As I Lay Dying

Awakened

Written by: AP on 27/09/2012 14:31:37

When it comes consistency, As I Lay Dying stand second to none. In their twelve years of existence, the San Diego, CA based metalcore band have established themselves as one of the premier acts in the genre with five rock solid albums, including the genre classic "Shadows Are Security", against which most, if not all contemporary metalcore releases are assessed. As such, it should come as no surprise, the almost frightening solidity of this sixth record "Awakened", nor the band's refusal to depart much from their tried and tested formula.

In fact, there are just two notable differences between "Awakened" and its predecessor "The Powerless Rise". One is the staggering velocity at which it gallops forth, as you'll be at pains to find one song on it that isn't driven by an unrelenting barrage of pummeling double pedals and inhumanly fast shredding. There are brief moments designed for catching your breath in the likes of "Resilience", "Overcome" and "Defender", but generally the idea is to prove that Jordan Mancino can hammer his kit even more furiously than you had thought, and Phil Sgrosso and Nick Hipa can play their razor sharp staccato riffs even faster than you had imagined. On the surface of it then, it seems like As I Lay Dying have no interest in diversifying the onslaught. But despite the clinical precision with which the songs are executed and the sterile production, the outcome is surprisingly impressive, as "Awakened" plays almost like a best of compilation. There simply isn't a song here that doesn't evoke an instant reaction. This is the second difference: there is no significant drop in quality across the eleven songs.

Of course it is arguable that the extreme similarity, both between the material here and on previous outings, and within "Awakened" itself, is cause for some concern as the songs do have a slight tendency to blend together. But on the other hand, it is just as easy to unearth definitive highlights; songs like "Cauterize", "Resilience" and "Defender", which combine the characteristic clean singing of bassist Josh Gilbert with a seemingly endless supply of melodic leads based on the Gothenburg palette. And the songs that don't stand out equally as much during a full listening session, such as "A Greater Foundation", "Wasted Words" and "My Only Home", still carry enough individual strength to not become victims of saturation. The predominant advantage of "Awakened" is the experience of the musicians behind it; it is nigh impossible to find metalcore played with more skill and understanding of the genre's basic principles than the stuff churned out by As I Lay Dying here.

Forget the excessive chugging and breakdowns of contemporary metalcore - this is the original sound of the genre given modern colours. It is an album with indefinite lasting value thanks to its simple, yet effective song structures, not to mention an album with the capacity to impress even the most stern opponents of the metalcore genre. Sharp, intense and full of lush melody, yet persistently heavy, "Awakened" is the hallmark of experience and expertise - the primary hindrance for most of their contemporary peers. At the same time however, its greatest strength is also its main pitfall, as the band's uncompromising approach to songwriting has the inevitable effect that the album, when listened to from beginning to end, starts to sound too formulaic come the closing piece "Tear Out My Eyes".

8

Download: Cauterize, A Greater Foundation, Resilience, Overcome, Defender
For the fans of: Miss May I, Parkway Drive, Unearth
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.09.2012
Metal Blade Records

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