All That Remains, ‘A War You Cannot Win’ – Album Review
All That Remains are a polarizing band. Frontman Phil Labonte isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and as the group’s success has increased, so have the haters. ‘A War You Cannot Win’ will have those critics complaining louder than ever, but the album should draw legions of new fans that will embrace ATR’s style.
That style combines elements of metalcore, mainstream metal and hard rock, and ‘A War You Cannot Win’ is probably the band’s most melodic effort. That doesn’t mean there aren’t songs that pack a wallop. The proceedings start aggressively with ‘Down Thru The Ages,’ with Labonte using harsh vocals and a few higher-pitched screams. Clean vocals make their appearance as well, along with a searing guitar solo.
Speaking of guitars, the dual attack of Oli Herbert and Mike Martin is impressive throughout. From darker riffs on songs like ‘A Call To All Non-Believers’ to shredding eighties styles solos, they are on point.
When it comes to radio-friendly accessible songs, ‘A War You Cannot Win’ has a few. If you listen to rock radio, you have heard ‘Stand Up,’ an extremely catchy track. ‘Asking Too Much’ is another future radio hit, very melodic and memorable. The power ballad ‘What If I Was Nothing’ has a Five Finger Death Punch vibe and is an obvious choice for a single.
Those that buy the album after only hearing the radio singles might be turned off by the harsh vocals, but the balance of those styles is what makes All That Remains who they are. The music might be formulaic, but they execute that formula so well it’s hard to hold it against them.
By the last third of the album, there are a few misses. Jason Costa’s drum work gets some nice exposure on ‘Sing for Liberty,’ yet the track itself doesn’t stand out among the rest. They rebound with ‘Not Fading,’ but some momentum is lost with the nondescript acoustic instrumental ‘Calculating Loneliness.’ The tempo cranks back up along with a breakdown or two for the title track, which closes out the album.
‘A War You Cannot Win’ is packed with catchy singles and a polished production from Killswitch Engage’s Adam D. that will appeal to the mainstream. There’s also an ample supply of aggression and heaviness to satisfy metalheads. The combination should make it a very successful album.