For Fans Of
The generation of metalcore bands to which All That Remains belong is at an interesting crossroads after more than a decade of development. Many bands have released what most would consider their best work, and now they must either adapt to a changing landscape of metal, or fall into a spiral of recycling the sound they so successfully represented.
‘A War You Cannot Win‘ contains everything you’d expect from a good metalcore album; empowering anthems like ‘Stand Up‘ contrasted with heavier, more technical moments like ‘Sing for Liberty‘, and even the halfway acoustic interlude in the form of ‘Intro‘. However, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, which is vital at this stage of the band’s career.
The political undertones of the lyrics are hard to avoid, and if they’re not as piercing and clever as they could be, they are at least consistent. The vocal performances, on the other hand, are incredibly diverse. Opening track ‘Down Through the Ages‘ allows Philip Labonte to show off his range, which bears a strong resemblance to former Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones. It’s therefore unsurprising that Labonte was chosen as Killswitch Engage‘s touring vocalist in 2010.
Adam Dutkiewicz‘s production for the album is generally impressive, especially in the guitar department. The separation in the mix between bass and guitars is masterfully achieved, and the only place the production falls flat is in the somewhat stale and clinical drums. They lack the personality that would take this album up a notch on the quality scale.
There’s nothing wrong with the album, it’s just not particularly striking. The scorching guitar solos stand up against the best players out there, but they don’t add a great deal to a well-trodden sonic territory. The best way to describe the album is solid yet derivative, and they’re deriving from their own sound rather than exploring new ideas.
‘A War You Cannot Win’ is not groundbreaking; most of the ideas can be traced without difficulty to moments in the group’s back catalogue, as well as those of their peers. It is well executed, however, and this makes it an enjoyable listen.
1. Down Through the Ages
2. You Can’t Fill My Shadow
3. Stand Up
4. A Call to All Non-Believers
5. Asking Too Much
7. Just Moments in Time
8. What If I Was Nothing
9. Sing for Liberty
10. Not Fading
11. Calculating Loneliness
12. A War You Cannot Win