As I Lay Dying
24 September 2012
by David Keevill
As I Lay Dying have consistently trodden water on the edges of higher acclaim. Whilst they have shown a technical proficiency undoubtedly born, at least in part, from frontman Tim Lambesis’ instrumental polygamy, the music has always lacked innovation and heart. In short: AILD is a band whose potential has never quite been reflected in their studio output.
But then Awakened comes barrelling out of your speakers, and for a second, you’re thrown; opener ‘Cauterize’ wastes no time with fleshy intro tracks as Lambesis’ scream opens up the record, setting a pace to measure the remainder against. Yes, the musical fare is a relentless mash of stomping (albeit fairly middle-of-the-road) riffs, screaming ire and mandatory clean vocals, but that is not all. Whereas many of the screams-to-singing-to-breakdown lot repeat and regurgitate endless traits of metalcore and sound tired for it, Awakened is, as its title suggests, not sluggish in any way. When the slamming rate does drop, as on ‘Resilience’ and ‘Overcome’, the respite is a false horizon with jagged peaks lying behind it. The immediacy of it pounds AILD’s one-two punch of guitar and hate-flecked roars through the soft tissue of your ear drum and straight into your brain; it’s an indelicate, but satisfying experience.
What’s more, As I Lay Dying have lessened the sickening lurches between harsh screams and the soaring vocals of bassist Josh Gilbert. When Gilbert takes the lead on ‘Defender’, it doesn’t feel like a contrived and deliberate attempt to break the pace up, but instead fits as part of Awakened’s complete package. The damnably catchy chorus of ‘My Only Home’ even has flashes of pop-punk, and still manages to avoid sounding incongruous.
Watch the video to ‘A Greater Foundation’ by As I Lay Dying:
Yet, for all the advances that this album makes from As I Lay Dying’s previous efforts, there’s still very little to convince the listener that Awakened is really anything but the band going through the motions very efficiently. This soulless barrage has no real sticking power, and whilst the kineticism is initially exciting, the meaningless lyrics convey very little that really appeals to the listener. Whilst Lambesis and his crew might be efficiently pragmatic at whittling an album to the necessary essentials, they still are yet to create anything truly exhilarating and essential.
Sounds Like: Unearth.
Top Tracks: Wasted Words, Whispering Silence.