All That Remains - The Fall Of Ideals - Prosthetic Records 2006
Running Time: 39:04
I'll be the first to admit that when I heard Phil Labonte was fronting a new band after leaving the media giant that Shadows Fall was becoming just before Of One Blood set them firmly on the path to fame, I expected 2002's Behind Silence And Solitude to be a concerted effort at grabbing the coattails of his former compadres and riding to Ozzfest heaven. While incorrect, Behind Silence... did little in the way of making me stand up and take notice. The same held true for This Darkened Heart, but All That Remains 2004 were making steps toward an original sound. As I've said so often, a band's third album is often a dealmaker/breaker for me. This is another of those situations, and this is The Fall Of Ideals.
Labonte's vocals in "This Calling" show substantial growth from This Darkened Heart, taking him one step further into finding his own voice in the metalcore genre which, as we all know by now, is not that easy to do in the first place. Musically, the song rips and tears, tasteful leads and double-kick mayhem doing battle with crunchy riffwork and soaring choruses. "Not Alone" burls its way through the verses, the band crafting jagged rhythms, but falters once the chorus kicks in. It's almost too tidy, too clipped and expected to land just this side of pretty, which it does. It's a pity, considering the power held in the rest of the song. As much as ATR may have tripped up on "Not Alone", they excel that much higher with "It Dwells In Me" and "We Stand". The former is as perfect a mixture of the heavy and the melodic as you'll hear from Labonte's former band, while "We Stand" sandwiches skillful dual leads between heaping slabs of groove, delivering the sort of urgency that a metalcore band needs today in order to not seem like a shameless parody of the past four years in hard music history. I'd have liked the beginning acoustic/electric strumming of "Whispers (I Hear Your)" to have carried on a bit longer, as too quickly it's bisected by a fairly conventional heavy riff. Not a bad riff, mind, just not on par with what I ATR has delivered thus far on the album. If the band ever wants to mix things up live, an acoustic version of "Whispers..." may just do the trick. When I heard the faux-death vocals that begin "The Weak Willed", I cringed, picturing ATR going down in flames while trying to channel the spirit of Torture Killer. Thankfully, this was not the case, and Phil just happens to have a pretty decent grunt in his repetoire to boot. The driving rhythms of "Six" are soon blindsided by one of the most memorable riffs of The Fall Of Ideals in the punishing chorus, clearing a path for the straight-ahead death of "Become The Catalyst". The strength of All That Remains lies in being able to inject infectious melody (reference the chorus of "Become...") without knocking down the song's metal credibility in the process. "Indictment" brings The Fall Of Ideals to a close with the combustible metal/hardcore mingling that's gotten ATR to where they are today.
As someone admittedly not a fan of most any metal genre that demands prefixes or suffixes in order to maintain validity, I finally see where these guys have been trying to go for the past four-odd years. With The Fall Of Ideals, All That Remains establishes itself among the few who can wear the metalcore tag as a badge of pride.