All Else Fails – The Oracle, What Was, Is and Could Have Been
By Jason Wellwood
I’ve been a fan of All Else Fails for awhile now, their progressive approach to metal and intelligent, environmentally conscious lyrics have always felt refreshing. Each release from the band, from the early debut EP, to this album has shown a progression and a sense of musicianship that few young bands possess. The Oracle, not only brings some new music from the band but also provides a reworking of a couple of earlier tracks: ‘This World In Flames’ from the self titled EP is given both a heavier sound on the opening and a beautiful acoustic turn at the end. Also showing up is a version of ‘Fallen’ which you would have heard had you seen the band live or owned their live DVD/CD release. This song gets an added keyboard element that was missing in the original, making bringing the song to an entirely different level. All Else Fails don’t like to pigeonhole themselves when it comes to their music, often turning a song on a dime from thrash, to hardcore and even to atmospheric progressive jazz metal. It seems that there are few rules within the writing of an All Else Fails song other than, ‘it has to move you, and it has to be catchy’. While any mention of ‘pop sensibilities’ when referring to a metal record may make it seem like sudden death, I think All Else Fails some of the pop flow and feeling to seep in to their writing. It makes the hardcore elements more memorable and the metal elements a little more toe tappable, without detracting from any of the heaviness.
Depending on which version of the album you have, you may have a faithful cover of Alice In Chains ‘Sludge Factory’ or the blistering metalcore original ‘This Burden of Life’ (the latter actually seems to flow better with the rest of the album though both are very well done). Having pieced the album together with some reworkings, a cover and a track meant for a video game (‘Robots KOLTG’ a funny track, obviously pointing to the less serious side of the band) it’s amazing that it flows so well from beginning to end. The Oracle is a solid, if occasionally jarring album and a terrific next step for All Else Fails.