All That Remains/Threat Signal Live In Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Saturday, September 1, 2007 @ 10:04 PM

All That Remains Respon

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So on the same night I caught this show I was quickly becoming a big time Facebook junkie, having found most of the folks I went to high school 15 years ago already on it. There was already a location somewhere in the east side of town where the actual high school reunion would take place although the place played wall-to-wall 3 Doors Down and other sorts of generic top 40 hokum. Hence I thought that this show at the new Capital theater would be somewhat of an ideal place for a small-scale high school reunion at the time should a previous meeting at the infamous Ottawa Senators Red Mile on Elgin Street – it was on the eve of the Stanley Cup finals between Ottawa and Philthy Phil’s much-coveted Anaheim Ducks - fail to materialize that night.

It didn’t and it did. If that even makes any sense there.

On the other hand, as one of my friends named Billy was celebrating his birthday that night I doubt if he’d have wanted to celebrate that momentous occasion surviving a maelstrom of underage adolescents in Cradle Of Filth and Trivium T-shirts while doling out Chaos w/Full Metal Jackie stickers and catching up with what we’ve been doing separately over the past 15 years or so. And I kinda hesitated to ask another friend named Marc if he was eager to go and this was a show that suited his musical palette, as I wasn’t sure if he got my friend invite in time. But with the new and rather inconvenient location of the Capital Theater I wouldn’t blame either of them for giving the show a miss although this was a show I wasn’t going to miss regardless.

With that said, thanks to a bouncer who was clearly indifferent when it came to divulging even the most basic of information pertaining to the show such as whether or not any of the opening acts and co-headliners were switching sets with each other, the band I had worriedly assumed to have been Threat Signal and thus ended up missing turned out to be Protest The Hero, who, as it turns out, weren’t missed by many people when the played. Problem was, everyone confused them with Threat Signal and it left me in a bit of a sour mood as I drowned my sorrows in some rather expensive beer which was about $1.50 more than what I recalled paying at the Capital Theater of old.

It was about 3 songs in that I realized that I didn’t miss Threat Signal’s set after all, having managed to make out the words to "Haunting" off of the band’s 2006 debut full-length CD Under Reprisal. And the band – easily the most noticeably known band to emerge from Hamilton since Sons Of Butcher – rallied substantial crowd support just as much with their now ex-guitarist sporting an Ottawa Senators jersey in true ’91 Mark Slaughter fashion as they did with their technically driven thrash-meets-Swedish-death metal hybrid. The setlist was pretty much the entire Under Reprisal CD save for maybe the last song on the CD but what did get played harnessed more energy on the stage than in the studio in parts; "Seeing Red" sounded louder onstage; "Rational Eyes" sounded and seemed to be played twice as fast and the band’s breakthrough tune "One Last Breath" with its chorus sounding annoyingly close to every Linkin Park song ever written – though rather ironically this was the same song that drew me towards Threat Signal in the first place – sounded unbelievably raw and brash. No real attempt here to further expand on Threat Signal’s performance that night except…goddamn, those guys worked the stage and the crowd double time that night and this was probably the same performance they gave to Christian Olde Wolbers (Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad) on the day that he was enticed to produce their debut CD. In fact, Threat Signal vocalist Jon Howard is said to be working on an as-yet-untitled side project with Wolbers as well as Fear Factory drummer Raymond Herrera at the writing of this review.

And to think that the critics attribute the Threat Signal/Christian Olde Wolbers alliance to generous amounts of Stella Artois. How wrong they are…


Like going fishing with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, making fun of portly suburban mall kids attempting to play punk rock with some hardcore thrown in for good measure is cruel, demeaning and pointless. Making fun of the next opening band in the form of Phoenix, Arizona’s Bless The Fall, however, is the exact opposite.


And it was only the first song too. Something called "I Wouldn’t Quit If Everyone Quit" if I’m not mistaken. Or their anti-child abuse song "A Message To The Unknown" which, sounding like every Korn song ever recorded, was probably the only song of theirs that didn’t sound like New Found Glory. Yes, it was that difficult to deviate one song from the next. But fear not because what the band lacked in originality they made up in good stage activity. Whether it was the lead singer spitting randomly into the air or the rhythm guitarist showing off his best Steve Vai-jacked stage moves the audience were into it judging by the fierce circle pits that were happening in the center of the venue. I mean, yeah, never mind that spitting in the audience at punk/hardcore shows have been frowned upon ever since Clash frontman Joe Strummer caught an errant loogey horked into his mouth by a so-called fan and nearly died from hepatitis C back in the 70’s from that incident. And never mind the fact that when Steve Vai perfected the art of flying squirrel leaps while playing onstage or when playing in many a David Lee Roth or Whitesnake video some 15-20 years ago he was never 50 pounds overweight at that age back then.

