Mostly cookie-cutter Metalcore with moments of magic.
As I Lay Dying – Awakened
“As I lay dying” return with their new album “Awakened” and prove that the metal-core movement is still very much alive. The San Diego five-piece have been around since the year 2000, so twelve years in the business will give you a bedrock of experience in the ever changing music world. The album “Awakened” is the bands sixth full release and is everything you have come to expect from such a band.
I have been a fan of the band since 2005 and their release of “Shadows Are Security” and is easily, still, my favourite album from the band but upon hearing their new one, I was very intrigued to see where they are at these days. There are many bands that come under the banner of metal-core and you can pick and choose how you like to hear it; for instance “Killswitch Engage”, in my opinion are the fore fathers of such a movement from the US and of course “Caliban” represent Europe with their slant on the genre. Both are great bands, but sound really different within the genre. This is where “As I Lay Dying” has the edge over other American bands within the metal-core genre, you recognise their sound instantly. Many would disagree with that, but I maintain if you are a fan of the genre, you can definitely tell them apart and even with subtle nuances like the “sub” style “booms” you hear dotted through all of AILD albums, which definitely adds some girth to their sound.
So to the album and eleven tracks of mainstream metal-core; that’s not a bad thing in some cases, because you know where you are with it and it would appear they have gone back to what they delivered in 2005. They had a style and sound that was both chunky and melodic, with an abundance of beat-downs and melody to sway to. This genre defining characteristic is what makes it popular, the varied emotion that it conjures; fans like it and it cuts across live, which is very important. The album is indeed a great listen and is produced well, giving that rich and clean sound that allows all the instruments to flow as they were intended. There are some moments of classic metal, with sweeping solo’s, the likes that “Trivium” always bombard us with, but AILD dying have done the right amount to compliment what they are doing with sounding to focused one persons finger ability. The vocals, in the heavy sense, are indeed great and what one would expect from the band and the shouting gang vocals are immense. My only gripe is the clean melodic vocals, which are a bit whiny at times. I would love to hear bands like these, do those vocals again but a full octave down. It’s a small point, but does add in the mix. Imagine not adding “vanilla essence” to your cake mix; doesn’t seem like a lot and the cake would be fine but I’m sure you would miss it.
So to recap; the album is a great listen, nice and heavy, well produced and is a new and mature record from a veteran metal-core band. It does what it says on the tin and if you are a fan of the band you won’t be disappointed and even if you have never heard AILD, I’m sure you will quickly be converted, but it does have its niche listeners.