A new bass player and a new release does not do much for All That Remains but tip its discography closer to bottom-of-the-bill mediocrity. The Massachusetts band is better than this and there is no reason for it to tighten the belt on the talent budget. Instead, Madness, the album, cinches up with “Madness,” the song, which has something to do with PTSD, in as much as any bad memory might share.
Perniciously Tired Sound Disorder affects the album once “Safehouse,” “Madness” and “Halo” pass by. Speaking of “Pernicious,” the unknown great song from ATR’s last album, The Order of Things, the whole wacky dash of Madness runs along the ruler’s edge between promise and disappointment without once choosing a side. It is not pernicious. It does not bite back.
Madness sports a solid Target aisle production as channeled through platinum producer Howard Benson. Benson produces in parallels the likes of a Crazy Town or Kelly Clarkson, but All That Remains should not have selected his brand of lipstick. Madness will not be heard squawking out of the speakers in a Sephora. All That Remains have felt its way down the funhouse hallway of metalcore for years, only to come out into the glare of “Louder” and little else.
Leader of the ‘Remains, Phil Labonte, along with bassist Arron Patrick, sweat out their performances with hard-hat perseverance. The rest of the ‘Remains swing their lunchboxes in lock step as everyone busts their ass to lay down one unremarkable brick after another. Madness is a bookcase from IKEA, sufficient and safe until better times allow for its replacement.
“The Thunder Rolls” ends the torpor fifty minutes in the making, allowing the album to disappear into clouds where “The Thunder Rolls” author, Garth Brooks, hovers overhead shaking his head at the frail attempt All That Remains have made to soar in the same skies that he owns lock, stock, and shareholder strong.
(released April 28, 2017 on Razor & Tie)