All But One – Square One Review

Band: All But One
Album: Square One
Label: Lifeforce Records
Genre: Metalcore, Modern Metal
Country: Hungary
Release Date: April 28th, 2017

There are certain unities in music that can truly surprise you. Some proved to be truly special (think Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth and Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree with their superb Storm Corrosion project) and some that have been truly horrendous (think Metallica and Lou Reed on their shockingly awful misfire of an album, ‘Lulu’). There have also been plenty of side projects that have turned into fantastic successes, such as Stone Sour (made from members of Slipknot and Soulfly) or The Damned Things (featuring members of Anthrax, Every Time I Die and Fall Out Boy).

This leads me on to All But One. A band that has been formed in Budapest, Hungary from fragments of many different bands, spanning different sub genres, countries and soundscapes. The project is the brainchild of Alestorm (yes, the Scottish Pirate Metal band) guitarist Mate Bodor. He has recruited some superb musicians to join him in this modern-day Metalcore super group. The vocalist Joe Carter-Hawkins hails from England and previously featured in the metal band When Our Time Comes, the other guitarist is named Karoly Alapi who comes from Belgium and used to play guitar in the band Atmosphere. Then we have their drummer, who perhaps holds the finest metal pedigree of the bunch. Christian Blass is currently a member of the German Death Metal titans Heaven Shall Burn.
The band are about to release their debut album and the biggest question on my mind is that with members from so many different bands and sub-genres, will this album sound cohesive and have one main goal or will it pull in too many different directions?

The album opener ‘Square One’ quickly answers that question, this is the sound of a band that have their shit together. The duel guitar attack sounds reminiscent of ‘A Sense Of Purpose’ era In Flames whilst the water-tight rhythm section thunders away in the background, giving the introduction a solid foundation to work from. The song sounds like it is straight out of the Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal playbook… until the vocals come in and completely change the game. The vocals are not aggressive in any way, shape or form. There are no Death Metal growls, no high pitched Deathcore squeals or even Hardcore shouts. It is, in fact a soft perfectly audible, very impressive clean vocal approach. This is sure to piss of the single-minded, militant metal heads.
The track loses none of its technicality or metallic tendencies in the instrumental parts. The riffs are complex and intricate, the drums are impressive and drive the song forward like a locomotive at full speed, all the while the vocals soar over the top and whip you into the fantastically powerful, almost pop-influenced melodies, you can try and fight it all you like, but you will be drawn in like you are listening to some sort of siren song. ‘Square One’ certainly does its job in outlining exactly what ‘All But One’ are about. We see harmonised, impressive guitar work (including a superb, melodic guitar solo). We see a catchy, infectious chorus which is simply oozing in melody and we see the metal influences from the outset with the use of intricate riffs and ferocious drum work.

The second track ‘Persistence’ continues in very much the same way. However, this particular track certainly seems to up the heaviness for its full duration. We are treated to fast, tremolo picked guitar riffs, monumental drum parts and rock-solid bass lines once again. The proficiency of the musicianship here is simply outstanding. The vocals are backed with harsh, Metalcore inspired screams (the kind you are likely to hear on a Memphis May Fire or Blessthefall track) which really add a certain emphasis to the delivery. This song is certain to send the crowds in to frenzy; I expect nothing less that circle pits and stage dives. This still seems like a mad idea when for the majority of the track the vocals are getting you to hum and sing along with their titanic hooks and enticing vocal harmony.

The third song ‘For The Waiting Good’ boasts the kind of intricate, surgeon like detail in it’s riffs that you would expect from the fretboard burning guitar wizards in Protest The Hero. Carter-Hawkins lays down another king-size melody in the chorus which frankly given a different backing track wouldn’t sound out of place in most mainstream pop chart songs. This is all without sacrificing a single slither of its heaviness. We are treated to a brilliant guitar solo in the middle of the song that will keep the guitar enthusiasts engaged more than happy (the boys have most certainly taken their time choosing their tones for this track, it is note-perfect but it still sounds natural). The boys then take a musical left turn and throw in a soft, clean, almost sickly-sweet interlude. This slows the pace of the track down brilliantly and allows you to come up for some air, normally this sort technique irritates me slightly but when it is used in the right way it can be very effective. The band then drops a breakdown that would show up some of the heaviest slammers in the game before topping it off with another fantastic guitar solo!

Before the release of this album All But One released the next track ‘Coloured In Vivid’ as a single complete with brilliant music video. The track itself is very much in keeping with the previous three tracks. However, it seems to really dial up everything that the band had been demonstrating on the earlier on in this release. We have complex rhythmic sections, fast, muted riffing and beautiful vocal lines. This one is destined to be a fan favourite.

The next track ‘Hope Fuel’ is a real disappointment. On an album that is already arguably too short at only nine tracks, throwing in an instrumental interlude that clocks in at around one and a half minutes seems to be a massive middle finger to the listener and kills the momentum that the band has worked to create dead.
The following track ‘Little White Lies’ is once again a previously released rack that included a very cool video (head to the band’s YouTube page to check it out). This starts with a very epic sound. The synths and chord progression for the introduction, coupled with the sublime production do this song some massive favours. The chorus is amongst the best on the album and one that personally will be sticking with me for some time to come.

Overall I would say that this is a fantastic album. All But One show some fantastic promise. The album does lack a bit of variety in my eyes though. The instrumental parts are very impressive, well thought out and complex, the vocals are indeed brilliant written and delivered… But underneath it all the album still works from a very basic blueprint which becomes apparent the more you listen to it. Perhaps putting something a little different in and amongst the other tracks would have done wonders to shake this album up a little.

This is an album that shows a lot of promise and hopefully they can take this idea, work on it and grow for their next album.

Rating: 7/10

1. Square One
2. Persistence
3. For The Waiting Good
4. Coloured In Vivid
5. Hope Fuel
6. Little White Lies
7. The Reaper, The Sower
8. Fire Sale
9. Serenity

Total Playing Time: 35:01

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