All Left Out - The Conquest
Record Label: None
Release Date: 2007
Picture this: it's Warped Tour in St. Louis and the heat index has ascended the numeral spectrum and settled near 120 degrees. While waiting to have my condom signed, a friend and I are approached by a cute blonde with an accent who tells us that, for only ten dollars altogether, we can have a CD and free water all day. Needless to say, I did not even waste time sampling the given album and instead forked up the cash and happily thought to myself what a crude business man I am. Though I received a very dirty look from the band's lead singer when filling my cup for the first time (and even so for the twelfth and thirteenth times), I did in a way feel indebted to the group for allowing me to evade breaking my bank account on bottled water. Before departing from the venue, my friend refilled the cup once more for nutritional reassurance, and I approached the band's singer and said, "I'm gonna promote the hell out of you guys for this, even though you're a dick." Truth be told, I didn't and haven't done much to promote All Left Out or their new album The Conquest but will, in light of this obligatory shortcoming, showcase my perspective on its unique sound before all you, readers.
Before listening to the album, I was immediately astonished by its artwork. The graphics were perhaps the best I'd ever seen, which completely dumbfounded me considering All Left Out are an unsigned band. As I looked through the booklet (which, in both graphics and subtitle style, reminded me greatly of Coheed and Cambria's graphic novel), I started to pick up on the fact that the album carried a very heavy Christian presence and that the concept album was in fact concerning a young man's deviance from and return to the Christian faith (or God delusion, depending on your opinion). Though considerably discouraged by the "Christian rock" label, I popped the album in nonetheless.
Minutes into the imploration, I began asking myself something I at times thought ridiculous: is good Christian music being made now? Simply put, I had always, even in faith, been repulsed by modern Christian rock and, until earlier that year, had never heard a Christian album I'd liked. Even with that in mind, I still assumed that After the Sirens' What I Have to Give, Let it Be Enough was the only good, let alone great, Christian album ever made. I should also mention that weeks after listening to The Conquest, this site sent me yet another good Christian album by a band called I Am Not, I Am (my review can be seen here), further displacing the precedent that many music listeners have settled down with.
Both lyrically and musically, The Conquest is unique to say the least. I will try to describe the sound as emotionally charged pop-punk laced with church bells, tavern-style piano, various organs, nomadic and philosophical soliloquies, and neatly placed guitar solos. Three absolute stand out tracks are "Bon Voyage," "The Bridge of Perseverance," and "The Valley of the Shadow of Death." Each track has a strong hook in its chorus but, even so, does not stray from the very experimental musical style. The album's musicianship is absolutely grade A: drums, guitar, bass, you name it.
There are, however, some distinct downsides that appear once and again - the vocals and lyrics. Though it did not affect the score, I have to admit that the obvious accent displayed amidst the vocals fact irritate me immediately and continues to do so. Apart from that, the vocals are still pretty average both in range and dynamic value as each vocal patterns seems to be renewed in the following track. Sadly enough, in reference to the Christian musical progression that has been made in this review, the Christian subject matter forces the lyrics and overall tone to suffer at times. Both in discussion of eternal damnation ("The Tavern of the Temptress") and grateful attitude towards divine intervention ("The Path of Righteousness"), certain tracks' subject matters really hurt their overall attractiveness.
In wondering as to who I should recommend this album, I find myself once again bound by indecision, for The Conquest does not seem to apply to any specific musical fan base. Religious tones included, the overall product is one that will surely leave each listener with a slightly different impression. In the grand scope of the musical strides that Christian rock seems to be making these days, All Left Out's second release is a significant addition to the ever-growing collection; I'd comfortably place All Left Out securely behind After the Sirens in the Christian rock genre.
Thrice isn't a Christian band, however. Though they are steadfast Christians, religion does not overwhelm their lyrical subject matter and, at that, rarely makes obvious appearances. All Left Out, however, bases their songs entirely around their religious beliefs and tribulations.
These guys were selling this CD outside of a Fall Out Boy show back in May. I liked what I heard, but I attempted to bullshit the guy selling it by saying that I already had it so I could save some money. I felt bad about it, and the music was good, so I ended up buying it after the show. $10 well spent. They were also pretty good on Warped Tour.
I love these guys. They are the epitome of DIY. Even though they've already gone the equivalent of Gold in New Zealand, they're fighting for every show here in the States. Granted, Gold status in New Zealand is like 30,000 copies or something small because NZ's population is tiny.
Regardless, they played a show at a small club in Kent, Ohio, and they rocked out. They were also the nicest dudes. They were cool enough to do a video interview for the KSU TV station on the spot, right outside the club.
Bottom line, these guys have heart and they are what punk should be.
As much as I like heavier styles of music over standard sugary pop-punk, I really enjoyed their last CD and hope they gain some success just because of how hard they worked and the quality of people they are.