You have to admire A War You Cannot Win’s ability than to do at the very least maybe piss off whoever is listening to it.
That’s a feat bands claim because “bad” is the new “cool” or a statement a pigheaded critic will write. This isn’t so for All That Remains as we genuinely have something where the politics of and around this record are, well, a war you cannot win, both musically and lyrically.
Sonically there are days I’m relieved the radio can tell you who the artist is because I can barely tell death metal band from death metal band or hard rock band from hard rock band. What you have to give All That Remains is at least they will stand out.
I’d entertain an argument that the statement above could not be made in the past- agreeably, some of their older material is whitewash but A War You Cannot Win is at odds with their previous records.
As “Down Through the Ages,” “Sing for Liberty” and “You Can’t Fill My Shadow” are as damn near heavy as can be, polar oppositely there’s a ballad, “What If I Was Nothing.” In between are many well-developed hard rock songs with choruses that fans will love and are no doubt responding to enthusiastically. And realistically, I have no idea what genre “Calculating Loneliness” actually is, but I guess that’s okay.
Diversity is plenty and the record isn’t tied to a particular genre, and in fact that may pull in fans from narcissistic metal holes you don’t expect. But that’s not the only thing against the grain.
Here’s what I meant by pissing off beyond musical boundaries: vocalist Phil Labonte isn’t a quiet guy (and no, pun-lovers, not because he screams)- check his Twitter for proof. For once, there’s a guy who isn’t willing to dance around topics or give politically correct answers- he tells you exactly what he thinks.
It’s different and perhaps refreshing at the very least to hear lyrics (see the aforementioned “Sing for Liberty”) that are libertarian in nature (during this political season, Labonte often tweeted about presidential candidates Ron Paul and Gary Johnson). Most people aren’t a fan or homogeneity and if anything, metal is a genre more than any other kind of music that’s foundation is individualistic and holds its middle fingers up high.
We live in a culture where musicians are refined to give you canned answers (“of course!”) and there’s barely any rock stars left. So regardless of what you think contextually about Labonte’s ideas, at least he shares them without fear. In the never-ending heap of negative press this guy gets over what he thinks, it probably feels like a war he cannot win too.
As is so with much of metal. So yeah, maybe pissing people off is enough to get out there. And if that makes you mad, All That Remains is a widely popular band so they are speaking to someone- even if it isn’t you.