What is this? What am I hearing? I understand that it's a collection of chords and notes and drums and vocals, but those are just its requisite parts. My question, on a much more fundamental level, is what IS this? What is it that All That Remains hoped to project with this new effort "For We Are Many"?
For all of its thrashing and slamming and banging, the album is a collection of seemingly disjointed ideas that lack a commonality of purpose. All That Remains has crafted undisciplined, brash and powerful pieces, but unfortunately, the descriptor "undisciplined" is a double edged sword.
In an attempt to be ferocious, the band has lost sight of all the other ingredients that must come together to craft proper metal. There is a pervasive sense of rebellion on the album, with titles and screaming choruses like "Aggressive Opposition" and "Let Them Tremble," though it's never made clear what the listener should be rebelling against. The aggressive nature of the vocal performance combined with this ill-defined revolutionary sentiment lends the album a juvenile feel that I'm fairly confident is not what All That Remains was shooting for.
The other victim of the album's vehement full court press is any kind of catchy hook. Each song, whether it be the title track or "Dead Wrong" is a savage, grinding affair, but boils down to an amalgam of power chords stacked on top of each other with the double kick beat, and that's it. The lack of any well-constructed riffs makes the music dense and difficult to relate to. Furthermore, not having a hook makes the sheer volume of noise from the distorted guitars impossible to break apart in to recognizable pieces, which makes the songs overly similar. There's very little flow, and no sense of really capturing a moment with the exception of the opening "Let Them Tremble."
"Some of the People, All of the Time," and "Won't Go Quietly" are the album's strongest efforts, and stand out from the swamp of the music that they sit in. Both songs are lifted by a virtuoso guitar performance, and feature more musical unity of direction than the tracks surrounding.
To that end, the guitar work by Oli Herbert is pretty solid from beginning to end. Even a lesser song like "Hold On," is elevated in status because he cuts loose in the solos and tries to fill in the gaps.
At its worst, "For We Are Many" is a generic, ho-hum affair. At its best, it is a pale copy of fellow Massachusetts metallers Unearth. For my money, I'll stick to the latter.