All Else Failed
This Never Happened

After a four year hiatus, Philly’s All Else Failed return with a revamped line-up and a renewed energy to follow up their Archetype album.

 And while certainly a solid album of metallic discordant, chaos core and hints of other more commercial ingredients, I’m not quite sure there’s room for All Else Failed at the top. With a delivery that’s part Mastodon, DEP (Chris Pennie is a guest drummer), and Burnt By The Sun, All Else Failed have introduces some clean vocals and some slight emo/screamo elements. Now, DEP certainly introduced the same sort of mix with Miss Machine, and All Else Failed are just as capable as their peers, but there’s just that ‘something’ missing that keep it from being elevated into the great category.

 Luke Muir’s clean croons certainly don’t really help, with a sort of The Cure/Smiths whine that don’t really complement his expected roar, even if the generally peaceful moments they overlay are well done. As the first four songs stagger and lurch with jarring time changes and orchestrated chaos, I’m rather enjoying the output of the band, especially the impressive, moody climax to ‘Wishful Thinking’. But at ‘Waterlogged’ the album takes a slight tangent into a strange desire to insert more clean vocals and more frequent occurrences of strained alternative elements. I have no problem with acoustic shifts and insertions, but there’s a definite difference in the material, whether the more ‘tame’ stuff is newly written material or whatever, but it doesn’t hold up to the more caustic stylings of what I assume is older material.

Of course, I may be completely wrong and this was all written six months ago, but the album’s change of course is tangible. Now I’m not saying the entire latter 2/3’s of the album is pure pop-core, as All Else Failed still throw in a few vicisous, jagged jabs to the face (‘Step One: Give Up’, ‘Simple Solution’, the blistering ‘Character Actor’), but sandwiched between softer emo laden tracks like ‘Centralia’, ‘In Our Defense’, ‘All Good Things’ and ‘Departing Flights’ the duality of the band is obvious. Of course, I’m all for diversity, but the band’s tangent stops the album rising up to the levels of Anodyne or Mastodon, and frankly, they aren’t quite as fluidly mixed in as DEP newer offering.

Still, when focusing on the purely angry, grating side of their musical personality there’s no doubt All Else Failed is a legitimately impressive act, however, when the album ends with the virtually vomit inducing ‘After All’, I question the overall product. It’s clear musically all five blokes are sound players, especially drummer Cappie Halphen who continues the legacy of post Brann Dailor brilliance, but only when the songs allow him to erupt appropriately. Maybe with a solidified lineup, All Else Failed can decide their direction rather that this slight mish mash.

Still for fans not quite ready to fully absorb Burnt By the Sun and Co, All Else Failed does offer some respite for the curious listener looking for a gateway band, which is a shame as they could be much more.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 24th, 2005

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