All That Remains – The Order of Things (Razor & Tie)Sunday, 22nd February 2015
It’s harder and harder to separate singer Phil Labonte’s middle-school level rants from the content of All That Remains itself. The stirring controversy of how All That Remains “had transcended metal, to being musicians,” amongst other things, served as the last middle finger to a number of fans that had still followed the band over the past few years as they deteriorated from the levels of This Darkened Heart and The Fall of Ideals towards corporation-friendly radio-rock. But to tack on a track like “Tru-Kult-Metal” to The Order of Things only adds insult to injury and truly shows the direction that the band wishes to proceed, despite the album’s wishy-washy nature.
Much like In Flames recent dud Siren Charms, The Order of Things frequently exhibits All That Remains as a band torn about what path to choose. As with AtR’s later albums, there’s one “heavy” track, which usually gets released before the album drops to satiate long-time fans. This time, “No Knock” is the culprit at large, but is such an uninspired clunker with chestbump-inducing lyrics and flat-out bland chugging riffs that Labonte’s usually charged screams can’t save it. As for the rest of the album, there’s the My Chemical Romance-ish ‘heartstring tugging’ “For You” (complete with some female vocals), upbeat rocker “Divide,” and a half-hearted attempt at more traditional AtR material with “Bite My Tongue” and “Pernicious.” The album’s only real “listenable” track is the closing “Criticism and Self Realization,” which takes the band’s heavier past and successfully merges it with more emotive rock direction in a way that doesn’t seem quite as commercially driven.
“Tru-Kvlt-Metal” happens to be the biggest disappointment of the album, but not for the reasons you may think. The band could have used the song to portray a bit of satire and just went all out with an old school track that said, “Hey, we can still do this but choose not to.” Instead, the band chose to water it down with Labonte’s clearly “enhanced” clean vocals and lyrics that could easily apply to what the band is actually doing with their own career. Lines like, “What did you forget all the things that made you standout, run in place, can’t go any farther” seem pretty applicable to All That Remain’s current situation, eh?
For what it’s worth, the band did provide a warning to all listeners with the opening track’s title, “This Probably Won’t End Well.” As a long-time fan, A War You Cannot Win at least had a few tracks worthy of enjoyment, but The Order of Things simply falls flat. As the band continues to flex more commercially viable muscles, such as Labonte’s clean vocals, and deemphasize their “metal” roots, they will have a tough sell in metal circles. Hopefully the mainstream will be more forgiving….