A Similar, Yet Functional, Foundation
Metalcore has, at this point, become the hair metal of this generation. It has achieved a mainstream popularity, it’s heavy without being terrifying, complex without being progressive and just this side of radio-friendly. It also has a tendency to be very homogenous. Purveyors of the genre, like San Diego’s As I Lay Dying, have a distinct sound, and to stray too far from it would prove disastrous. It’s this mentality that created their sixth studio album, Awakened.
Opener “Cauterize” features the band’s signature combination of melodic death metal guitars, driving drums, mosh-inducing breakdowns, and the dual assault of vocalist Tim Lambesis’ harsh screams and bassist Josh Gilbert’s clean vocals. “A Greater Foundation” has a very catchy shout-along section, slightly marred by Gilbert’s emo-style chorus. “Wasted Words” mixes thrash verses with a Middle Eastern sounding chorus, while “Whispering Silence” embraces a punk and hard rock aesthetic, with unobtrusive guitar countermelodies, and the obligatory “big” guitar solo. “No Lungs To Breathe” has a very cool opening riff and supremely singalong chorus, and “Defender” allows Gilbert to stretch out on the bass, as well as featuring his clean vocals almost entirely throughout the song. Finally, “Tear Out My Eyes” is about as punk as it gets at first blush, laden with Offspring-style “whoa-o” vocals, before segueing into heavy breakdowns and a feedback ending.
Make no mistake; As I Lay Dying is one of the best bands for metalcore out there. However, they have a sound that fans have come to expect, and as such, they rarely, if ever, stray from it. Fans of the band, as well as modern mainstream metalcore will absolutely love Awakened. If metalcore isn’t your scene, then this record certainly won’t change your mind.