Sound — 9
It's been 2 years since As I Lay Dying released "Shadows are Security". Since then, they've been touring nonstop, writing, and dealing with the departure of bassist Clint Norris. Due to this, the band has changed their sound. AILD used to be known for being a pretty heavy metalcore band doing everything from growls to the typical metalcore chorus to breakdowns. Now, they've added a heavy thrash element to their sound that makes them sound even better. As for the reasoning behind the change in direction, Tim Lambesis (vocals) is quoted as saying: "(We) spent some time listening to our last album [2005's Shadows Are Security] and, just from being on tour, we became a little bit jaded by how the genre as a whole has sort of copied itself over and over again. We decided we wanted to be more diverse, even down to the point where we sort of felt like we should really focus on writing songs in different categories, and then pick the best songs from those categories and use them for the record." From the two solos in the opening track (actually the second on the CD, but the first is an instrumental piece), you can tell AILD's gone through some changes, and I'd have to say, they're welcome.
Lyrics — 9
Lyrics on older AILD albums I've alway enjoyed (to a certain extent). They've never really been earth shatteringly contemplative (at least, to me), but they've gotten the job done. On this record though, they've been bumped up a few notches. The first single from the album, "Nothing Left" deals with humanity and it's obsession with pursuing material satisfaction. Again, Lambesis is quoted as saying; "I originally wrote the lyrics describing the certain decay of the world around us. While more and more people pursue meaningless relationships and desire for material things, I've realized that we have "nothing left" in common." The other lyrics are just as good (although cover different themes, from betrayals to relationships). Still, I think it is better than previous lyrics.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, I can't complain. This album is excellant. AILD have evolved (and not in the Avenged Sevenfold way of making their music super commercial), and it's definitely a good thing. As guitarist Nick Hipa said: "Collectively we've all pushed ourselves, and we're all doing things that we weren't even capable of doing on the last record. And on top of just experimenting and trying different things, I think we just wrote some pretty sick jams, so I'm happy with it. That's all I can say. For kids who like our band and think they know what to expect from us, it might throw them off a little bit. I encourage anybody who likes our band to approach this album with an open mind." So, in conclusion, old AILD fans and those new to AILD's music should definitely check out this album. Undoubtebly, there will be something you'll like (hell, if you're a guitarist or drummer you'll at least dig the music aspect of it).