak Willed, Six, Empty Inside, and This Calling. The Fall Of Ideals is All That Remainsâ€™ most researched and determined stab at the prize thus far in their eight-year-old existence. The sound on it is definitely made for big venues, but the songs themselves arenâ€™t missing much in the way of substance, so let them explode all they want.