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All That Remains: The Order of Things

I get the feeling that All That Remains is a band that people love to hate. I think I could find a couple of metal websites that would skewer this new album quickly and mercilessly. Some listeners will probably even criticize the album without listening to it. I won't make that mistake, but—after a careful listen—I will nevertheless fault this album. I'll lay out some of my thoughts, but for those who want the bottom line at the beginning, let me simply say that this is a weak album, one that can be skipped.

When I reviewed the band's last album, the 2012 release A War You Cannot Win, I praised the band's overall talent but complained that the sound was a bit tired. I feel the same way about this album. The guys are good enough musicians, but the sound they create—variations on metalcore—has nothing new to offer. The alternating clean and dirty vocals are not interesting any more. Worse, some of the songs only have clean vocals and seem written solely as radio-friendly singles. Trying to write radio-friendly hits is obviously not inherently problematic, but it can be when a band tries to position itself as an extreme metal core. I was especially dismayed to read Billboard's review stating that this album is some kind of pointed rebuke to the band's haters. Perhaps it is intended as a rebuke, but it's unconvincing. You can call me a hater, but I prefer to be called a shrugger, a listener who walks away, eager for something else.

To some extent, my criticism—pointed though it may be—is in the minority. The single "This Probably Won't End Well," a rather tepid song, is already climbing up the Rock Radio charts. Positive reviews of the album have also appeared in various places, including Billboard Magazine. Good for the guys in All That Remains. Success is elusive, so feel free to enjoy it. Like Nickelback, this band may even flaunt their success, challenging critics to write a chart-topping song. Well, all I can say is enjoy the success and thank your fans for the support. And, most importantly, don't reduce creativity to calling out the so-called "haters." Just write your music and do your thing. Once the music becomes a form of calling people out, then both sides dig in their heels and the feud never ends. I'm thinking of the track "Tru-Kvlt-Metal" (of which, see below), but there are other reasons to think this album may be a bit on the angry side.

Having said all that, I still don't have to like the album. Some of the songs are really pop anthems with only a slightly heavy edge. The vocals on these songs are often clean and whiny and uninteresting. They yearn while they are clean and scold while they are dirty. There are boring ballads and guitar solos that often lean way too heavily on the licks of earlier shredders.

There are heavier tracks, ones that include vocal growls and darker themes (sort of). They aren't bad, but, again, they are steeped in a metalcore style that feels played out. I thought the song "Tru-Kvlt-Metal," apparently a slam on kids (or is it directed at critics?) who take up the metal look and attitudes without really thinking things through. Ultimately, it's an anthem to originality and independence, but one that makes its points by finger-pointing and "you suck!" kind of declarations. Sure, heavy metal has its posers, but most of us were once 14 years old, wearing metal t-shirts, and trying our best to fit in. Why call out potential fans, especially when the so-called unthinking conformists are those most likely to buy an album like this one just because it's popular?

Track Listing:
1. This Probably Won't End Well
2. No Knock
3. Divide
4. The Greatest Generation
5. For You
6. A Reason For Me to Fight
7. Victory Lap
8. Pernicious
9. Bite My Tongue
10. Fiat Empire
11. Tru-Kvlt-Metal
12. Criticism and Self-Realization

Added: March 4th 2015
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 741
Language: english

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