The Oracle: What Was, Is and Could Have Been

Suicidal Bride
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Overture
02. This World In Flames
03. Twilight of Mankind
04. Fallen
05. The House At The End Of The World
06. Monster Eats The Pilot
07. The Oracle
08. Rebirth
09. Sludge Factory
10. Obsidian Walls
11. This World In Flames (Acoustic)
12. Robots!!! KOLTG

Now this is a metalcore album with which we all can live; whatever that means. The problem with that statement has less to do with the fact that it is basically uninformative and more do with the realization that using "metalcore" as a blanket description for what ALL ELSE FAILS does is selling the Canadian act short. That is most certainly the case on "The Oracle: What Was, Is and Could have Been". What is also apparent on this third release is not only the sheer creativity of the group, but also its stone cold knack for writing songs designed to permanently embed in the gray matter.

Descending to the brass-tacks level, what ALL ELSE FAILS do so well on "The Oracle…" is the fine art of balancing beauty with brawn and just plain making interesting music; it challenges without leaving brain bruises. Take a song like "Fallen". It's got the up-tempo, catchy melodic metalcore thing with skillfully delivered aggressive vocals and clean singing, but it's also got the acoustic bits and piano, all of which adds up to one heck of a moving arrangement. Nothing ever feels out of place or overdone either. "This World in Flames", "Rebirth", "Monster Eats the Pilot", and "The Twilight of Mankind" are all great examples songwriting where the aggressive and the melodic (including smart use of keyboards) exist at a high level of complementarity. Then again, a few more spins might reveal "Obsidian Walls" to be an even better example; tough grooves, cool choral parts, good melody, and powerful spoken (sampled perhaps) commentary admonishing those who continue a campaign of environmental terror against the planet. Or how about "The House at The End of the World" and the elevating effect of the electronic elements and ethereal vocals?

This is an album where momentum never wanes and the pleasant surprises keep coming. You also get a faithful cover ALICE IN CHAINS' "Sludge Factory" that just seems like it is supposed to be there, a song in "Robots KOLTG" (i.e. "kind of like the government") in which the fun-filled quirkiness is only surpassed by the infectious musicality, and an acoustic version of "This World in Flames" that is just as appealing as the proper version for completely different reasons; that so rarely happens with acoustic renditions of electric songs. There is just something about the band's songwriting approach; it seems so darn natural and effortless. On "The Oracle" nothing ever sounds forced, formulaic, or identifiable as anyone but ALL ELSE FAILS. Don't let this one slip past your radar.

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