ALL THAT REMAINS – MADNESS
Release Date: April 28th, 2017
All That Remains‘ 2015 release The Order of Things was the first album of theirs to really impress me since 2010’s For We Are Many. I guess I could say they were an every other album kind of band starting with their 2006 breakthrough album The Fall of Ideals. What I liked about The Order of Things was they started dropping a few metalcore clichés and added some alternative and traditional metal to make for some much needed texture in their sound. This year – last week to be exact – All That Remains released Madness. I hope you came prepared for even more changes to the band’s sound.
All That Remains starts off Madness with Safe House, which is a pretty standard metalcore tune. Just the kind of tune some people would probably expect to be on an ATR album. It is a killer metalcore track though. The vocals sound more fierce than just about anything from the band’s past few albums and it’s easily one of the best songs of the genre I’ve heard in years. Of course the glory days of metalcore are a good few years in the past now so that’s not saying too much.
The changes that will shock fans start with the title track to Madness which adopts an industrial metal sound. You read that correctly. All That Remains frontman Philip Labonte stated before the album came out that the majority of the album features “significant programming and electronic sounds.” On some songs these elements are hidden, for instance they are present during Safe House, but you may not notice them on first listen. The title track’s less intense but still heavy sound leaves more room for the ears to pick up such electronic elements and I actually do feel like the song works. I was more surprised to read about the electronic change than I was to hear it.
The intro to Halo also has a more prominent presence of “programming and electronic sounds,” particularly in the songs introductory riff, which I quite like. The song itself has an full epic sound with a bit of a metalcore identity but staying a little more in the heavy metal category. Nothing I Can Do also sees All That Remains taking a more traditional heavy metal sound to the Madness album and doing a fine job at it.
Fans and listeners familiar with All That Remains will have to brace themselves before listening to If I’m Honest. This isn’t even a heavy metal song but rather an upbeat rock song. For All That Remains this is very weird territory, something that more than a handful of metal bands have done in the past which has rarely if ever worked out for any of them. However, as a song on its own, forgetting the name of the band recording it, this is a great song. It’s unfortunate but I know very few people will appreciate this song the way I do.
The exact same thing can be said about Far From Home. I warned you that Madness had some changes, and the most drastic change is that it has not one, but two upbeat rock songs. Think Stone Sour but their smoother side. Back To You is also relatively uncharted territory for All That Remains in how it remains acoustic and smooth all the way through with a bit of added orchestration. This one could fit on just about any of All That Remains’ recent albums because of the dark undertone the music has to it. Unfortunately it could also fit on such albums because if fails to really produce a hook and ultimately will probably be one of the first songs I forget from the album.
Speaking of failing to have a hook, Madness does feature a small portion of other songs that could be easy to forget quickly. Fortunately the number of such songs is far fewer than most of All That Remains‘ other seven albums. The first of these songs would be the other true metalcore song on the album Open Grave, and that’s really just because as previously mentioned, metalcore music, even by some of the genres past masters, has gotten bland lately and this is no exception. The guitar solo does happen to perhaps be the best on the entire album though. Louder and Trust and Believe both prove to be good listens, but when thinking about Madness and its tracks, I typically forget that these two exist.
Songs like River City and Never Sorry, which border hard rock and heavy metal, are two more examples of this daring step the band has taken. Both of these tracks are pretty much unlike anything All That Remain has ever done, and yet they prove to be two of the best tracks on Madness. Despite all of the surprises that have been handed to us listeners, none have been as audacious as the Garth Brooks cover that finishes the album off. The Thunder Rolls is one of those songs I didn’t realize I knew, but ATR turn this outlaw country classic into quite the memorable hard rock moment, making the song even more badass, more than doing it justice.
What All That Remains has done with Madness is incredibly bold. A number of things could have gone through the band’s mind when recording the album. Maybe they just wanted to piss off the pessimists, or maybe they just felt they went far enough with metalcore. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that the band isn’t trying to sell out, which I’m positive most people are going to say when they hear Madness. I really don’t think the band is trying to become radio friendly. Usually when bands turn in that direction the music they produce is of very little quality. While I wouldn’t call Madness a great album, I won’t deny the quality put in to most of the tracks. They also end the “every other album” cycle. The band has evolved and I think it’s for the best and I really hope others see that.
Thanks for reading!
“Nothing I Can Do” – An album this surprisingly diverse makes it a challenge to find one track that would perfectly sum everything up, but this track gives a good idea of the band’s current mindset, even if the passion isn’t quite there.
8 (Out of 10)
|3.||“Nothing I Can Do”||3:41|
|4.||“If I’m Honest”||4:25|
|9.||“Far from Home”||4:05|
|10.||“Trust and Believe”||3:14|
|11.||“Back to You”||3:25|
|13.||“The Thunder Rolls”||4:22|