At All Costs - Direction (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

At All Costs

Direction (2006)

Our Pride

Don't like Set Your Goals?

Me neither.

Don't like ska?

Me neither.

Then you can imagine my disappointment upon the realization that At All Costs' Direction is literally nothing more than an amalgamut of pop-punk, hardcore, and ska. The former two genres are two of my favorite, and even the latter is decent when played correctly, but the mix of all three is probably the worst idea anybody has had since O.J. Simpson's now-canned "If I Did It."

I can't knock their enthusiasm -- and there's certainly plenty of it, but the mix of styles the band is throwing together are styles that were not made to be thrust into that sort of position. "Count on Me" is a perfect example of a band that can't stick to one idea. In no more than 15 seconds' time, they alternate between some pop-punk melodies, hardcore gang vocals, and ska horns without any real semblence of continuity. Even alternating between a ska song, a hardcore song, and a pop-punk song would allow them to establish a rhythm, some sort of ebb and flow that would keep the record from becoming a bogged-down mess.

Simplicity. Simplicity would have been the road to travel here. It's not even that there's a lot happening in the music to keep track of, but the fact that the styles don't meld. The furious gang vocals performed on "Push Ahead" are starkly contrasted by the ska horns, horns which call to mind an upbeat, positive feeling. It's not feasible to have such polar opposites in the same song at the exact same time and still have people believe that the supposed emotion and feeling is genuine. You cannot mix the rage of hardcore with the generally sunny disposition of ska and pop-punk and expect people to take you seriously. I'm sorry, it's not going to happen.

And hopefully, it never will.