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All That Remains: No mercy for the weak

 
PHIL LABONTE OF ALL THAT REMAINS

ALL THAT REMAINS (Live Photos)
CHIMAIRA (Live Photos)
BLACK TIDE (Live Photos)
LIGHT THIS CITY (Live Photos)

March 6, 2008
9:30 Club
Washington, D.C.

By JEFF MAKI

On stage, there is almost an arrogance to vocalist Phil Labonte and his band, All That Remains. They have reached the point where they know they're good and fortunately for them and metal fans, they have the music to back it up. The one-time runner-up to become the frontman of Killswitch Engage and former voice of Shadows Fall has seen his All That Remains' popularity soar beyond anyone's expectations, perhaps even those of his former bandmates. In the two years since the release of their breakthrough album, The Fall of Ideals (review), All That Remains has ascended to headliner status and made itself a household name in metal. The album surpassed the 100,000 mark in U.S. sales in June 2007, a huge feat for a metal band in a climate of declining CD sales and a dying record industry. They have been on the road almost nonstop since the album's release. Their show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., was their second-to-last stop before heading home to write their eagerly anticipated follow-up.

Labonte and the band have enormous stage presence. The vocalist only stands 5 feet 7 inches tall, but his growls and shrieks would have you think otherwise. Guitarist Oli Herbert soon should be recognized as one of the best in the genre. The guy looks like a giant next to Labonte and his bandmates, and according to Labonte he has been dubbed “The Wizard,” due to his appearance and magical guitar skills. I can definitely see that because Herbert looks like Gandalf with a guitar rig. His guitar harmonies and melodies are the driving force of All That Remains and make them stand out from countless other metal bands. A new drummer came into the fold recently, Jason Costa (ex-Diecast). With a band so versatile, an accurate, fast and precise drummer is a must and Costa fit that description perfectly. (Labonte talked about their new drummer, tour and album, among many other topics, in an in-depth pre-show interview with Live-Metal.net. Read it here) I always forget this for some reason, but All That Remains has a chick in the band, bassist Jeanne Sagan. She flat-out rocks and joins Labonte and Herbert to make for a motley-looking crew. We'll get into All That Remains' set shortly, but first let's take a look at the support acts.

 
LAURA NICHOL OF LIGHT THIS CITY

San Francisco's Light This City opened the show to a crowd of about half capacity. Their style is melodic death metal, taking cues from legendary Swedish acts like At the Gates, Carcass and Arch Enemy. They hail from the Bay Area, the place that basically spawned thrash metal, and an early thrash influence is noticeable in their sound. The band is fronted by a hot metal chick, Laura Nichol (named a “Hottest Chick in Metal” by Revolver magazine), though you wouldn't guess it from hearing her vocals. The sound wasn't too clear and Nichol's voice often just sounded like repetitive high-pitched screams. The set list included material from their albums Remains of the Gods (2005) and Facing the Thousand (review), their most recent release. The crowd was receptive and the band was certainly heavy, though not instantly recognizable. Light This City seems to have made many new fans, as Nichols stated that they had completely sold out of CDs on this tour.

Black Tide hit the stage and most of the audience didn't know quite what to expect. By now, most metal fans know a little about this band of teenagers, some as young as 15. They played on Ozzfest 2007 and their inclusion on the tour caused much criticism. The band plays a combination of hard rock and thrash metal. Though there is a certain novelty of a band so young, I wasn't that impressed. I'm sure they'd kick my ass playing any instrument, but do they really belong on a tour of this level? I mean, I could be these kids' dad, provided I knocked someone up when I was about 15 or 16. They played material from their debut album, Light from Above (review), but the highlight of the set was a cover of Metallica's “Hit the Lights.” I don't want to knock the kids too much. At least they play metal and they are talented for such a young age.

 
MARK HUNTER OF CHIMAIRA

Chimaira was in direct support, and as is always the case when I see this band live, they receive as good a crowd reaction as the headliner. This band has been around for a while now, slowly building and strengthening their tight, industrial-metal sound. They are underrated and have been flying under the radar for most of their career. Their last two releases, 2005's self-titled album and 2007's Resurrection (review), have solidified the band as a top-force in metal. Chimaira serves one purpose and one purpose alone: to kick ass. And I wouldn't want to fuck with lead vocalist Mark Hunter either; at one point I thought he was going to pull me out of the crowd and kick my ass. Just check out lyrics to “The Flame:” “I'm gonna pound you into oblivion/I will make you fucking bleed/There is no escaping me/This is your destiny.” Hunter delivers his vocals with such conviction that you're not sure if he's having a good time up there or merely releasing 30 years of pent-up anger. Plus, he looks more metal and evil than ever with his shaved head. Chimaira are also the only band I know of that features booming bass hits powerful enough to bring down the house. Another highlight was “Salvation,” which unfortunately did not feature scantly clad dancers as on past tours, but nevertheless is still a staple of their set. The band seemed ready to close with the killer title track from Resurrection, but then abruptly jumped back onstage for the anthem “Pure Hatred.” Their set was around 35 minutes.

Chimaira set list: The Dehumanizing Process, The Flame, Power Trip, Worthless, Black Heart, Salvation, Resurrection, Pure Hatred

As the headliner, All That Remains had about an hour of set time to fill. They didn't play The Fall of Ideals in its entirety, but came close, playing nine of the 11 songs on the album. Only “Whispers (I Hear Your)” and “Empty Inside” were omitted. They mixed in a few older songs from 2004's This Darkened Heart: “For Salvation,” “Tattered On My Sleeve” and the title track. Only one song was included from their debut, Behind Silence and Solitude:Follow.” Labonte gave the crowd an explanation of why they don't play material from that album. According to Labonte, they think it sucks. The older material is nowhere near as strong, but it meshed well with the newer songs and was cool to hear. But where was “The Deepest Grey”? I thought that was the best song from This Darkened Heart. The furious opener of The Fall of Ideals, “This Calling,” and the blast beats and black metal vocals of “Six” were awesome translated live. Herbert's guitar solo in “Six” is probably one of the best and most memorable ever. I still can't believe that as heavy as this song is, it's on Guitar Hero. The whole band is extremely active onstage. Labonte gives himself the equivalent of a hour long workout night in and night out, running from side to side. And the crowd was going apeshit during the whole set. Circle pit after circle pit erupted all night long. As the band was about to wrap things up, Labonte thanked all the support bands, except Light This City. And why was that? Before we knew it, All That Remains came back out for an encore of “The Weak Willed,” introducing Light This City's Laura Nichol on vocals with Labonte. The two took swigs from a bottle of whiskey and then erupted into a fantastic and deadly duet. The song ended up being twice as heavy in this version, if that's even possible. Nichol's vocals were the perfect fit for the one All That Remains death metal song.

Expectations are high for All That Remains next album. The band ran the cycle perfectly for The Fall of Ideals and is poised to become one of the biggest American metal acts (if they aren't already). This was my second time seeing the band on tour for this album and it was equally, if not better, than the first show. They have won me over as a diehard fan over the past two years. At this point, I'll see them anytime they come around, and there's not too many bands I can say that for. 

All That Remains set list: The Air That I Breathe, Indictment, It Dwells in Me, Become the Catalyst, We Stand, Tattered on My Sleeve, Not Alone, Follow, For Salvation, Six, This Darkened Heart, This Calling, (Encore) The Weak Willed (featuring Laura Nichol of Light This City)

Related links:
www.allthatremainsonline.com

www.myspace.com/allthatremains
www.prostheticrecords.com
www.chimaira.com
www.lightthiscity.com
www.blacktidemusic.com