This has been one of the hardest reviews that I could have ever imagined writing. First off, let me start by saying that I generally hate punk rock of any sort. I hardly like The Clash, The Sex Pistols, or The Ramones (ok, well maybe I kind of dig The Ramones more than “hardly”), and I would be caught dead listening to any of that modern anti-establishment product that has high school students everywhere rebelling against their parents. There are, however, very few exceptions: Misfits, Pennywise, NoFX, and now, All Against The World.
When I first popped this disc into my car stereo and heard the tell-tale hardcore punk opening track, I thought I was destined to tear into All Against The World’s year-old effort, The Furthermost, with the lack of mercy that one would expect a pigeon to show a statue. In fact, I can say with certainty that my prejudice coerced me to tune out and simply continue driving, but what happened next has practically left me in a state of bewilderment. Sometime around when track 2 kicked in, my head started bobbing subconsciously to the music, and I was forced to focus in on the sound and assess what I was hearing. Needless to say, the track “All In The Past” made my jaw drop. “Was that a Swedish death metal riff I just heard!!??” I had to restart the track, and low and behold, I found myself slowly getting into the band and discovering a new-found respect for what the punk genre could possibly offer.
But alas, I am getting ahead of things a bit. All Against The World hails from Gaia, Portugal. They pretty much destroy anything remotely punk coming out of America at the moment (again, my opinion, which is not worth a damn in the punk subculture). Everything instrument-wise is pretty solid across the board here, but I really have to hand it to the guitarists. Not only can they shred like Makos, but they’ve written some delicious and extremely catchy riffs. Being hardcore punk, it’s relatively fast, but at the same time very melodic. In fact, there were a couple of licks that I felt Dark Tranquility might be kicking themselves over for not writing first. And what’s the deal with all of these kick-ass solos? I may not be the best judge of this, but overall I felt that the riff-age had a bit more noodle to it than the punk genre generally allows. The drums follow suit, as they have a semi-technical yet in-your-face thrash feel about them. For the most part, the drummer succeeds in keeping it relatively simple, fast, and solid, but he has no problem playing at 1,000 mph when he feels like it.
The lowest point for me was the vocals, as it is with any punk record. They’re fairly generic even for uniform screaming, and only a handful of clean parts actually got through to me. A good example of one of the keepers is in the song “One Second Ago”, where I found the sing-along chorus to be very catchy and reminiscent of “Smash”-era Offspring (not a bad thing, and you can go play in traffic if you feel otherwise). I can’t really associate too much ire with the monotone angst that’s so prevalent throughout the album though, as it’s pretty much a staple of hardcore punk, and as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A failure that’s definitely worth noting, however, is the laughter that makes it into the lyrics on “Heartblinkcore”. It’s a personal feeling of mine that anyone who incorporates laughter into their lyrics should be force-fed African honey bees. As far as the actual vocalist goes, he’s more than suitable for the band as he hits all of the right points for what they are going for, even if I’m not the biggest fan myself.
In the end, I can safely say that I walked away infinitely more impressed than I would have originally thought, making this somewhat of a paradox for a punk album released in 2008. If hardcore punk is your thing, All Against The World is a band to pay attention to, and The Furthermost should definitely be in your collection. I may not be well-versed in the genre, but the fact that this album gets my blood moving has to stand for something. Well played, sirs.
01. All Against The World
02. All In The Past
03. Scratch In Time
04. Life Under The Sun
05. New Seeds
06. Leaving The Railway
08. One Second Ago
09. Never Tell
10. Fears Won’t Bring A Change