Tuesday, October 9, 2012

As I Lay Dying - Awakened

So As I Lay Dying hit the 10 year mark last year, but thankfully they didn't shell out an album real quick to mark the occasion, instead they released an EP with three pretty solid new songs on it. This gave us a taste of what would be coming on the next album and satiated our palates for the time being. Now the time has come for their fifth studio album, Awakened, to be released. So obviously with a band this big, the question is ‘how does it hold up?’

When As I Lay Dying released Frail Words Collapse I thoroughly enjoyed the album, but then Shadows Are Security released and I was blown away. It was my favorite album. Then An Ocean Between Us Released and it became my favorite album, and then The Powerless Rise followed suit. Something about Awakened though doesn't quite put it over for me. It’s by no means a bad album, it just doesn't have the same wow factor I suppose. I don’t mean that to say that As I Lay Dying are becoming stale, I think it’s more similar to Lamb Of God’s latest release, the band know their sound thoroughly and aren't doing a whole lot to break that mold. It’s a ‘safe’ album I suppose you could say.

Now don’t let that distress you. As I Lay Dying are still easily one of the best in metalcore and metal as a whole. This album is by no means a generic chug fest, the writing is smart, the songs are catchy, and the energy is great.

One thing that’s made the band who they are is the vocals. Tim Lambesis has a hell of a scream, and in my opinion is the best vocalist metalcore has to offer. His low vocals bring a lot to the table and really round out their music. The first track 'Cauterize' establishes his ferocity from the first second and he holds your attention all throughout. The other side of their vocals lies in the cleans provided by Josh Gilbert are far more favorable than most other clean vocalists in metalcore because they don’t come across as incredibly whiny. Although I must say I’m not a fan of the intro for 'Tear Out My Eyes' because of the corny clean vocal section, but the track before it 'My Only Home' is one of my favorite on the album and is rather catchy.

As for guitar work things are still in tip top shape. Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso are still at the top of their game in terms of writing. Nick provides a few excellent solo’s here and there such as the few we get on ’Resilience’. Jordan Mancino's drumming is also still a beast on the drumset. As expected he provides some excellent fills and solid footwork, a notable track being 'A Greater Foundation'.

As I Lay Dying have perfected their sound and continue to work with it. They continue produce very solid and memorable records, without regurgitating the same breakdown ridden formula over and over. I wouldn't say Awakened is better than the previous two albums, but I would venture to say that it only solidifies their place at the top of the food chain and ensures they aren't leaving for a while.

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