Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review of "Awakened" by As I Lay Dying

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1. Cauterize
2. A Greater Foundation
3. Resilience
4. Wasted Words
5. Whispering Silence
6. Overcome
7. No Lungs to Breathe
8. Defender
9. Washed Away
10. My Only Home
11. Tear Out My Eyes

Global metal titans As I Lay Dying kick off their second decade together with Awakened, the sixth and hands-down most powerful release of a stunning career. Seething with metallic vitriol, overflowing with energy, and rich with the kind of melody that irrevocably implants itself in the listener's mind, it is the sound of a band pushing themselves to outdo everything that has come before, be it their own previous work, or that of their contemporaries, and daring all to do better. From the flurry of blastbeats and mauled guitar that kick off opener "Cauterize" to the epic darkness of closer "Tear Out My Eyes", the musicianship and arrangements are consistently riveting, the band showcasing their strengths while subtly introducing thrilling new elements to their sound. "There's nothing totally out of left-field, we just refined our songwriting and incorporated some ideas that bring a real freshness to the record," Sgrosso states. "We wanted something that was a lot bigger and more open sounding, and that's exactly what we achieved." Lyrically speaking, Awakened sees Lambesis move away from the outward themes of The Powerless Rise, in favor of a more introspective approach. While his lyrics have always had far more relevance to fans than those of most metal bands, delving deeper and rewarding repeat listens; Lambesis admits that Awakened is a far darker, more pessimistic beast. But this does not mean that there is not positivity to be found in this approach: "On this record, I wasn't purposefully trying to be negative, but I think sometimes we have to be honest with some of the darker and more difficult times of our lives to get back to that positivity. While the lyrics do perhaps seem like a dark window into my soul, they're written that way specifically because I want to move on and transcend those difficult moments in life." While on their previous records the band spent an average of two months in the studio, this time out they had only a three and a half week window between tours to track all eleven songs. Understandably, this placed a great deal of pressure on the proceedings, but that pressure added to the urgency of the recordings, and in the band's opinion, lead to a more streamlined, more aggressive, and overall better record. Sgrosso and Lambesis concur that it is also the first album by the band that all five members can wholly get behind. "On our past albums there's always a couple of songs we dread getting requests for because they're not our favorites to play live, but that's not the case with this record. If we needed to choose five for a set we could pick any five and all of them would go over great live," Lambesis states. "This feels like a record that we could finally play from start to finish live" Sgrosso adds, "and the fact that we've managed to do that with this record makes us all extremely proud."
 - Bio written by Dan Slessor

Being a fan of the three new songs off of their anniversary album “Decas,” I kind of had high hopes going in. The album starts off with the really in your face with the melodic fee of “Cauterize.” The breakdown was alright, and solo after it made up for it. I like the drumming at the beginning as well as the chugging that kicked off “A Greater Foundation,” the next track. After that it goes straight into some more melodic bits. I like that As I Lay Dying has stayed heavy even though they’ve started becoming more melodic over the years. The bit in the middle and onward is very upsetting, the clean screaming with lighter guitars ruins the otherwise heavy track.

I really like the sweep riff in this “Resilience”, and it’s one of my favourites because of it. The solo early on is also a great touch and it’s a heavy track for the most part. The melodic thrash feel I got from the beginning of “Wasted Words” was awesome. I really like the chugging over melodic riffs and although this song isn’t too heavy I enjoyed how it flowed. “Whispering Silence” has really catchy riffs and the solo is really amazing. The rhythm and drums accompanying it makes that whole part really enjoyable. The track ends on a breakdown which was a little lacklustre, I felt it lacked creativity.

The intro with the lead diddle, on “Overcome,” was really incredible and I loved it. The drumming in this song really caught my ear, the guitars as well. This track was full of awesome, the fast little melodic bits were really, especially so. The solo in this song makes it perfect, definitely another favourite track. The intro drum roll and melodic leading into chugs over top of it was great to begin “No Lungs to Breathe.” This song is mostly just breakdowns with chorus chants, the solo at the end didn’t save it.  “Defender” had a bass intro, with a solo after which was nice. I lost interest as soon as the clean vocals came in. The breakdown with a melodic bit was probably the best part in the song, breakdowns with more too them appeal to me.

“Washed Away” is a little acoustic diddle to lead into the next track “My Only Home.” The transition is great and flowed well off of the prior instrumental. This track has its heavy and melodic moments and I like the bit half way through leading into a couple nice solos. The lead and acoustic diddle with the clean vocals really didn’t bode well with me. I am not feeling the intro at all, as I thought the “woah” chant was very cheesy and horrid. I do however like the chugging bits and melodic riffs as well as the solo. As an album finishing track they definitely left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

I may have been a little harsh through this album, but the As I Lay Dying I know and love from the “Frail Words Collapse” era is gone. I even enjoyed “Decas” which has better tracks than this album but I really can’t fully get into this album at all and its quite a shame that I cannot.

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