As I Lay Dying

The Powerless Rise

Written by: PP on 08/06/2010 22:28:41

I've read so many good reviews of the highly anticipated As I Lay Dying album "The Powerless Rise" that I decided to listen to the record for another 10 or 12 times before writing this review after concluding my initial dozen listens, also because it's the first full length by the band that has failed to shake the very ground below me. In spite of that, the record still doesn't live up to the expectations one should have for a band widely considered to have held the throne of metalcore for nearly a decade.

On surface, "The Powerless Rise" feels like an excellent As I Lay Dying album. The guitar compositions and overall structure have both taken a step back from the more thrash-oriented "An Ocean Between Us" to further pursue the puritanical metalcore expression of both "Frail Words Collapse" and "Shadows Are Security", which helped elevate this band to the seminal status they enjoy today within the genre. Perhaps the regression is a result of the fan-response to the previous album? People liked the record, me included, but I believe I'm not alone in feeling like some of the passion and the in-your-face energy of their previous efforts was missing, replaced by polished production and studio wizardry. Do you remember those moments where you propelled yourself towards the barrier at the shows to scream every lyric to Lambesis' face? Where every riff resonated in the same pace as your heart? That's what has been missing for a while now.

That trend continues on "The Powerless Rise". It feels much less like a record jam-packed with emotionally-intense, break every wall around you-sort of sequences than like As I Lay Dying on autopilot. Essentially, "The Powerless Rise" could've been released in the 2003-2005 period - the metalcore surge - and it would've fit right in with other records seeing daylight back then. Tim Lambesis screams and growls in much larger proportion to the clean vocal choruses, and the guitars aren't trying to beat Slayer in speed and technicality, instead relying on tried-and-tested formula with a melodic leads and crunchy rhythm sections, just how we remember the band from before. Luckily for us, As I Lay Dying are a solid band renowned for their tightly recorded guitars and monstrous growls of Tim Lambesis, who is among the very best vocalists in the genre. These factors ensure that pretty much no matter what the band does, they're still going to write songs that can safely be assumed to belong to the upper quartile of the genre: "Parallels", "Anodyne Sea", "The Only Constant Is Change", "Upside Down Kingdom" and "The Plague" are the tracks that remind the listener of why you fell in love with this band in the first place. Technical-but-melodic lead guitar riffs, pedal-to-the-floor pace, and decipherable, but yet brutal screams of Lambesis make sure there's plenty going on within these tracks.

As for the rest of the album, the tracks feel either anonymous or like AILD-on-autopilot. Which is still good, but the question that lies ahead all of us is: "will we still be listening to these songs in a couple of months?". Me, I'll probably be sticking to the first three records and spin this occasionally, leaving the rating as "good" and "solid" but as one that's not a contestant for the top spots at the best albums of '10 list.


Download: Parallels, The Only Constant Is Change
For the fans of: All That Remains, August Burns Red, I Killed The Prom Queen
Listen: Myspace

Release date 11.05.2010
Metal Blade

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