Sound — 6
As I Lay Dying over time have really cemented their name into the metal-core genre, but they have always managed to add something extra into their music so they managed to stand out. Each album was an improvement as time went on as the band matured. While I can say that this is a solid album, I can't say they really went too far into maturing direction this time around. The sound is exactly what we have come to expect from the band. Each predecessor album had its very own individual sound, and looking back, no two albums sound the same. In this case, it is a blend of "The Powerless Rise" and "Frail Words Collapse", from my perspective. The guitar riffs are great, the bass lines are great, the drumming is great, the vocals are great, but something is missing. In general, the band seems to follow a certain song structure and pretty much uses it for just about every song, so there's not enough variety. I have listened to the album all the way through probably five time prior to writing this article, and I still have a hard time distinguishing which song is which. It's not to say that they're not quality in their own respects, but if the band shook things up around a little bit, it wouldn't hurt them. My biggest complaint about this entire album is that its leaning towards mainstream metal-core. The album is filled with breakdowns, something they had almost completely left behind since 2005's "Shadows Are Security" and Josh Gilbert's singing, while impressive and fitting for the band, has almost overtaken Tim Lambesis' screams at point, something that we aren't used to as fans. Bands evolve into the kinds of bands they want to, for themselves, and that is exactly what they should be doing, so I can't blame them for making this album the way they want to. They're called artists because they create the art in their minds, not just what other people want to do. Besides the complaints, instrumentally-wise, songs worth checking out are "A Greater Foundation", which is their second single off the album, and has a music video for it, "No Lungs To Breathe", and "Overcome". I give it a 6 mainly because I feel they are a better band than the work they have released this time around.
Lyrics — 9
Before I get to the lyrics, I want to briefly mention that Tim's screams and Josh's singing are better than ever. Josh's range has definitely widened out, and Tim's screams have as well. His highs are perfect this time around. The band has always been one that puts heavy and hard hitting music to very deep lyrics, and this time around it is no difference. I have always said that they're not just lyrics written out, they're well-crafted poems, cleverly worded to appeal to the listener. For example, in "Wasted Words", the lyrics mainly speak of the hardships and sadness one goes through life, through trying to follow their dreams in hopes of dying with no regrets. "The price of attachment in pursuit of dreams/ that I so often can't seem to remember/ yet there are days when beauty can not be contained/ it even crawls out from under ordinary things." Also worth noting is the lyrics of "Defender": "You can justify almost anything/ if you are willing to be loud enough/ but once you've spent everything/ to change the world around you/ even if your voice is taken away/ such actions will still inspire." Perhaps I am a little biased in giving this section a 9 because I have always been a fan of their lyrical work, but I feel the lyrics are very powerful in this case as well. If you look them up for other songs as well, you won't be disappointed.
Overall Impression — 7
As mentioned earlier, compared to the levels where they should be now, this album is a bit of a fluke. In the end, it is still a very solid album, and I would highly recommend it to any AILD fan. However, when you compare it to the raw energy of "Frail Words Collapse" or "An Oceans Between Us", it is very difficult to say that this is the band's best work so far. Perhaps if this was another band of lesser stature that released this, I would give it a higher rating, but I was personally expecting a lot more considering what they're capable of. As a hardcore fan, it is disappointing a bit, but I'm sure this album will be the gateway for many new fans to come that are just starting to get into the genre, ones who aren't quite ready to get into the heavier stuff AILD has released.