All That Remains, despite having a long musical history, were a new name to me personally. I generally tend to avoid the newer crop of bands who I feel are much too extreme for my aged ears and head. I feel that after growing up listening to the more extreme bands and originators of genres, e.g. thrash, that anything following after is just a poor copy of the originals. ATR in their abbreviated form only really came to my attention only two months ago when they lost one of their long-standing members at a young age. As a direct result, they then became more globally known to people. Having heard their latest and new album there were however certain elements and a diversity of sound that piqued my interest sufficiently to want to witness them live. Thus, I found myself braving the winter elements to interview lead vocalist Phil Labonte ahead of the evening show.
When they hit the stage a few hours later after I missed the opening band it was with a ferocity that I wasn’t quite expecting. Their albums (I had done my homework pre-interview) had shown a surprising diversity of styles and genres but it quickly became clear that live they had decided to focus on their heavier tracks. It was a very emotional set of dates for both the band and their fans. Oli Herbert was an integral part of All That Remains from their inception right up until the release of their latest album “Victim of the New Disease“. Phil talked extensively about him, and also the difficulties in promoting the album and continuing on without him. On the set of dates, his place would be taken by Jason Richardson, who did a brilliant job in replicating the intricacies of Herbert’s lead work.
Despite poor crowd numbers for the opening band, the venue was almost full by the time that All That Remains started their set and opened with a brutal “Two Weeks”. This instantly got the energy levels at a peak of intensity directly both from the band and their rabid fans. Song selection succeeded in traversing many of the band’s releases as their special guest status (as support to Sevendust) allowed a long and fan-satisfying show. Choice back catalogue tracks were ably supplemented by tunes from the new release including the hard-hitting “Fuck Love”. My personal favourite, however, was the more melodic “What if I was Nothing”, which was slower paced and showed that Phil could actually deliver a quite stunning vocal style outside of his more extreme elements. This track is actually the bands best-known song despite being a complete departure from what the band usually deliver.
In conclusion, I was very impressed with the powerful show that the band delivered in the eye of adversity and very difficult circumstances. The sound was crystal clear, unusually for a band of that type of sound as much of it tends to generally get swamped. The audience appeared to have had a great time just from the energetic circle pits and crazed behaviour that I witnessed all around me. Surprisingly, I came away with a sense of enjoyment from my debut viewing of the band live – suffice to say when they come to Manchester again, I will be definitely be attending – maybe not right at the front – but will be physically present at the show.
Photos by Christopher James Ryan