All That Remains - This Darkened Heart (Prosthetic Records)
By: Justin Donnelly
After splitting with Massachusetts (Boston) act Shadows Fall following the release of their debut Sober Eye To The Sky in 1998 (Released through Lifeless Records) vocalist Phillip Labonte soon set out to put together a new band in All That Remains.
Although beset by continual line up changes, All That Remains did finally manage to hold onto a solid group core long enough to record and release their debut outing Behind Silence And Solitude in 2002. But while the album was a welcome return of Labonte behind the microphone, it was inconsistent at best.
Now returning with yet another new line up (Comprising of Labonte, guitarists Oli Herbert and Mike Martin, bassist/pianist Matt Deis and drummer Michael Bartlett) and their sophomore effort This Darkened Heart (Produced, engineered and mixed by Killswitch Engage’s Adam Dutkiewicz), All That Remains have finally delivered what many knew the band were capable of, but had yet to deliver in the studio.
Although primarily rooted deep within the metalcore genre (You could say that they sound like a cross between Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall), All That Remains have managed to dodge the standard clichés that the over saturated scene usually belches up, with ten tracks that shows the musical ability of the band members (Beyond the by-the-numbers Swedish melodic death metal tribute), and Labonte’s diverse range of screams and melodic sensibilities.
Opening up with an acoustic introduction, ‘And Death In My Arms’ is one of the albums early favourites with some fast paced riffing, Labonte strengthened screams and some incredibly melodic solo work that really shows off the guitarists abilities.
‘The Deepest Gray’ is the first to show an injection of clean vocals from Labonte over a mid paced thrash framework, while ‘Vicious Betrayal’ and the first half of ‘I Die In Degrees’ (Before it slows down and takes a melodic turn) steer more towards melodic death metal terrain.
‘Focus Shall Not Fail’ is by far the albums most varied (Beginning slow, moving to a heavier and faster middle section, and returning to the beginning once again) and experimental tracks with a mix of both clean and aggressive deliveries from Labonte, while the instrumental ‘Regret Not’ seems to be a natural extension of the former as the band move from acoustics to electric in truly memorable melodic fashion.
For the remaining four tracks, All That Remains keep up the same high standard, with the fast paced ‘For Salvation’ and the blindingly heavy closing title track ‘This Darkened Heart’ standing out the most.
All That Remains may be regurgitating the same riffs that everyone else within the metalcore scene, but unlike most, they manage to rearrange them in a fashion that manages to breathe new life into a familiar style. This Darkened Heart is an impressive second album from All That Remains, but I have no doubt that their impending third release will be the one to finally show just what they’re truly capable of.