Has there ever been a time when metalheads ’round the ‘verse rightly celebrated non-Converge metalcore? I am not qualified to answer this question, for in my infinite wisdom, I actually dig this album quite a lot—and, for the record, Maria Brink sounds incredible live. I feel no shame for this, and because of that I am sure Angry Metal Guy would love nothing more than to sacrifice me to a rabid Muppet while playing Tetragrammacide in the foreground for good measure. But I digress. Germany’s For All I Care is a metalcore sextet of the non-Converge variety, and Forever and a Day is their debut full-length. And as you might suspect given my polarized taste, it is possible that I might love this stuff.
Except it isn’t possible and I dislike this stuff. In This Moment notwithstanding, metalcore of this strain often causes me much strain. Much like Killswitch Engage whenever they roll without Howard Jones at the helm, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! or any nü-metal project established by Fred Durst, For All I Care deal in cookie-cutter riffs and corny breakdowns bolstered by tough-guy hardcore screaming and flimsy clean vocals. However, much unlike the aforementioned bands this group throws a whole mess of other influences ranging from melodic black metal, death metal (and not, strangely, deathcore), slam and pop-punk a la All-American Rejects or Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. These inspirations crop up randomly and always without warning, which means this album provides a modicum of interesting moments to keep you awake for a whopping thirty-three minutes.
I’m going to follow that up with an analysis of a single song from Forever and a Day, as it is the most conflicting of the lot. Fourth track “My Insanity” is simultaneously a perfect encapsulation of the scatterbrained conglomeration of sounds For All I Care offer while also somehow managing to be the highlight of the record. It starts with a pop-punk vocal lead pulled straight from 2002, then in comes the meloblack. That particular section is actually quite enjoyable, with a decent melody and some tight drumming. However, it is short lived as the most boring of breakdowns and stereotypical screamo shouts invade your earspace. Clean vocals pop in now and again with as much power as a fine mist, but then out of nowhere come death-esque growls and riffs at about the two-minute mark. The riff spontaneously evolves into something resembling slam. Then we’re back to the laughable chorus and the song finally ends with that meloblack line again. As confounding as all of that might be in this example, it portrays a willingness to explore and experiment from which many modern bands should take heed.
Unfortunately, the creativity level plummets outside of “My Insanity,” and we are left with nine more songs that barely move the needle beyond “This Exists.” A blast beat here (“Brotherhood”) or a single decent guitar melody there (“Her Final Breath”) can’t save this album from the banality of the songwriting. Mark and Niklas deliver uninspiring riffs and recycled leads throughout the album, and the weak breakdowns set a bad example for the genre (“Awakening”). Carlos’ bass, while surprisingly healthy in the mix, feels like going through the motions rather than driving songs to a higher echelon. All vocalists (Hoger, Mark, Alex) struggle one way or another to gel with the instrumentation behind them, and the cleans are universally untenable. The lyrics are ju—actually, you know what? I’d better not speak of them. Suffice it to say Forever and a Day finds ways to derail my enjoyment at every opportunity, on every song. The only saving grace is Dominik’s drumming, which is on point ninety percent of the time and constitutes not only the most competent performance of this record, but also the most memorable.
It feels like it’s been an eon since I last enjoyed deeply of a metalcore record. In that time, plenty of bands reared their respective heads promising to break the mold and revitalize the genre to something other than the time-suck it has been for decades. Sadly, For All I Care are not The One™. They possess small sparks of interesting deviation from the norm, but the group hasn’t found a way to integrate them in a consistent and logical manner. So, after two full weeks, I am retiring this record to my recycle bin. It can live there Forever and a Day For All I Care.