All that Remains - A War You Cannot WinAll That Remains – A War You Cannot Win

[11/06/12]
[Razor & Tie]

Oh how the mighty have fallen. All That Remains still holds a special place in many of our hearts, as This Darkened Heart and The Fall of Ideals remain among some of the greatest material to ever come out of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal/metalcore scene. Those days are unfortunately long gone, and things don’t look promising. The band stumbled through Overcome and For We Are Many, but the band’s latest pitfall A War You Cannot Win sees the band making yet another grab for radio-friendly rock hits that are formulaic and absolutely boring, falling even further away from the sound that first put them on the map. Gone are the powerfully heavy yet uplifting anthems of ‘Six‘ and ‘The Weak Willed.’ Instead, we’re left with boring uninspired songwriting that we’ve heard done better in previous albums at best and hamfisted paint-by-numbers mediocrity bordering on butt-rock territory at worst. One thing you can still count on All That Remains for is ripping guitar solos, and fortunately lead guitarist Oli Herbert hasn’t stopped contributing harmonic leads and shred, but it’s usually not worth sitting through the songs to get to them. Pass on this, and stick with the pre-Overcome discography and wonder where it all went. - JR

2/5

 

Dissipate - TectonicsDissipate – Tectonics

[11/19/12]
[Basick Records]

Dissipate’s debut EP, Tectonics, is at once an enjoyable mathcore romp, and a disjointed journey that leaves the impression that, with more refinement, it could be something truly great. Dissipate have a solid foundation of stutter-stop guitar riffs and vocals that hew more towards the death metal end of the spectrum than some of their peers. In fact, when I first heard rumblings of them signing to Basick, they were billed as either death metal or influenced by death metal, which perked my interest. Sadly, while the aforementioned vocal approach and a few of the riffs are undeniably metallic, (of the death variety) this is very much chaotic mathcore with eight string guitars. Think The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza or Ion Dissonance and you’d be pretty close to the mark. The difference between Dissipate and the aforementioned giants of the genre, however, is that their songwriting seems, at best, formulaic, and at worst, disjointed and schizophrenic. What the band needs to do is refine their songwriting, because they’re off to a good start. All the ingredients are there, but sometimes, it takes more than the right ingredients to make an amazing cake. Keep in mind, however, that this is a debut, and the band has a lot of room for growth. Their sophomore release will hopefully see the disparate parts coming together into something notable and great. - CK

3.5/5

 

HacktivistHacktivist – Hacktivist

[11/12/12]
[Self-Released]

After the 90′s and early 00′s, there was more or less an agreement within the metal community that nu-metal wasn’t that great of an idea. The disparate rap/metal combination worked well with Rage Against the Machine and a few chosen others, but in practice, many bands born out of that scene gave nothing to the world but a lazy mishmash of dumb rhymes and tough guy angst over uninspired hard rock riffs. They say that hindsight is 20/20, and we’ve mostly moved on from these mistakes despite some random bouts of amnesia coming out of emerging trends. One such retread comes out of the nu-prog djent scene in the way of UK’s Hacktivist. At first glance, it’s easy to discard Hacktivist on principle alone, and for good reason; rap metal is difficult to get right and djent is already starting to wear out its welcome and is spreading itself thin of ideas. Fortunately, this five-piece manages to avoid many of the nu-metal pitfalls and serves as an interesting introduction to the idea the band are trying to present. The three vocalist setup brings about a varied vocal performance with trade-off rapping verses, clean singing, and even bouts of harsh screaming, and it all seems to work well enough in the context of odd grooving riffs and ambient sections. Unfortunately, the instrumental portion of the group bites Meshuggah and Tesseract in a big way without much of an original sounding idea or tone to be found throughout this EP’s eighteen-minute runtime. Ultimately, Hacktivist is little more than grime rapping over third-generation Meshuggah theft; it only really works if you want it to. - JR

2.5/5