As I Lay Dying

An Ocean Between Us

Written by: PP on 19/09/2007 04:06:09

Finally it's here. The review of As I Lay Dying's highly anticipated new album "An Ocean Between Us", the album where the band got tired of metalcore (to an extent) and took a complete change in direction. This massive change has provoked outrageous reaction from the internet press, with about three quarters of the webzines rating it shockingly low, and one quarter praising it to the skies. As usual, this magazine takes the golden halfway point (though slightly leaned at the minority). So here goes.

Out with metalcore, in with thrash metal. Sort of. Much discussion went on around the internet about the band's public comments how they got tired of the genre and wanted to write something more challenging. To an extent, that is exactly what they did. "Nothing Left" and the title track are absolute monsters, racing at about three times the speed we're used to from the band. It's not like "Shadows Are Security" was slow, but it wasn't full on double-pedals at thrash metal speeds either. There are less breakdowns and clean choruses, countered with more brutal vocals and the most complex guitar melodies this band has written to date. This is part of the reason why the album has gotten so much slack; I myself had to first hear these songs live before making up my mind.

At first, the change is scary. The band's full-blown metal assault is a bit too much to intake after singing along to "Confined" or drooling after the metalcore classic "Forever". Those were two very instantly catchy songs, easy to like, and impossible to forget. The material on "An Ocean Between Us" is none of that. Ten listens into "Within Destruction" and I still didn't like it - it all suddenly just clicked together sometime between the 10th and 20th listen before I fully understood the impressive development the band has undergone artistically.

These songs are probably the best metalcore songs possible to write if I was only to judge them on an artistic level. Just listen to the smoothed out high-pitch intro guitars of "Forsaken", and notice how they flawlessly transition into a killer bass-heavy riff thrown at you in lightning speed. The cleanly sung bridge is massive, and the following breakdown into Lambesis' brutal growling chorus is humongous, and absolutely the best breakdown you'll hear this year.

But is that enough? What about all of us who really wanna hear another "Forever" or "Behind Me Lies Another Fallen Soldier"?

Sadly, we are forgotten. Metalcore / hardcore hybrid influences haven't been abandoned entirely, but gone are the days of banging your head to amazing hooks while scraming from the top of your lungs "I HAVE TRAVELED!!!!!" as in "Meaning For Tragedy". I know I say that the whole metalcore scene is dying a lot, but really, As I Lay Dying are / were the best metalcore band out there, and the one I thought could survive the genre's freefall. Their previous albums have all been as solid as metalcore ever gets, and their legacy is uncontested by any other band in their genre; over 250,000 copies sold of each "Frail Words Collapse" and "Shadows Are Security" speaks mountains.

I would've loved to have seen the band stay in their pre-defined style and write another "Forever" or "94 Hours". This is the biggest problem of "An Ocean Between Us". It's a fantastic album, and many parts of it work insanely well both live and on record, but it just isn't As I Lay Dying. It's too fast, too ambitious in instrumental complexity and too eager to rid itself of the metalcore image to be to my taste. The instrumental track "Departed" sums up my feelings for this album nicely: the high pitched dual guitar scales are beautiful... but they sound like they were written by Darkest Hour. "An Ocean Between Us" is an otherwise incredible album, but it's just not what I wanted from this band, and hence, the grade is unusually low for this band on Rockfreaks.net

8

Download: Wrath Upon Ourselves, Forsaken, An Ocean Between Us
For the fans of: Parkway Drive, Himsa, Remembering Never, Evergreen Terrace
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.08.2007
Metal Blade
Provided by Target ApS

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