All Out War - Condemned To Suffer (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

All Out War

Condemned To Suffer (2003)


I remember when I first started listening to metalcore. Like most people, I started out listening to "classic" hardcore bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag and the Bad Brains, but Minor Threat was definitely my favourite. And through Minor Threat, I got involved with Straight Edge. Around that time, one of my more militant straight edge friends recommended Earth Crisis' debut Destroy the Machines, which I still prize as one of the best and most important metalcore records ever released. (We probably shouldn't talk about their subsequent, and progressively worse releases.)

Of course, through Earth Crisis, I also discovered Victory, and soon was listening to records like the equally important Progression Through Unlearning and Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent", both of which still hold up today. As I explored Victory, I found a lesser known act called "All Out War." Their Victory release was For Those Who Were Crucified and it was probably the most extreme record in my collection. It really only appealed to me at a base level, simply for it's unrelenting fury and intensity.

So, now, almost six years later, hardcore has changed dramatically. The brand of metal-infused hardcore that Victory was pushing almost a decade ago now represents the majority of modern hardcore, with relatively few bands representing the older roots. Over the years, my tastes in hardcore have equally evolved, with my preferences leaning towards more emotional, literate bands like Converge, Botch, or Glassjaw. But through the six years since I first heard All Out War, in spite of the massive changes in the hardcore scene, very little has changed with the band themselves.

They still focus on the more brutal aspects of metal; the rapid fire drums, downtuned guitars, and atonal barked/sung vocals. Lyrically, the band hasn't strayed far either, still obsessed with apocalyptic pronouncements and thinly veiled religious imagery. The music is still blazing fast with chugging galore, with the occaisonal break into a slow dirge, with the chugging guitars appropriately slowed down.

The record includes some Wagner-esque openings, like the beginning of "Bleeding the Weak" (why are metal bands so obsessed with Wagner, anyway?) but spends little time straying from the established formula of speed, and anger. They deliver what they promise, but they don't really promise an awful lot.

By the end of the record, most of the tracks had blended together for me, and left me pretty unsatisfied with how I had gotten there. The truth of the matter is that my tastes have grown, the hardcore/metalcore genre has grown, but All Out War hasn't.