The Dead Lay Waiting

Almost Heaven

Written by: AP on 28/10/2011 19:57:29

Having pretty much butchered the band's debut album with a review that, in retrospect, could have been worded in a much less offensive manner, and subsequently been positively surprised by their live performance, I felt it would be appropriate to give The Dead Lay Waiting another chance to win me over on their sophomore album, "Almost Heaven". And while truthfully you still cannot call me convert, it is obvious that steps have been taken by the band to correct both their style and sound for the better.

There is still plenty of distance to cover before The Dead Lay Waiting can be considered a serious candidate in the race toward metalcore presidency, but as soon as "This Day Will Be Your Last" emerges from a baffling two introductory tracks, it becomes clear that The Dead Lay Waiting have undergone a significant maturing process since the godawful "We Rise". In general the sound remains rather trite, with your usual staccato riffs, deathcore tirades and triggered breakdowns dictating the name of the game, but there are moments where the band certainly makes an effort to be easier to like. "Take Me Away" and "Decaying King" both provide such moments, the former with nice ambient stylings, and the latter with welcome departures from Luke Lucas' former generic deep growling style, with rough, high-pitched yelling instead.

This vocal style suits Lucas much better than his piss poor attempts at sounding brutal, and were it not for the clean chorus, which casts unnecessary light on the band's total lack of eloquence when it comes to writing lyrics, "Burnt to Ashes" could even be considered the best song The Dead Lay Waiting have written to date. The failed attempt at impersonating extreme metal outfits on the following "Open Your Fucking Eyes" and "Always Ask Why", on the other hand, does them no favors - the clean sung sections on the latter are especially painful to listen to - highlighting the fact that while the band has made leaps and bounds in the past two years, the quality, which remains questionable at all times, still wavers too much across the album.

Most crucially "Almost Heaven" suffers from an acute failure to provide songs with a sense of purpose, be it to flash the skills of the band's musicians; grab the listener with a memorable hook or chorus; or demonstrate prowess in writing consistent and inventive songs. It all sounds too much like music written as an afterthought to being in a band, rather than music written from a burning passion to express something. As a result, songs like "Voices" come across as little more than a chaotic mesh of incoherent ideas as the band tries and fails to appeal to the fans of as many metal subcultures as possible. What is needed is a clear focus; something that lead single "The Days I'm Gone" and album highlights "Choke on Your Words" and "Almost Heaven" achieve to some extent.

What this review should tell you then, is that it is actually possible to write a serious and considered review about The Dead Lay Waiting at this stage in their career. You should also be able to gather that there are still many deficiencies in the band's sound preventing them from deserving high acclaim, the main culprits being a troubling lack of focus and a failure to distinguish the band in any meaningful way. With 15 songs in its tracklist, one way to prevent this from happening could have been to condense "Almost Heaven" by removing the pointless tracks, thus emphasizing those that show promise.

4

Download: Take Me Away, Decaying King, Burnt to Ashes, Choke on Your Words, Almost Heaven
For the fans of: Everything Burns, Raise These Sails, We Set the Sun
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.06.2011
Rising Records

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