But I remain in the minority since the buzz on Bless The Fall was enough to get them onto the Vans Warped Tour this year so maybe 100,000-plus fans on their MySpace Friends list can’t be wrong after all. Steve Vai still probably laughs his ass off watching the video for "Guys Like You Make Us All Look Bad" though.


This would actually be my second time catching headlining band All That Remains having caught them the last time – at the very last song – when they opened up for GWAR in late 2004 after a government-mandated French class I tried unsuccessfully to weasel out of ended up running a bit later than expected and by the time I arrived to the show the band were in the midst of their closing number "The Deepest Grey" that night. You may also recall the time they were also on the bill with Unearth and A Life Once Lost last summer but were unable to honor the Ottawa date that time due to their tour bus breaking down on the way to the gig outside Montreal, leaving several All That Remains fans at the mercy of the Red Chord and their rather hackneyed attempts at sounding like Pantera in both sound and in accent.

This time around, the Massachusetts-based thrash/hardcore quartet let their presence known as one of the current dominating names in the metal/hardcore scene, bursting forth with a barrage of brutal hardcore/thrash tunage mostly from their current CD The Fall Of Ideals starting with "Whispers", and "It Dwells In Me" as starters to familiarize the crowd before digging deep into their older material from their previous CD’s such as 2004’s This Darkened Heart and their debut Between Silence And Solitude during the show. The band’s more common material such as "The Deepest Grey", "This Darkened Heart" and "This Calling" may have received the crowd’s most fervent vocal mark of approval but it was on their lesser-known songs – many of which hadn’t been played live ever due to the sudden popularity the band experienced after This Darkened Heart got its major label release on Razor & Tie – such as "Clarity" and "Home To Me" as well as "Focus Shall Not Fail", "I Die In Degrees", "Tattered On My Sleeve" and "Becoming The Catalyst" among others where All That Remains rediscovered themselves as the hungry underdogs that they first started off as back in the late 90’s. Not to say that they had ever relinquished that drive or spirit in the first place once the gold and silver album awards and the offers to play Ozzfest started to arrive but often for most bands in both All That Remains’ genre of music as well as their position the accolades from mainstream media often become primary and relegate everything else to second place immediately afterwards. It was not the case with All That Remains that night. Even with the Capital theatre’s capacity level being in the hundreds the band treated their performance like it was at a football stadium hosting thousands of rabid and dedicated Ozzfest concertgoers with vocalist Phil Labonte rallying the crowd in between and during every number. And despite the negative reputation that lots of thrash/hardcore shows have been getting in the press lately mainly due in part to crowd violence often orchestrated by tight-knit hardcore/sXe gangs none of this was noticeable at this show thanks to Phil Labonte’s command of the audience. Hell, if he were any more able to fully touch base with the audience that night he probably would have had everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to Billy if Billy had ended up coming out to the show that night. He was nice enough after all to remind a concertgoer that "Becoming The Catalyst" had already been played after it was requested again. Who knows how Jamey Jasta would’ve handled that scenario? Assuming he hadn’t exited the side of the stage in shame already once the closing number "Indictment" mesmerized the audience that night, that is.

As I sat munching pizza at a nearby pizzeria after the show that night while watching the closing minutes of the then-important Stanley Cup finals between Ottawa and Anaheim on a rainy evening I could not of helped but thought that had this been almost any other of the aforementioned troubled thrash/hardcore shows that had dominated the headlines over the past 8-9 months or so I likely would have been leaving the Capital in a stretcher or body bag after being jumped by brass knuckle-wielding muscle-bound sXe frat boy meatheads in the pit for no other valid reason than for not being them. Thank Christ for bands like All That Remains and Threat Signal for creating a different environment both in the venue and the scene itself that’s slowly phasing out that vibe at shows completely.


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