Massachusetts based Americans ALL THAT REMAINS are back with their eighth studio album Madness, their first release since the 2015 album The Order of Things. While widely received as a very successful band, ALL THAT REMAINS have had their fair share of flak and abuse for their ‘style’ which continuously bends the generic conventions whether it being in classic underground death metal or modernised metalcore.
Madness opens with a relentless force of pounding beats in the primary track of Safe House which is a powerhouse of hooks and riffs and a sure way to get the album kicked off to a strong start. However, the flow is somewhat interrupted as the track fades out and we’re left hearing electrical static noises upon the intro to Madness. This is quickly remedied when the band shifts into gear after a steady drum intro and a heavy, catchy hook is delivered, bombarding the eardrums. However catchy the riff may be, the song seems to be lacking for a title track and is fairly disheartening in its lyrical simplicity. Throughout multiple listens the sound of ALL THAT REMAINS seems to combine with old school FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH as Madness strikes as a song that could easily fit on their 2009 record War Is The Answer.
Just as the album seems to be getting into a smooth flow of style and genre we’re interrupted and surprised again on track number four as the style shifts into a softer ballad type song. Although probably one of the stronger songs on the album, If I’m honest has a very effortless flow with a polished, velvety, blues style solo in-between. However, it really didn’t feel like it belonged on this album and definitely felt like a different band was performing.
This seems to be a consistent feeling on the record, as again after two tracks of classic ALL THAT REMAINS intensity the seventh track River City opens with the ring of a telephone with more electronic sounds as an accompaniment, something that the band seem to be a fan of for this release. The beat of this track is consistent and catchy and most importantly, it’s different! This achieves exactly what ALL THAT REMAINS were aiming for with this album, to challenge and bend the expectations of the listener.
Whilst the album can be said to be lacking in flow and consistency there are definitely strong and powerful moments which will be well received by fans of the band with nods to their classic sound. The song that accomplishes this most notably is probably Open Grave which opens with an epic, throbbing beat accompanied with surges of riffs that only sound better when the lyrics kick in with a catchy chorus to boot. This song gives everything that is expected when thinking of ALL THAT REMAINS and is definitely a standout track on the album.
After punching out seven previous albums and being a largely recognised name, it’s to be expected that ALL THAT REMAINS want to change things up and try new musical recipes to craft their sound. While Madness is a very ambitious record in this sense it seems hard to put a genre label on this album as there are so many stylistic elements with tracks like Back to you and River City sounding like songs that belong to completely different artists and the techno, electronic beats that overpower some other tracks like the intro to Never Sorry. Madness ends leaving more questions than answers and delivering what is stylistically daring but misses the mark on many occasions with generic, simplistic lyrics throughout but will likely be widely received by long time followers of the band and a sure way to get heads banging in a live setting.
Madness is out now via Razor & Tie.
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