All That Remains brings a more melodic metal to Egan Center

Matt Sullivan
P.R. Brown

The members of All That Remains are excited to come to Anchorage but that wasn't necessarily the case the last time they played here. When the Massachusetts-based metal band played the Egan Center in 2011, the date was squeezed into the group's small window of downtime during a glut of heavy touring, and the group wasn't all that sold on the idea of playing an extra show on the other end of the continent.

"The last time we played there, we were on tour so long. We all wanted to go home so bad, we took a red-eye flight after the show. We went from the stage right to the airport," guitarist Mike Martin said over the phone. But the audience response was so positive that "the show ended up being so good that it didn't matter," he said. "That was one of the best shows I could remember."

This time the Egan Center show comes after the members have had some time to unwind at home and before they launch into yet another lengthy tour in support of "A War You Cannot Win," the band's sixth full-length album, which came out on Election Day last year. Though the band maintains the timing of the album release was coincidental, lead singer Phil Labonte is known for being outspoken about his libertarian views, often using interviews to express his pro-gun, anti-war and small-government convictions. Metal magazine Decibel even asked Labonte if he'd rather stick to talking about music during interviews.

"I wouldn't say that, especially because libertarian views don't get equal time on the news," he answered. "So, when people can hear a perspective that's like, 'It's OK to be gay, it's OK to smoke pot and it's OK to own guns,' they don't expect those ideas to come out of the same mouth."

"That is just Phil," Martin said. "As soon as he starts talking about it, everyone runs away."

All That Remains started out closer to death metal but more melody has been finding its way into the band's sound with each passing record. Labonte still unleashes a guttural growl, but he's also singing more than ever on "A War You Cannot Win."

"There's not a lot involved for us except for just making songs that people remember, which has always been important to us," Martin said. While the band's sound has altered a bit, the goals haven't. "We've definitely found over the years that we could write the most technical song that's seven minutes long, but always the ones people latch onto are the three minute songs with the big chorus."

Stressing memorable hooks over technical chops has earned All That Remains the kind of crossover audience that not a lot of metal bands enjoy, even landing the group a support slot last summer for Guns 'N Roses. "It's the versatility of the music," Martin said. "We've opened for Buckcherry, and then we've been out with Cannibal Corpse. We can go do whatever.

"We've never been about trends or clothes or dances that you're doing onstage," he continued. "It's just like, 'Let's write a song that will stick.' Even if you don't like the song, it's going to stick in your head."

Some metalheads aren't keen on the idea of All That Remains becoming more accessible. Martin is aware of that but he also doesn't care.

"You've always got those people that are mad if you're singing too much or you're into something that's not heavy enough for them -- complaining about a song that's too light or too soft," he said. "And then they're like, 'Man, I can't get it out of my head, though.' I still consider that a victory."

Daily News correspondent