Before I begin diving into Victim of the New Disease, the new album from All That Remains (currently out via Razor and Tie Recordings), I want to take a moment to reflect on what this album truly means to the Metal community. Oli Herbert, founding member of the band and lead guitar player, tragically passed away last month. Herbert was one of the most gifted songwriters and performers that metal has to offer and his influence is deep and far-reaching. This album is his swan song, and it surely did not disappoint. But as many fans of the band did, I listened to this record with a heavy heart.
I have been a fan of All That Remains for over a decade. When I heard Phil Labonte say this album was going to be their heaviest since 2010’s For We are Many, I was elated. I loved A War You Cannot Win and The Order of Things. Unlike many critics, I had a positive feeling of last year’s Madness. But heavy All That Remains is something I have been waiting for for a long time.
The album kicks off with “Fuck Love”, which may be the most intense song this band has ever released. It is heavy. The double bass is working double time and pushes the song through. The guitar work, as always, is fantastic and the bass lays a heavy feel to the track. The song ends with a bone chilling, 12-second screech from Labonte is like something I’ve heard before on a recorded album.
Victim of the New Disease lives up to Labonte’s promise. It is heavy throughout. My favorite track is “Blood I Spill”. It starts out with an intense and feverish explosion of drums accompanied by the type of melodic and haunting guitar riffs that remind me of classic ATR songs like “Two Weeks”. The heaviness continues on the album with crushing songs like “I Meant What I Said” and “Misery in Me”. The final track on the record “Victim of the New Disease” ends the album as heavy as it began and caps off what truly is the band’s most heavy release in years.
But the album does take a few reprieves to integrate some of the more mellow, ballad-like songs the band has adopted as of late. “Alone in the Darkness” is strategically placed at the midpoint and gives a nice interlude as the album shifts to the end. “Just Tell Me Something” is bound to be a hit. The slower track features Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria and as if the added star power wasn’t enough, is a powerful track that is full of emotion. “Wasteland” is a song that should also see some success. It is heavy and unique and just has a sound that could really take off.
The lead single on the track, “Everything Is Wrong”, is what really catches my attention. It starts off with an instrumental, classical guitar interlude. It is peaceful and melodic, which is an all too familiar sound that Herbert had integrated into some of the band’s biggest hits. The interlude is met with an explosion of sound. “Everything Is Wrong” is catchy as it is heavy, and would not surprise me in the least if it surpassed “This Probably Won’t End Well” as the bands most recognized song.
Victim of the New Disease is not only the band’s heaviest release in years, but may be the heaviest ever. And it is certainly their most complete. The album is a fitting tribute to a man who had such an impact on the metal community. RIP Oli. Thank you for the memories.