Tuesday, May 2, 2017

All That Remains - Madness (2017)

This is a fitting album title for the Americans of All That Remains, because it feels like they are completely lost right now, going through everything and nothing all at once. For each album released, the band have leaned more and more towards a very mainstream friendly sound, but they are still clinging on to that corest of metalcore that once made them famous. So with one foot in the past, and one in the present, they take on the future with their 8th studio record.

Knowing what the band has done in the last couple of albums, I expected failure from the start, but "Madness" opens up in a surprisingly strong way. Okay, "Safe House" is pretty meaningless metalcore screaming for three and a half minutes, but it is a heavy start with some really nice instrumentation, almost resembling more of a hardcore sound even. The title track follows, and it has some interesting moments, being decently catchy. However, it is the third song "Nothing I Can Do" that really catches my attention, mostly thanks to the mysterious keyboard during the verse and Phil Labonte almost trying to do his best Tommy Giles Rogers impression. I would have loved it if they took those elements even further, but they did not, settling for a fairly safe chorus and a typical song structure. Still, a really nice song that ends a surprisingly good three song start. Shout out also to song 5 "Halo", classic ATR that I wished we heard more of.

After that though, the album plummets towards the depths of mainstream despair, and the schizophrenia symptoms are fully shown. "Madness" consists of a total of 13 songs, in which at least 3 are straight up generic ballads (which in my opinion is at least 4 too many). I will never understand what the purpose is with these songs being in a metal album, they just take up space. They are even worse here, displaying as one end of the giant spectrum that All That Remains plays in this album. There is literally no consistency to be found here, and it does not help when the lyrics are so shallow and dumb, almost at an embarrassing level.

It is certainly a shame, because it feels like the band is trying to go for a new approach. They have been stomping in the same spot for quite a few albums now, so to hear them doing something different is refreshing in one way, but when the quality is not improved, then it just does not matter all that much. There are so many songs that are just bare bones, having no creative meat in them what so ever, and the few songs that are of any worth are unfortunately few in number, not nearly enough to save the album. So even if "Madness" is different from its brethren, the result is more or less the same still.

I am not gonna say that I am surprised over the bland quality of this record, I more or less expected it to be this poor, but the fact that the band still has not fully decided on if they are a full on metalcore band or a more radio friendly rock band is simply mind boggling, like they want to keep all of their fans by doing everything at once. It just does not work that way. Even if I appreciate that they are trying to evolve, they are doing it without any real focus, with little quality to back it up. My hopes are still with this band that they can come back with a new killer record, but that hope is fading in a steady pace, as steady as their decline. So good marks for effort, but the originality and general quality still needs improvement.

Songs worthy of recognition: Halo, Nothing I Can Do

Rating: 4,5/10 Open Graves


More reviews of All That Remains
A War You Cannot Win
The Order of Things

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