If there's one band constantly under fire whether they deserve to be or not, it's ALL THAT REMAINS. Long one of the forerunners in metalcore, they've reached a pinnacle of success despite constant scrutiny for their stylistic changes. Both the success and the scrutiny will assuredly carry on with their latest album "The Order of Things", an album finding the band testing the waters even more while sticking to their standard framework built upon hooks and breakdowns.
The album's single "This Probably Won't End Well" actually opens well with a textured instrumental intro as Phil Labonte calmly sings over what becomes a pop metal number with Jason Costa attempting to give it a little urgency with his blast rhythms. Labonte reverts to growl mode over the much tougher "No Knock", a song that would've been better without the breakdown segments, yet still emits some of the heavier tones ALL THAT REMAINS has put out in some time.
As if to spite, Labonte and his team go back to accessibility mode with the nearly happy-go-lucky "Divide". It's sure to please the band's more recent followers and piss off everyone else, but there's no denying the tune is well-crafted. Like its predecessors, "Divide" is efficient, while the four-minute successor "The Greatest Generation" plows along as a coddling anthem. Nonetheless, Phil Labonte's clean singing here is rally inducing and ALL THAT REMAINS' fans are going to be wailing bloody murder along to this one.
The band changes things up with delicate acoustic plugs from Oli Herbert and Mike Martin on the agro ballad "For You" and by now, if you're needlessly holding onto the hope of a return to "This Darkened Heart", accept the reality of things or abandon ship. The closest you'll get is "Tru-Kult-Metal" and "A Reason for Me to Fight". The latter is a mostly brisk-moving pumper with, of course, fan-pleasing sing-alongs. "Tru-Kult-Metal", one of the album's fastest songs, also loosens the hard vocals amidst the gusting cleans. Unfortunately, the breakdown clichés here undoes a game effort from Herbert, Martin and bassist Jeanne Sagan, who flow together terrifically. "Bite My Tongue" crams as many melodies as quick tempos as it can withhold, but for fun, ALL THAT REMAINS tosses in a surprising jazzy progression along the way.
"Victory Lap" rides a mostly straightforward, pumping rock groove despite the unabashed need to power pop its way through the choruses. Depending on your point-of-view, it's probably fitting Phil Labonte barks most of the way through the seven-minute closer "Criticism and Self-Realization", albeit the superb piano outro is the bigger part of the story.
ALL THAT REMAINS is playing to the height of their talents and they make no bones on "The Order of Things" that metalcore is not merely a foundation, it's for their own reinvention. There are fast propelling moments on "Flat Empire" that are so invigorating it's hard to ignore this band outright. Only the formulaic parts do them disservice. Otherwise, Phil Labonte and his team are joyously doing whatever the hell they want, praise or scorn them all you like.