Released: Feb 24, 2015
Genre: Melodic Metalcore
Label: Razor & Tie
Number Of Tracks: 12
Now showing direct interest in being melodic metalcore, "The Order of Things" has All That Remains watering down their strengths.
The Order Of ThingsFeatured review by: UG Team, on february 27, 2015 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Akin to how Dave Mustaine split with Metallica early into the band's lifespan (quite easily the toughest of luck) but rebounded into his own successful metal band Megadeth, All That Remains was frontman Phil Labonte's parlay after parting ways with Shadows Fall. And while of course Shadows Fall would proceed to release great albums like "The War Within" and "The Art of Balance," All That Remains would give us great albums as well, like "This Darkened Heart" and "The Fall of Ideals," so not only did Labonte land on his feet finely, but this mitosis benefitted metalheads more than anything (what's better than one impressive metal band?).
As All That Remains progressed, though, their desire to broaden their sound from melodeath has left those that still rock their early albums disappointed, most notably in 2008's "Overcome," which started to move the band towards metalcore territory (no wonder the death metal kin got upset). Though the metalcore elements still stuck around, one could see that All That Remains wanted to re-buff their death metal side. 2010's "...For We Are Many" touted direct influences from the pioneer age of metal, and 2012's "A War You Cannot Win" brought back some early-era style songs of theirs, as well as putting extra emphasis on lead guitarist Oli Herbert (arguably the band's biggest asset throughout their lifespan), to appease the dissatisfied fans of yesteryear.
Though they could still pull off melodeath well, it was more evident that All That Remains weren't interested in being exactly the same as they were a decade ago, and that observation is further enforced with their seventh album, "The Order of Things." By and large, the album has the band composing with the A-Day-To-Remember-esque strategy of melodic metalcore, where topline melodies are top priority. Labonte's growls are even more endangered in this album - only getting a spotlight in the shallow metalcore cuts "No Knock" and "Pernicious," as well as "Criticism in Self Realization" - and being 98% to 100% absent in half of the songs on the album. And while that lacking of harsh vocals is already a recipe to aggravate the melodeath-era All That Remains fans, it's not universally abysmal. In fact, it allows the band to get more harmonious, having bassist Jeanne Sagan sing alongside Labonte often (even taking the lead in the bridge of "Pernicious"), and the unity of male/female clean vocals is a satisfying new characteristic to see.
On the contrary to that, the other ways "The Order of Things" tries to build itself to hold its own against its new peers of melodic metalcore are just the strengths All That Remains were known for already. The glory-days sound of the band is relived in tracks like "Tru-Kvlt-Metal" and "Bite My Tongue" (which even contains a jazzy interlude that calls back to the "The Fall of Ideals" track "Six"), and Herbert still manages to throw in a hearty guitar solo into nearly every song (though that's par for the course for All That Remains).
But with the band wanting to shape their sound into something more widely accessible, they inevitably have to water down those strengths, leading to very pedestrian metal cuts like "Divide," "Victory Lap," and the acoustic metal ballad "For You," which follows the same mold as tracks from earlier albums, like "A Song for the Hopeless" or "What If I Was Nothing." Herbert tries to do his part with his lead melodies in "This Probably Won't End Well," "The Greatest Generation" and "A Reason for Me to Fight," but they have to be back-seated for Labonte's toplines - a tradeoff that hurts more than it helps. // 5
Lyrics: In the past couple of albums, Labonte has found his three essential topics to fuel his lyrics, all of which make up "The Order of Things": heartache, political issues, and calling out those early-era All That Remains fans that don't like the direction the band is going musically. With the last of those three topics being the most recent of subjects, Labonte's still having fun rubbing his band's overt success in the faces of his decriers - from shouting "here's to you and your favorite band, yeah they suck too" in "Victory Lap" to criticizing the unwitting conformity of the underground metal scene in "True-Kvlt-Metal." But as entertaining and topical as these antagonistic songs may be, it's a style that wears out its welcome quickly. On the other hand, with his songs of heartache like "This Probably Won't End Well" and "For You," they feel no more than echoes of the handfuls of heartache songs Labonte has written before (who knows, maybe they were in fact extra sets of lyrics left out of "Overcome").
