|Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore
Prosthetic Records, Razor & Tie Records
March 23rd, 2004
Release length: 41:36
While there hasn’t been more of a change to the band’s already existing musical approach, with the exception of a little more melody and some simpler, more catchier riffs during the chorus of some songs, vocally there is a huge turn around that really pulls the music together. Instead of offering a simple monotone vocal style, This Darkened Heart gives the listener a performance that is far superior, blending higher pitched rhaspier screams to go along with the previous shouting style that, unfortunately, does still remain rather monotone, as well as clean singing. This album also really introduces a more Metalcore side to the band. While there was some presence of it on the previous outing, it’s a little more obvious on this release outside of the usage of two-step, such as during the closing of “Focus Shall Not Fail” which utilizes a rather unimpressive breakdown that ultimately fades into an acoustic piece that bleeds into the next track, “Regret Not”.
While these surprisingly emphasized Metalcore aspects of this release aren’t anything too jaw droppingly spectacular, and actually feel as if they were tacked on, for a good majority of the album it won’t do much damage. Much of the material presented here is heavy and fast paced, starting right away on the opening track “And Death in My Arms”, which is a good song that highlights the flow of the album, but is far from anything that really stands out on this release. It’s until “The Deepest Gray” that this album really picks up. It’s the tracks like this, as well as “Focus Shall Not Fall” (minus the breakdown at the end, of course) that really get lodged into your brain with the catchy chorus and superb singing. Of course, the heavier tracks void of singing are impressive as well. “Passion”, for example, is a hard hitting metal track that features some great guitar work, as well as a rather melodic chorus that utilizes harmonized screaming instead of just singing, and also has a well done breakdown that is followed by a nice guitar solo. You also have the track “Die In Degrees”, as well as “For Salvation”, which are just hard hitting Metal tracks that show All That Remains doesn’t need to focus on catchy guitar hooks and harmonization to kick you hard in the gut, even though the latter does include a sung chorus that utilizes clean singing again, but ops instead for overly simple guitar chords then melodic hooks.
And, much like the band’s debut album, the closing track, “This Darkened Heart”, is easily the best track off the album. The song showcases the true intensity that the band possessed through hard hitting riffs and fast paced, almost blistering music that is void of much of the mainstream melody this album incorporates. It even includes a breakdown that really slams you in the face out of nowhere, as well as incorporates some gutteral vocals to the mix. Had the band included the intensity of this track to more of the songs on this release outside of a select few like “The Deepest Gray” and “Passion”, then this would have been a phenomenal album. Instead, after a few listens, This Darkened Heart will lose it’s main appeal, leaving the listener picking certain songs and skipping over others that have quickly grown repetative and boring.
This Darkened Heart is a step in the right direction for All That Remains, showcasing some great maturing from the band, as well as further promise. While it’s not the most spectacular album out there, it’s still a very important, and sometimes influential, release from All That Remains that needs to be heard at least once. The material here is heavy and stays on track with the original sound of the band, just expanded and explored. However, when the initial surprise of this album wears thin, so does the walls of repetition, and the replay value will begin to crumble after time, finding yourself going back over extended periods of time for a nostalgic listen or two before the release finds it’s way back to the shelf.
01. And Death in My Arms – 4:45
02. The Deepest Gray – 3:09
03. Vicious Betrayal – 4:19
04. I Die in Degrees – 3:30
05. Focus Shall Not Fail – 6:18
06. Regret Not – 4:26
07. Passion – 3:42
08. For Salvation – 3:51
09. Tattered on My Sleeve – 4:22
10. This Darkened Heart – 3:14
|Overall Score: 6/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by personal funds.