Album Review :
All or Nothing - A City Built On Its Dead

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Band: All or Nothing
Title: A City Built On Its Dead
Label: Ethos Records
Release Date: 2009
Review By: Steve

Tracklisting:

  1. It’s Only Blood
  2. The Devil Is In The Room
  3. Will Of The Gods
  4. Terror On Every Side
  5. The Attack Plan
  6. Without Walls
  7. Legacy
  8. A Million Venomous Snakes
  9. Nations
  10. Truth I Never Wanted To Speak

Six months ago I had never heard of All or Nothing then one day I read a post from Brandon about All or Nothing and Ethos Records. So I went and checked out their MySpace page and fell in love with their music immediately. After listening to a few songs I wanted to grab my wife and start moshing in my living room. I am glad I didn’t because she probably would have either called the cops, filed for divorce or both, so I chose to control myself for the moment. At that point I knew that this was an album that I had to have. To my surprise my pre-order came two weeks early instead of the usual day or two before.

At the time of recording, All or Nothing was a five-piece hardcore/metal band out of Hollister, California. Currently they are a three-piece looking for a new bass player and choosing not to replace one of their guitarists. Musically, All or Nothing is extremely brutal. Heavy on the double bass pedal with lots of metal riffs while also throwing in plenty of hardcore break beats and stops. Throw in some great deep and intense vocals and this makes for a great album. One of the things I like about All or Nothing is their unashamed boldness and love for Christ. I recently read in an interview with them that when asked if Christ had any place in the hardcore scene, their answer was basically “where sin abounds, grace abounds that much more.” What an awesome answer!

It is hard to pick one stand out track because all of the tracks are good. If I had to pick a favorite song or two they would be “Terror On Every Side” and “A Million Venomous Snakes” because All or Nothing does the best job of mixing hardcore and metal in these songs.  In addition, they alternate the tempo with some fast and slow beats to really keep you off guard and on the edge of your seat.

Lyrically, All or Nothing sings about the sin and corruption this world embraces and how we must fight back against this evil with every bone in our body through the power of Jesus Christ.  My favorite lyrics in the whole album come from both the songs mentioned above.  At the end of “Terror On Every Side.”  Elijah screams, “Consuming fire here I am.  / I’ll fight back now and I’ll set it ablaze. / Pierce death in its heart.  / Overcome this lake of fire.  / This is between you and me. / You can’t hold me down now and you’ll never succeed. / This is the battle of all times. / Your face trembles at my whisper. / Your face trembles at my whisper. / Tonight the murderer repays his debts  / and the moon bleeds for innocence. / My enemy the wrath of the Hand of God is upon you now.”  In “A Million Venomous Snakes” Elijah screams about how easy and attractive a life of sin is, “her venom is so addicting.  / The way down is through her,  / she digs your grave. / One glance and you’re dead, / she digs your grave.  / This is your last chance, make your move. / This is your last chance, make your move. / This is your last chance, make your move. / The downfall, the lies, the beauty,  / they’re only skin-deep. / I rather dig out my eyes, break my arm, than fall a slave to sin.” The metaphors All or Nothing uses in their songs are awesome because they are still straight forward Christian and are not left up to the listener to try and find some Christian connection in them.

Overall: This is a great hardcore/metal debut album for All or Nothing. These guys definitely have the sound and potential to be a big player on the Christian hardcore/metal scene. This is an album that I knew was going to be decent but it turned out being a lot better than I thought it was going to be. All or Nothing reminds me a lot like early War of Ages, xDeathstarx, and a little like No Innocent Victim.

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