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Friday, November 21, 2008

CD Review: All That Remains - Overcome

All That Remains - Overcome
2008 Prosthetic Records/Razor and Tie
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Nothing should probably be made of the fact that Adam Dutkiewicz, Killswitch Engage guitarist and producer omniscient, was traded for Jason Suecof, mastermind of Trivium’s rise to fame when it came to do up All That Remains' fourth album, Overcome.

Success begets success, particularly when one producer is as equally respected as his predecessor, but for All That Remains' purposes, their moniker couldn’t have held truer following their breakout third album The Fall of Ideals and This Darkened Heart beforehand. When you’re on a roll, it’s hard to justify changing the script or at least the script handler, but Trivium themselves were without Suecof’s services on their latest album Shogun and that ended up being their most spectacular effort to-date.

All that remained for Phil Labonte and his merry metalcore posse-—which changed bassists on the road in support of The Fall of Ideals to Jeanne Sagan—-was to figure out how the commercial rock-minded Suecof fit into their own ideals as heavy musicians. The answer ends up being largely positive as Overcome is All That Remains' most accessible album in their now-decade-long career.

At times, Overcome sounds close to being primed for FM format rock with pop-laden hooks scattered on the album’s choruses—largely in attendance on “Forever In Your Hands” and “Two Weeks.” Of course, the heaviest wussy FM radio is permitted to get in the interest of maintaining ad revenue is Nickelback and perhaps Accept and Judas Priest during their lunch hour dedication to the old school. Still, you can feel All That Remains pushing the boundaries between extreme metal and mainstream rock throughout Overcome, which is not to say the album isn’t bestial when it wants to be. “Relinquish” is a fierce thrasher upon which Phil Labonte tears his esophagus clean through, while “Do Not Obey” largely rides a pumping throb before fusing clean-sung vocals and melodic down-tempo supplements, bravely taking some of the starch out of the song’s breakdown.

You knew Phil Labonte meant business by the time he drifted from Shadows Fall and started All That Remains. His band follows metal trends just close enough to be hip for the in-crowd, but he doesn’t allow his music to drown in pop metal syrup. Even as his impressive dashes between clean and hard vocals has made him a near-superstar of his genre, Phil Labonte knows when ballady-stuff works (as on the closer “Believe In Nothing” and the quixotic “A Song For the Hopeless,” which may be All That Remains' finest-written tune) and when to turn loose his cannons in the form of Oli Herbert and Mike Martin. As usual, Herbert’s leads are supreme (have a go with the one on “Chiron,” whew) and they help legitimize All that Remains from the scores of flash-in-the-pan posers looking to chomp on their heels. Fortunately for Phil Labonte and his talented troupe, Overcome is miles ahead of the competition.

Rating: ****


All About The Music said...

Awesome review man, Overcome is a killer CD.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

many thanks, amigo! ATR just gets better and better