All Else Fails – The Oracle, What Was, Is, And Could Have Been
All Else Fails are now into their third release, and somehow I’ve not heard of them until now. Their latest release The Oracle: What Was, Is, And Could Have Been (which from here on out will be referred to simply as The Oracle) is a hard album to pin to one genre. In the scope of things it’s probably easiest to just label them progressive metalcore, but I feel that might dissuade some people from listening. The band does an excellent job of genre jumping, going from some, admittedly generic, metalcore to some heavier more progressive metal, or thrash, jazzier stuff, and even straight hardcore. Schizophrenic may be a good genre label for them.
Jokes aside, The Oracle has a nice serious tone set both lyrically and musically. The first track called “˜Overture’, which is an orchestral piece with epic driving guitars towards the end, sets the tone perfectly”¦ And the beginning of the second track “˜This World In Flames’ almost entirely kills the mood. But hold with me a second; the second track isn’t bad, it just doesn’t start very well, feeling a bit like generic metalcore, and seems a bit out of place after the first track; however the mood of said track changes about halfway through and seems to get back on track. Something more akin to “˜Rebirth’ which starts out with an almost deathcore like explosion of sound might have been a better way to start and grab peoples attention. Outside of that, I really have no big problems with the album.
The vocals are pretty solid, nothing that reinvents the wheel, but like the rest of the music they can be pretty sporadic. Typically though we get part shouted part growled screams, with clean vocals that aren’t cringe worthy, but could be a little better in my opinion. While I wasn’t totally in love with the vocals as a whole, the track “˜The House At The End Of The World’ is perfect vocally. It’s reminds me a lot of Chino Moreno from Deftones actually. And the haunting whispered vocals in the back can send a chill down your spine. I wish there were more vocals like this.
While we’re dealing with the vocals, I’ll talk about the lyrics a bit. The lyrics work really well to help establish the dark atmosphere of the album. The song “˜Obsidian Walls’ essentially sums up the album lyrically speaking. Much of the writing deals with apocalyptic themes, in which we humans have all but killed the planet and really can do nothing but go down with the ship. Continuing this theme is the title track which is instrumental with a distorted version of Ronald Reagans “˜A Time For Choosing’ speech set atop it. Really unsettling, and perfect for the album.
The guitar work is great overall, although I do believe thought that the production could be a tad better. The guitar tones don’t feel very “˜beefy’ and occasionally get buried in the mix. However, what you can hear works well and when the guitars choose to get progressive it’s really great stuff.
The second to last track “˜Robots!!! KOLTG’ is a humorous track that feels very similar to Psychostick’s brand of comedy metal. It does keep with the lyrical themes of the album, but does a lot to lighten the mood of an otherwise pretty dark album; and the final track “˜Sludge Factory’ is a cover of an Alice In Chains song. It doesn’t exactly match the themes of the album, but it is a pretty solid cover.
The Oracle, while having a somewhat slow start, picks up rather quickly and does a lot to impress with instrumental prowess and an overall sense of good writing capabilities. I’m excited to see where these guys go in the future and I hope they keep up the creativity.