All That Remains’ second release, 2004’s “This Darkened Heart,” should have been their breakthrough. But it wasn’t. So, perhaps in an attempt to cross over into the mainstream finally, the band added a substantial amount of more melody to their follow up, “The Fall Of Ideals.” But, even though it’s up for debate whether All That Remains wanted to expand their fanbase or just expand their sound (and not make a “This Darkened Heart” rehash), there’s almost no denying that “The Fall Of Ideals” is a changed sound.
There are positive and negative aspects of this newfound melody. On the plus side, there are quite a few more catchy, memorable, and infectious choruses. But, since about every song has a cleanly sung refrain, ATR now sound quite a bit less identifiable and more like an Atreyu, Caliban, or Killswitch Engage clone (it’s only a coincidence that KsE guitarist Adam D. produced this disc, though.) But there are ample aggressive guitar riffs and raging yells on here to prevent All That Remains from completely redefining their sound. And, to their credit, this band is capable of adding melody to their metal without having to haul out the acoustic guitars for a cliche interlude or album closer.
“This Calling” is a good example of these songs’ structure: a heavy intro with long, almost emo-like screams leading into the verses (consisting of rapid, punching riffs, hard-hitting drums and throaty yells), segueing into a soft, gentle chorus with limpid singing, and concluding with a mini guitar solo. This is a good song which comes together well, and the pleasant-sounding chorus serves as a nice break from the throaty yells. But after listening to this formula again for another five–or so–tracks, the listener longs for something to break up the repetition, because the songs have become kind of predictable. But, fortunately, there are a few songs which are completely heavy: the fast, pounding “We Stand,” the scorchers “Six” and “Become The Catalyst” (which have fiery, chug and churn, dual guitar leads and almost thunderous rhythms), and the quick, bruising tenth track, “Empty Inside,” are all full-on metal assaults without any vocal pleasantries. And there’s a lot of heavy stuff to go around, here, so no song ever has too much melody. Plus, the whole album is less than forty minutes long, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome and/or become repetitious to the point of being intolerable.
So you could call this disc somewhat formulaic, but if you take every song individually, the formula works very well, so why tamper with it? All in all, “The Fall Of Ideals” does stick out in this band’s discography, but it isn’t very identifiable in this genre. But even though it won’t go down in history as a modern metal landmark which knocks down any walls, and it won’t be heralded as the album which put All That Remains in the same league as, say, Shadows Fall, any metalcore fan (or ATR fan) would tell you it still makes for a good, mostly satisfying listen.