For some time after the disappointment that was Decas
, I turned a blind eye to As I Lay Dying
. However, after witnessing and actively participating in the band’s set at the 2012
Festival, I once again found myself pumped and primed for the melodic metal titan’s next crack at mosh-worthy destruction.
On an average basis, As I Lay Dying
releases an official full-length roughly every two years. And
because they generally use the same writing basis: unforgiving metalcore with emphasis on ultra-melodic guitar leads and contrast between frenzy-filled verses and clean, measured choruses, the question time and time again is; why is this relevant in regards to previous albums?
Although for a band like As I Lay Dying
, who seem to be content with utilizing the same formula for all eternity (or at least for the time being), this question has a connotation closer to, “How many gems can the group pound out this time around?”, rather than, “How much are the group pushing the metalcore boundary to experimental heights?”. Like it or not, As I Lay Dying
are ahead of the pack as far as being exceptional at what they do. I mean, come on, they are essentially pioneers of metalcore. You wouldn't expect Cannibal Corpse
to suddenly slow down and fuck with the sound. No, As I Lay Dying
know exactly where their strengths lie, as they thoroughly demonstrate on’ Awakened
The album certainly puts its best foot forward by lining two of the band’s best tracks to date, ‘Cauterize
’ and ‘A Greater Foundation’ , front and center, conserving more progressive pieces for later on the record. Furthermore, ‘Awakened
’ displays something generally lacking on previous records; the band creates their most defined breakdowns so far, especially on the former of previously mentioned tracks and later on ‘Overcome
’. The rest of the album follows standard As I Lay Dying
format by the book, with sprinkled acoustic guitars and physically abused cymbals.
First off, I’ll tackle the guitars, naturally. For they are defining on any record the group puts out. One thing that momentously builds upon the platform that lets As I Lay Dying
stand above many other metalcore acts is the power and direction that each instrument pushes as a whole and the guitar work is certainly no exception. Why
is this so refreshing? Because as the genre grows obese with bands that have no direction or meaning behind a string of random breakdowns and frittering riffs, this group has purpose behind every lead and beat, whether it be to introduce a new part of the song or simply to expand upon the musical tapestry of ever track. And
this concept is most evident in the melodic, powerful guitar.
, the drums. Let’s get one thing straight: Jordan Mancino is not nice to his kit, and it’s evident on this album. I remember reading an interview with the stickman last year and being impressed with how many snare heads this guy breaks. Yet, as furious as every hit sounds, it’s not just random aggressive garbage; it’s focused aggressive mastery. Every fill and groove moves in harmony with the song and provides an infinitely spirited energy and mechanical congruence. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this album will keep plenty (including me), tapping pencils against tables and whole-heartedly air drumming.
Vocals are typical of any As I Lay Dying
release, with Tim Lambesis’s headstrong bellow juxtaposed with Josh Gilbert’s delicate croon. Lyrics are also habitual for the band, consisting mainly of the ideas of overcoming obstacles and/or improvement of society’s conscious, occasionally touched by more-faith oriented bits. As far as the bass goes, I don’t see a demanding need to approach it, as it meticulously follows the guitar melodies for the majority of the album.
Regardless of any formula this group this band is comfortable following, you can’t deny their remarkable consistency that they've preserved for over a decade. You know the bands that set a standard that heavily influences the metal spectrum and then slowly die out? Well, As I Lay Dying
isn't one of those. They laid the foundation for heaps of metalcore bands, and they still are one of the very best at what they do. Personally, ‘Shadows Are Security
’ and ‘The Powerless Rise
’ still reign as favorites, but ‘Awakened
’ is nothing short of a damn fine record. May their skull-adorned records long fill our shelves.