The world of metalcore has grown into a huge ocean of music with each new year. It seems as if more and more musical fish join the already crowded waters and swim around aimlessly. In order to survive, those fish need to stand out somehow or they fall prey to the Great White music industry and are swallowed up and never heard from again. For a band like As I Lay Dying, they have learned better than many others how to stand out and survive.
The band has come a long way since their debut album Beneath the Encasing of Ashes back in 2001. Their 2010 release The Powerless Rise was highly praised by critics and fans alike. As a thank you to their fans and to mark their ten year, the guys released Decas in 2011 which features new songs, covers and remixes. The new songs only wetted the appetites of the fans and created more anticipation for their new album. Well, the wait is finally over as the band is prepared to unleash Awakened onto the world. Yes, it was well worth the wait.
The album, which was produced by Bill Stevenson (NOFX/Rise Against), opens with the first single “Cauterize”. I love how the song starts with what appears to be a “deep breath”. Yeah, you better take a deep breath and hold on because this is about to get very interesting. What an excellent way to start off the album. This song combines all the intensity that you would expect from the band. Lead vocalist Tim Lambesis delivers as he always does. There’s also a great mix of clean vocals too by Josh Gilbert. Throw in a breakdown and a killer solo and this song is near perfect!
Second song up is “A Greater Foundation” and features more of the same. The guitar work between Phil Sgrosso and Nick Hipa is strong and they manage to keep those riffs, which are plentiful, sounded fresh and not just rehash. “Resilience” is a stand-out track as it’s one of many that show how the band has grown on the lyrical front. I love the intro on this song as the guitar work is strong and melodic before crashing into intensity.
“Wasted Words” brings to mind Slayer when I first heard the riff in it. This is a kick-ass song and the clean vocals even manage to feel right at home in the chorus. The clean vocals on the chorus are one thing that the band manages to do right where as other bands in the genre come up short. “Overcome” is a personal favorite on here as the guitar intro is really different. Add some great drum elements and great backing vocals and this song is a strong example of how this band is standing out. The album closes strong with “Tear Out My Eyes” as it seems that all the elements that make this band such a standout come together for one massive number.
I think that this album will make a lot of fans extremely happy. Tim Lambesis really doesn’t pull it surprises on this album, but he does what he does best. He delivers a strong performance as he always does. He really doesn’t stray from what’s made him a great vocalist in this field. Drummer Jordan Mancino delivers as well and displays more depth than just crashing the skins repeatively.
Bassist Josh Gilbert's bass playing seems to get lost in the production. You can definitely hear him at the beginning of “Defender”, but it’s hard to hear him throughout the entire album. Maybe it’s just my advance copy and it’s compressed too much but I would like to hear other people feedback on that aspect. As far as the guitar work of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, it’s stellar. As I said earlier, these guys deliver in abundance and it doesn’t get old or redundant.
The guys have really stepped it up on this new album and have grown. The songwriting is definitely a progression as the songs seem to be, I hope you‘re setting down, catchy. They have somehow managed to write songs that are intense, brutal and at the same time, catchy. I definitely can see this album being on many “Best of 2012” lists at the end of the year. My hat’s off to the guys and my horns are raised high and I say job well done.