All That Remains – A War You Cannot Win (2012)

Two years after For We Are Many, All That Remains, the metalcore heavyweights from Springfield, Massachusetts, are back in the saddle and prepared to release their sixth studio effort, A War You Cannot Win. Simply judging by the artwork the album bears as its cover, it’s easy to tell that listeners are in for a bumpy ride, and not in a good way.

In 2004 and 2006, All That Remains released This Darkened Heart and The Fall of Ideals, respectively, which, in my opinion, are two of the finest metalcore albums ever released. Over the past several years, the quality of All That Remains’s output has declined steadily and it has reached its lowest point with A War You Cannot Win. This album is a far cry from the excellence that is This Darkened Heart and The Fall of Ideals and it comes off as an attempt to pander to the radio rock crowd. While it has been six years since The Fall of Ideals and a desire for a wider audience is to be expected, I can’t help but feel cheated with A War You Cannot Win. The cover artwork is cheap and reminiscent of Five Finger Death Punch and many of the songs found on the album sound as if they could be heard on your local hard rock radio station.

Part of the problem with A War You Cannot Win is the production. Adam D of Killswitch Engage handled production duties for this album, which I found surprising because most of the other albums he has produced have been very good. The production is not particularly strong and lacks the rawness and power of previous All That Remains albums. In essence, it makes the album sounds as if it’s something you’d hear on a hard rock radio station, although the nature of the compositions themselves probably does not help.

Songs like “What if I Was Nothing?” embody everything that is wrong with this record. While softer songs and acoustic segments on previous All That Remains records (“Regret Not,” “Whispers,” etc.) were tasteful and brought a degree of variety to the table, the softer songs on A War You Cannot Win fail to captivate the listener and merely serve as an annoyance. Some listeners will undoubtedly be fine with the radio rock tunes on this album, but I take issue with the direction they’re going in because their former glory is being forsaken in exchange for greater mainstream notoriety.

With that being said, A War You Cannot Win is not all bad. “Down Through the Ages” and “Just Moments in Time” are a decent tracks, but nothing I’d list if queried about the band’s best tracks. I’d be hard pressed, however, to name any other tracks from A War You Cannot Win that stuck with me after listening to the album several times.

All That Remains’s deplorable foray into the realm of radio rock saddens me greatly. While A War You Cannot Win is not a complete bust, there are not nearly enough good tracks to redeem the album from the depths of mediocrity. It’s a shame to see one of the titans of the metalcore genre stray so far from what once made them great, but I suppose a change in sound was inevitable after being a band for over a decade.

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By Mike O’Hara ~ Me Gusta Reviews