All That Remains This Darkened Heart

Ludicrously perfect, this sophomore release from All That Remains has been stuck in my stereo for months now. The band, fronted by ex-Shadows Fall screamer Philip Labonte, are at the forefront of the rising metalcore/American thrash movement, if such a thing exists outside of my mind, that is. And damned if these guys haven’t surpassed the mighty Shadows Fall with this release, also checking out God Forbid in their rear view mirror as they ride those wonderfully crafted melodic thrash riffs and dual leads into the sunset. It’s not too often metal is this catchy, hooky and memorable, either; it was once upon a time, though, and ATR are bringing that back as well. The band take a lot of what made metal enjoyable in the ’80s, and add in modern hardcore sensibilities. Although Labonte’s lyrics get a bit tiring by album’s end, the emotional aspect of the album is still what makes it a cut above; this just feels cathartic to listen to, a great morning album. I’m still left feeling a teeny bit cold by the production sound, in ways I can’t really explain, except by saying it’s maybe a bit too slick (same goes for the last SF album, oddly enough). And, like any gaggle o’ short hairs playing metal, there’s a slight element of cheese wafting around some of those copped Maiden riffs. But hey, this ain’t Avenged Sevenfold or anything, this is the real deal. As of 11:28 a.m. on May 13, 2004, this is my favourite metal album of the year, hands down. (Prosthetic)