I remember the first time I heard the band. It was in 2008 and the “Overcome” album just dropped. I believe it was their fourth album.
At the time I had no idea how divisive this album was to their existing fan base. I read comments to reviews and YouTube videos that blasted this album.
One fan mentioned how the album is the mass marketed pop washed version of “The Fall of Ideals” (their much loved previous album). And as I type this, I still haven’t listened to the three albums before “Overcome”.
For me, “Overcome” made All That Remains (ATR) accessible and I’ve been a fan since. And ATR had the balls to go with what they believed was right at the point in time.
Because in music when you have public acceptance of your music/certain songs, you start to write similar songs so that the public acceptance remains. Some bands totally change styles while others do it within their style. ATR did it within their style.
Anyway the first track “Before The Damned” started blasting out of my headphones. It’s also by far the most heaviest track.
From 0 to 22 seconds, the snare and palm muted guitar pattern hooks you in straight away. It’s performed by syncopated military precision. Yeah it might sound generic but so did every pedal point riff on albums in the Eighties. And if you go back to the Seventies, a lot of albums had the same blues pedal point boogie going on.
From 22 to 33 seconds, the whole band is now grooving on the intro pattern, however this time the bass drum sounds out the intro riff and the other instruments play something a bit different, like open string melodic leads and what not.
From 34 to 55 seconds the verse rolls around. The riff again is generic but within the context of the song it works and the way the drums and guitars are synchronized is excellent.
But it‘s the Chorus from 56 seconds to 1.07 that seals the deal. I was hooked by how effortlessly ATR changed from the death metal verses to the hard rock arena chorus.
We will still set in motion
Changing of the time
We have not forgotten
We control our lives
Now every review I read blasted Labonte’s clean vocals and how they lacked depth, balls or there was too much auto tune.
Basically they all said that Labonte should not do clean vocals ever in the same way Bruce Dickinson should never attempt screamo/death metal vocals.
Even James Hetfield copped criticism for his vocals on the self titled Metallica album and the Load LP’s. But every artist needs to grow and try new things. These subjective debates is the reason why I love music. You can talk the whole day and night over differing viewpoints.
When I hear a song, I listen to it from a guitar point of view.
Does the song make me want to put down what I am doing and learn it?
And this song does.
Musically it’s excellent.
At 2.04 we get this head banging metal breakdown and the solo begins at 2.09 over that same head banging breakdown riff. The solo is chromatic and diminished, in the same way Randy Rhoads shreds on “Diary Of A Madman”. This concludes at 2.19. It sounds dissonant and atonal.
After two minutes and fifty seconds the song is done. So I listened again and again and again because it’s a lesson on no filler songwriting. It’s also a great lesson in the “Progress Is Derivative” model because the song takes a lot of their influences and puts it all together in an original way.
And the main man behind the guitar is Oli Herbert. A great guitar player, founding member of All That Remains and songwriter who passed away at 44.
Rest In Peace.