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Released: Sep 25, 2012
Label: Metal Blade
Number Of Tracks: 11
The sixth studio release by As I Lay Dying, "Awakened" is a strong release with melodic and thrash qualities not seen to this extent in many of their contemporaries. By far, this is the best metalcore release I have found so far in 2012.
AwakenedFeatured review by: UG Team, on september 25, 2012 5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: As I Lay Dying was founded in 2000 by guitarist and vocalist, Tim Lambesis, in California, and was originally just a duo with Tim and drummer, Jordan Mancino. Duties for the other instruments on their early recordings and shows were filled by a rotating group of friends. The current lineup of As I Lay Dying wasn't completed until 2007. They released their first album, "Beneath The Encasing Of Ashes", in 2001 through Pluto Records. In 2002 they released 5 songs on a split album with metal band, American Tragedy. In 2003, As I Lay Dying left Pluto Records and signed with Metal Blade Records who they remain with today. Their second studio release, "Frail Words Collapse", was released through Metal Blade Records in mid 2003. Since that time, As I Lay Dying has toured extensively in support of their music and as of "Awakened" this will be their sixth studio release, and the fifth with Metal Blade Records.
The sound of the album is definitely As I Lay Dying and by this I mean it is metalcore, but has strong melody for the genre, has elements of thrash and a really good mix of clean and screamed vocals. The music is still ultra aggressive but doesn't do aggression at the cost of finesse. The album is produced and mixed really well. There is something I see as a problem in the metalcore genre of albums being either extremely over or under produced, but with "Awakened" they seem to have found a happy medium. I've said it already, but what makes this album stand out from other metalcore releases this year is that there is a strong sense of melody, there are good guitar solos, and the mix of vocals is close to perfect. The drums are aggressive without falling into the trap of trying to kill the cymbals or doing fast triplets on the bass drum to the point of monotony. I tend to think of certain bands in certain genres as being representative of what is best in their respective genres and with "Awakened" As I Lay Dying has taken a step in that direction for metalcore. // 8
Lyrics: Tim Lambesis handles the main vocals which are the screamed vocals throughout the album. The clean vocals are handled by bassist, Josh Gilbert. Something that really stands out to me about As I Lay Dying, besides their awesome use of melody, is the way that Tim and Josh harmonize their vocals occasionally which is really unique with screamed metalcore vocals and clean vocals. Tim Lambesis definitely gets props for managing to be understandable with his metalcore vocals without losing his edge of aggression. I think that Tim Lambesis and Josh Gilbert have really found a method that works for them and gives their band an identity, from a vocal standpoint. Something else that Josh Gilbert pulls off on his clean vocals that a lot of bands don't manage with clean vocals he sings clean, but he doesn't sound like a boy band singer.
As far as a sample of lyrics, I thought I would share some of the lyrics from the song "Cauterize", which was the first single from the album. I don't think these are the best lyrics on the album, though the lyrics throughout are pretty much standard fare for metalcore the lyrics from "Awakened" are better than some and worse than others, but a pretty solid effort when all is said and done. Here are some lyrics from the song "Cauterized": "Go/ The truth of my heart/ is like a repressed tale/ A censored and silenced story/ repression or restraint/ it is a delicate balance/ between bleeding out what/ will make me drown/ and closing in what I cannot afford to spill/ either way, I must cauterize/ cauterize the open wound". That is the first verse, then the clean vocals come in with the chorus: "I'm caught between the feeling/ of being pulled apart/ or stuffed into a cell". Then we have the next verse: "And if these are the only options/ this will always be hell/ never ending/ though I still may be breathing/ there is no quality of life/ so I choose to risk it all for you/ for you to be by my side". Then it goes into the 2nd chorus, more verses, more choruses, etc. As I said, the lyrics aren't bad I've seen better and worse, but they stand up fairly well. // 7
Overall Impression: My favorite songs on the album are "Overcome", "Tear Out My Eyes", "Resilience" and "A Greater Foundation". My least favorite song on the album is the first single, "Cauterize". "Awakened" stands up well against its competition, as it definitely stays in the realm of metalcore, but has the additional elements of thrash and melody. I would recommend this album to anyone who is currently a fan of metalcore or a fan of As I Lay Dying. I would recommend this album to anyone who was just getting into metalcore, as it seems to be a good gateway band, too. I hope the band continues to make new albums and continues to tour. I would love to hear some of these songs live, and I feel like their individual voice is just starting to shine and help them stand apart. The standard version of the album has 11 tracks and a run time of just under 43 minutes. The version I was reviewing is the iTunes Limited Edition version that has two additional tracks "Unwound", which is a B-side demo, and a demo version of "A Greater Foundation" that is like 12 seconds longer than the original. The iTunes version is right under 51 minutes long. // 7
goingnowhere21, on september 26, 2012 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 6
Lyrics: 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. // 9
Overall Impression: 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. // 7