One Step Closer Wilkes Barre, PA
One Step Closer has always believed that hardcore is limitless. On All You Embrace, the band puts that theory into practice. Every release from the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania band has seen them exploring the sonic overlaps of hardcore, emo, and ‘90s alternative rock without an iota of self-consciousness, or pretension, creeping into the mix. “We know what we want to do with the band,” says vocalist Ryan Savitski. “We’re just naturally writing what feels right to us.” What feels right is All You Embrace, a collection of 11 songs that show One Step Closer reaching for something deeply honest and, as always, authentic.
With founding members Savitski and guitarist Ross Thompson at the helm of One Step Closer, alongside newest addition Colman O’Brien, the three were able to fearlessly guide One Step Closer in new directions. “There was never a conversation about us trying to sound more emo or sound more hardcore, it was just us doing what we were feeling and fully committing to that,” says Thompson. With All You Embrace, that commitment is palpable. It’s why you can hear every element of One Step Closer throughout the record, as they expound upon every idea until each one has achieved its full potential. The result is a record that’s bigger, catchier, and moodier than anything they’ve done before, while still feeling exactly like One Step Closer.
“I wanted to showcase One Step Closer in its fullest state,” says Savitski. “Every single part of the band, I wanted it to be there. I wanted us to be 100% ourselves and be as authentic to our band as we could possibly be.” For fans of From Me To You, there are songs like “Blur My Memory,” which show the passionate melodic hardcore the band built its name on is still part of the program. But it’s immediately followed by “The Gate,” a song that taps into the expansive reaches the band hinted at on This Place You Know and put on full display with the powerful follow-up EP, Songs For The Willow.
Recorded with Jon Markson, who also played bass on the album, along with Connor McAuliffe on drums, All You Embrace finds One Step Closer refreshed and ready to try anything and everything. “No idea was shot down,” says Thompson, “We weren’t really thinking about if people were going to think we were lame for having a piano track on the record or for Ryan singing more. We tried everything to make it sound as good as we possibly could.”
In addition to the masterful ears of Markson, the band did two separate writing sessions with Knocked Loose’s Isaac Hale and Citizen’s Mat Kerekes. Across three songs each, Hale and Kerekes helped One Step Closer embrace their sonic evolution, giving the band full permission to commit to their distinct vision. “This was the first time we’d ever done something like this,” says Savitski. These collaborative environments, working with songwriters they’d long respected, allowed One Step Closer to take bigger swings and approach the album with a newfound clarity. “They helped push us and give us the courage to take some of these creative leaps,” says Thomspon.
The leaps made in the music reflect the lyrical themes that Savitski dug into throughout All You Embrace. “I don’t feel like a kid anymore, he says. “There’s been so much change since the last record—losing members, losing relationships, losing friends, touring a lot, seeing your friends and family less—and this record captures all the changes in our lives since then.” But for all that loss, One Step Closer found ways to regroup and rebuild. With the addition of O’Brien on guitar prior to Songs for the Willow, Savitski and Thompson found themselves a new creative partner. At every step of the process, O’Brien didn’t just fill a void, he became an indispensable part of One Step Closer’s backbone.
“We’ve lost things, but we’ve given and we’ve gained things, and it’s capturing all of those emotions into a set of songs. With change, you have to either embrace it or deal with it, but all the change for us was for the right reasons.” That cumulative feeling of loss, growth, and hard-earned perspective is what makes songs like “Leap Years” so moving. It allows Savitski to dig into the feelings of people entering and exiting his life, in the same way he taps in and out of worlds while on tour.
By the record’s end, the one-two punch of “Giant’s Despair” and “So Far From Me” fills the album with a bittersweet feeling of one journey ending just as another is about to begin. In each chorus of “So Far From Me” when Savitski sings, “But when it swallows me whole tonight / I’ll just keep on running / Back again see you soon / And the next time to say goodbye / Goodbye,” his words carry even more weight. You’ve seen exactly where he’s been and what lies ahead, all in one album.
Taken in full, All You Embrace is the sound of One Step Closer honoring their past while building a future that looks more open, more creative, and more expansive. It’s a place where records like Start Today, Diary, and Floral Green are all in conversation with one another. “We’ve honed in on a central vibe and aesthetic that really speaks to all of us,” says Thompson. “It encapsulates exactly who we’ve become.” When asked who that is, Thompson answers swiftly and decisively, “We’re One Step Closer, a straight edge band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.” Sometimes the answers you’re searching for are right in front of you all along.