With political issues, Labonte has been getting more direct in his views with each album, and it further shows here. Taking another track to speak of his reverence for his forefathers in "The Greatest Generation in the World," he pairs that ode to legendary work ethic with voicing his disdain for the current economic practices in "Fiat Empire" ("Keynesianism, live the lie/trapped in this prison, destroying lives"). He also shows his support for the armed forces deployed overseas in "A Reason for Me to Fight," as well as "No Knock," which literally paints a military suppression scene ("bust through like a battering ram/flash bang first gives us the upper hand/room by room, we're death incarnate tonight/take 'em while they're sleeping, they won't put up a fight"). Though it may be intended to try and be music made for the U.S. Marines to pump themselves up with, it's more likely to just be another song teens listen to while playing "Call of Duty." // 6
Overall Impression: It's common to see a metal band that started on the heavy side of the spectrum get ridiculed for delving into less-aggressive music, and All That Remains have expressed how fine they are continuing to move in the sonic direction they're moving in. But while fighting to try winning back their old fans isn't their problem here, the real problem with "The Order of Things" is that it puts the band between a rock and a hard place. Majorly committing to melodic metalcore, the need to subdue the band's melodeath roots damages the full potential of the album, and the new raison d'être to be "catchy metal" has the band throwing their hat into a crowded and homogenized ring. Ultimately, this investment in a different sound doesn't pay off. // 5
The Order Of Things
thrashriff90, on march 02, 2015 4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: One of the most polarizing vocalists among fans of the metal/hard rock scene right now, is none other than Phil Labonte. Phil has always been a politically outspoken individual. Which makes it difficult for some reviewers to overlook his opinions and give his band's efforts a fair shake when it is judged for quality (I'm looking at you Metalsucks). Whether you agree or disagree with Phil's views, I just want everyone to understand I'm not here to write an editorial about Phil Labonte and his ideological points of view. I'm here to review his group's latest album, "The Order of Things."
"The Order of Things" is in some aspects, a vast departure from All That Remains melodic death metal classics, "This Darkened Heart," and "The Fall of Ideals." It does share a lot similarities with their modern metal classic, "For We Are Many" in terms of accessibility, although "For We Are Many" had a fantastic mix of styles that made it both an accessible enough album for casual metal fans to enjoy, and at the same was quite experimental and was composed well enough to appeal to committed metal enthusiasts. Unfortunately, "The Order of Things" caters mostly to casual metal fans and active rock radio listeners, which alienates the more die-hard metal fans. Clean vocals are a dominant presence in "The Order of Things." Phil's trademarked punchy screams are very sparse and his low-pitched guttural death growls are unfortunately absent. The screaming that is present for the most part, is used to complement the singing, which disappointed me to a degree. I found Phil's clean singing to be a little annoying at times. Continuing a trend from "A War You Cannot Win," some of the rhythm guitar work can come across as a little underwhelming as well. As you listen, you'll find a lot of elements in the guitar attack that is reminiscent of '80s pop metal and hard rock, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes. At times the rhythm riffs are designed to be very percussive and simple in nature, which has always been present in their music and isn't necessarily a negative quality, as it adds a lot of aggression and punchiness to the drumming, but could be perceived a little boring to those who don't like frequent chuggy riffs. I may be a little biased in this regard as I've always preferred the more the technically proficient riffs and wonderfully colorful song structures from the albums that came before "A War You Cannot Win."
Now, don't get me wrong are a few songs in this album that do remind remind me of their melodic death metal past. The poorly titled "This Probably Won't End Well," actually features pretty delicious riffage. "Tru Kvlt Metal," which while I thought was a missed opportunity to create a deadly song in the vein of "The Weak Willed" and "Dead Wrong" that could knock down even the most staunch of metal purists, but failed, still managed to deliver some colorful riffs. The lead guitar presence from Oli Herbert is as strong as ever. His solos never disappoint, and deserve much more recognition that he actually receives. The guy could be a virtuoso is his own right. I would love to listen to him tackle other styles of music. Mike Martin who is a tight rhythm player, always does a great job of complimenting Oli's solos with great harmonies. The clean guitar presence is wonderful and very detailed. Jason Costa, another very talented musician who is overlooked often, delivered another good performance, while not as strong as previous performances, still managed to shake things up. There isn't a bad musician in this band, the rhythm section has always kept it neat and tight. While Phil somewhat disappointed me with the lack of screamed vocals he made up for it by giving Jeanne a chance to shine in both "Divide" and "Pernicious" on clean vocals. Together they both create beautiful harmonies that sound more authentic than Phil layering harmonies together with his own voice. // 7
Lyrics: While this album was a marked improvement over their last, I still find myself questioning Phil's lyrical decision making in some of these songs. It's strange at how much worse his writing has gotten over the past few years, as it used to be pretty good. This album suffers from much of the same problems as its predecessor "A War You Cannot Win." I suppose Phil is dumbing down his writing in an effort to appeal to the active rock radio audience, which I have to admit, is attracting more listeners and revenue, but in the process it is also hurting the overall quality of the music in the long run. His writing in "Tru Kvlt Metal," which could have been a great piece of social commentary in regards to the metal community, came across as silly. A song that focused more on his past relationships, such as "This Probably Won't End Well" was also quite lacking lyrically. I've always enjoyed ATR's political songs, but I found myself disliking the writing in "No Knock." I understand where Phil was trying to accomplish with this song, but what could have been a great piece of political commentary regarding the militarization of the police, and the lack of respect for property rights and privacy in the United States, ended up falling flat due to silly lyrics such as "I'm f--king superman, so come over and check my plan."
