Music Review: All That Remains “A War You Cannot Win”

A War You Cannot Win [+digital booklet]

Released: November 6, 2012

Label: Razor & Tie

Purchase: Amazon | iTunes

There’s always a first time for everything, and its definitely my first time reviewing a heavy metal album. And that of a band who has released over five albums prior but I’ve no idea about.

I’m acceptable to different kinds of music so I wanted to give this All That Remains a try. In the end, I wasn’t disappointed, just not all the way impressed. Headaches aside, the songs were true to their metal roots and entertaining to listen to, but not so much memorable. 

An opening track like Down Through the Ages can definitely wake up the soul. The headbanging anthem has a riveting composition of instruments proven admirable and well produced, but its not to be departed from the inviting lyrics burning along. Death grunts, in my opinion, can sometimes come out repulsive but that’s tolerable here, as those intense voices carry the meaning of the track and emphasize further on it. 

The overall sound of You Can’t Fill My Shadow was as frightening as the words. Point taken. I’m pretty sure the track was meant to depict strength and determination in oneself against whatever or whoever attempts to bring you down. If I’m interpreting this wrong it’s because I could hardly get past the hard hitting riffs of that electric guitar, my favorite piece of instrument. Stand Up on the other hand is a lot more like what I listen to, slow tempo alternative rock with mesmerizing melodies. This track, unlike its predecessors, is much clearer and not as dark with death grunts tamed. Stand Up is undoubtedly self-explanatory. It’s about speaking out for what you believe in and not backing down no matter what. 

A Call to All Non-Believers dives back into what they do best but sadly this track wasn’t as balanced as the first two metal driven songs. The instruments missed a core concept and I felt completely lost by the overall sound of things. I was thrilled when Asking Too Much kicked in because it made up for what the previous lacked, pulling melodies. The words sounded a bit sad but relatable. There’s a sense of loss, loneliness, and a heart in love. I liked it. The song’s another clean number which establishes on the fact that their music is mixed between heavy and subtle.

Intro was twenty seconds of pure magic, but why is it number six and not at the start? Anyways, that fact aside, the musical arrangement sounds warm yet tragic. I enjoyed the masterfully done acoustic guitar melody and also found it rather surprising and questionable. The track’s presence on this album in particular could’ve been weird but its not. It calms the nerves for the follow-up, Just Moments in Time. The heartracing number which challenges the soothing sounds of the previous and leaves me wondering if it should be switched with the next track, which is more fitting to be in that position if they were gonna put the “intro” in the middle. 

What If I Was Nothing? is a beautiful rock ballad focused absolutely on love. The lyrics depict the humbleness of a man appreciating the one he loves and seeing that when measured, all his accomplishments in life aren’t greater than the woman he’s with. I could go on and on but you get the point. This is a sure standalone with the ability to go mainstream if that’s their aim. The drenching melodies and emotional words have me sold.

Sing for Liberty keeps heavy metal fans interested and not confused. Once more, the band sticks to the concept of balancing things out. This electrifying number is a mix between growls and clear vocalizing. A fun and substantial track that keeps the energy, and the essence of metalcore, alive.

I had mixed feelings about Not Fading at first but the track grew on me. I like its existence on the album and I love that part where the vocalist croons “baby…” that to me is the highlight of the song. Otherwise, I’m sure you’ll appreciate its tamed rock sounds.

Calculating Loneliness picks up the acoustic session where that intro left off. The adorable number cleanses the air of brutal grunts and substitutes that with inescapable mystery in haunting melodies. A relaxing track preparing you for the explosive conclusion.

The title track grabbed me in whether I went willingly or not. A War You Cannot Win isn’t as vigorous as the opening track but best believe there’s a story to tell in this one. Conveying the words deeply are emotions driven by rhythmic and distorted guitar riffs settling to the mind, and addicting to the soul. A closer not so charged but intriguing nonetheless. 

Overall, its an album suitable for mainstream. Like I’ve stated, I’m not all the way impressed but the songs were entertaining. Aside from three selected favorites, no other remains on my mind and in all honesty, I probably won’t remember to go back to this album. A War You Cannot Win is a good effort delivering themes of freedom, individually, in relationships, and society. A nicely done concept living up to its title, just not exceptionally there.

Rating: 4.5/5


Track listing:
01. Down Through the Ages 
02. You Can't Fill My Shadow 
03. Stand Up 
04. A Call to All Non-Believers 
05. Asking Too Much 
06. Intro 
07. Just Moments in Time 
08. What If I Was Nothing? 
09. Sing for Liberty 
10. Not Fading
11. Calculating Loneliness 
12. A War You Cannot Win



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