All That Remains
This Darkened Heart
Future is bright as potential becomes reality
When vocalist Phillip Labonte left Boston's (USA) Shadows Fall after the release of 1998's Sober Eye to the Sky, it would be a few years before Labonte would appear on the metal scene although his plans were coming together in the background. Line-up changes plagued All That Remains early on but in 2002, they got it together enough to release their debut long player Behind Silence And Solitude. After further line-up changes, All That Remains have returned with their highly anticipated and all important sophomore effort This Darkened Heart.
The soft acoustic beginning of And Death In My Arms soon becomes an onslaught of hammering riffs in the vein of Killswitch Engage and Unearth. This strong opening track which is easily one of the albums highlights features some fantastic harmony guitar leads in the later part as well. LaBonte screams and sings his way through the most melodic track on the album, The Deepest Gray, which is also one of the albums highlights before All That Remains deliver The Haunted style riffing and dynamics in Vicious Betrayal. To a lesser extent, this continues with I Die In Degrees as the later half of the track drops in pace before it wraps up with a soft, clean, soothing ending.
The album's longest track, Focus Shall Not Fail, is also the album's most varied. The slow melodic building intro makes way for the track's Jeckyll and Hyde personality when it switches into a fast paced number on which Labonte delivers an almost true hardcore like vocal performance for the most part before shifting effortlessly back into the same melodic vein that it opened with. The instrumental Regret Not offers some quality breathing room on the album with its acoustic intro that soon becomes a distorted, melodic barrage of crushing guitars and drums that also find their way back to the track's humble beginnings.
Passion and For Salvation are unquestionable deliveries of the band's core style with the latter of the two showing Labonte again showcasing his strong vocal abilities. Tattered On My Sleeve overall isn't as strong as the rest of the album, but there's little doubt that from the mid placed acoustic break through to the end, it still shines with plenty of character courtesy of some nice lead guitar work and more of Labonte's excellent vocal work. The sheer brutality of the title track is a not so subtle reminder of the metal ferocity that this quintet are capable of and when it's all said and done, it'll leave knocked flat out wondering what the number of the freight train was that just hit you!
The metalcore genre is starting to peak with saturation as more and more bands are signed and the overall quality of releases drops accordingly. It's always refreshing to see that a band can come along and deliver such a high quality and diverse releases as All That Remains have done with This Darkened Heart. This album is a damn fine representation of how it should be done!
(Prosthetic Records/Stomp Distribution)