Not all of the pieces suffered from the handicap of terrible writing. "Divide" did a good job of combining accessibility with quality. Where "Tru Kvlt Metal" failed, "Victory Lap" succeeded. "The Epic Criticism" and "Self Realization," which was the focal point of the album in my opinion, along with "Pernicious," featured strong writing. // 6
Overall Impression: After the first listen, I can say that I actually found a lot of things to enjoy about All That Remains latest musical statement, and at the same time, some big drawbacks. For those of you who identify yourselves as "metal purists," or dislike melodic metal and heavy rock, I suggest you avoid listening to this album. Anyone who doesn't fall within these categories, I suggest you give the album a try, there might be a few songs in this release that you enjoy. I will warn everyone that "The Order of Things" is a far cry from ATR's earlier releases. "The Fall of Ideals," "This Darkened Heart," and the extremely underrated "For We Are Many" greatly overshadow the "Order of Things" in terms of quality. I found this album to be a definite improvement over the generic, bro-metal, boredom trip that was "A War You Cannot Win." I would personally rate this piece of work closer to 2008's metalcore-heavy "Overcome." It's an above average album with its share of advantages and disadvantages. While it pales in comparison to their best releases, it does makes for a fun listen if you're looking for something different to listen to at work or on the road. // 7
The Order Of Things
demonhunter2211, on march 03, 2015 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: All That Remains are one of those bands that still rightfully stick to the 2000's "metalcore" sound, a genre that has had it's definition change over the years, but still pull it off really well. The follow up to 2012's subpar "A War You Cannot Win," "The Order of Things" kind of changes things up for the band not with musical style, but with how Labonte approaches the record with his vocals. The whole time I was mainly focused on his (and the surprisingly wonderful harmonies done by their female bassist Jeanne Sagan) vocals. The first half of the album is almost entirely done with clean vocals (besides the #2 track "No Knock," which is done entirely with screams), making you think this record is almost entirely screamless, but the latter half of the record proves that thinking wrong with some old-school metalcore riffs and breakdowns, and it's honestly the best second-half they've had since "The Fall of Ideals." The band lets out some awesome heavy riffs and breakdowns with Labonte's classic "moos" making a return on a song or two. The riffs by Oli Herbert and Mike Martin are techincal and catchy as hell and Herbert's solos outmatch "AWYCW" by a longshot. This album isn't their heaviest, but it perfectly blends all the technical riffs and harmonic vocals along with some thundering drums and powerful chugging. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics on this record are mostly relationship based and kind of just straight up awful. I'm not much of a lyric guy myself, as in I don't really care what the lyrics are about as long as it's not devil worshipping or Atilla/BrokenCyde-like, but the lyrics on this album can honestly just be ignored. They're nothing you'll be remembering as I can't think of a single memorable line that didn't stand out as stupid, such as "I'm f--king superman, so come on over and check my plan" and "I'm just a lonely guy drinking alone tonight." // 3
Overall Impression: Stand out tracks:
"Pernicilous" - which brings back some good ol' 2000's metalcore feels with nostalgic chugging and some of the record's best riffs.
"Fiat Empire" - it makes you think it's going to be a slow song, but picks up the tempo and gets heavier and heavier and turns into a full-out metalcore riff-fest, and then gets slow again and picks up again. Truly one of their best songs yet.
"Tru Kvlt Metal" - one of the record's heaviest songs with tons of Labonte screams and probably the best solo on the record. Also, "MOOS"!
"Criticism and Self Realization" - a 7:04 epic that has everything you could possibly want in a metalcore song. It's heavy, it's beautiful, has instrumental parts, and a perfect ending to the record.
Trivium's "Vengeance Falls" is a great album to compare this one too, as they both don't have a lot of screaming like usual, but make it up with awesome riffs and terrific singing and screaming when necessary. This album is essentially everything that "AWYCW" should've been, as it truly displays the best of the band's abilities. You can just tell that the band really gave it their all with this record, despite it not being as heavy as some of you would like it to be. The pace of the album is great and the track placement couldn't be better. There's only one true ballad, which is honestly the worst song on the album. It has fantastic riffs, great vocals, awesome musicianship by everyone in the band, and a true production effort. Pick this one up, or give it a listen on Spotify. // 8