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All Else Fails — The Incident at Black Lake

All Else Fails
The Incident at Black Lake
by Shea Higgerson at 09 November 2022, 12:07 PM

Canadian metal band ALL ELSE FAILS have released a devastatingly dark and personal EP in “The Incident at Black Lake.” They say it took them two years to complete this EP and listening to it, the dedication, time, and personal pain put into it are clear. The more I listened to it, the more I really liked it.

Lyricist Barrett Klesko said he wrote the album in the darkest head-space he’s ever been in and didn’t realize until hearing the first mix that he’d written the album about himself. “It was a mind-bending experience as if a past version of myself had reached out through time to help me understand what was happening to me…,” he said. This immense pain is undeniably there in his lyrics. A perfect example is in the first song “I, Defiler” where the lyrics say “Searching for meaning in despair. Not only are the lyrics haunting and full of anguish, but the music itself is brutal and full of emotion. The guitar work on the EP is phenomenal with some really great riffs and solos. The clean singing is also really awesome. At times the screams remind me of Jamey Jasta of HATEBREED, which I wasn’t sold on even though I’m a fan. I just wasn’t sure how I felt about this vocal style fitting with the music. Stylistically I found the band to be a mix of WAGE WAR and BORN OF OSIRIS and even KILLSWITCH ENGAGE.

Their song “Devour the Sun” is a shining example of the band’s talents and is a totally epic song. It’s more than eight minutes long and full of pleasant musical surprises. The addition of Seedy Mitchell on guest vocals is perfect and this is definitely my favorite song on the album. It’s unbelievably brutal. What’s interesting about this song is that Klesko wrote it as an allegory about a child who shares its radiance everywhere it travels until it forgets who it is and becomes despondent before eventually being able to access its memories. “..but the child sleeps, the memory fades, and the light from the long-dead star is lost forever in nothingness,” Klesko said of the song.

Flesh/Excess/Wealth” is a close second for my favorite song, however. Klesko says he wrote it about losing his sense of humanity. It’s a really aggressive song, but also contains some really beautiful clean singing and a wicked guitar solo. The final song on the EP is a cover of “Crystal Mountain” by the band DEATH, a song much loved by the band. Lyrically, the song fits the dark tone the band set for the previous songs on the EP. I think the band did a good job with the cover and putting their own sound to it. Overall, I thought this was a great EP where I could really feel the emotions that went into writing it.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. I, Defiler
2. Devour the Sun
3. Flesh/Excess/Wealth
4. Crystal Mountain
Barrett Klesko - Vocals, Guitar
John Saturley - Guitar
Coco Lee - Bass, Vocals
Nelson Collins-Lee - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 03 December 2022

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