Sound — 5
It's been awhile since I've kept up with one of my all-time favorites bands, As I Lay Dying. Sure, my music tastes have matured but AILD has and always will hold a special place in my heart, but I do not follow every move they make like I did when I was younger. That being said, I was completely unaware that they were working on a new album, titled "Awakened", set for a September 25th release. On June 25th, the band released the track "Cauterize" for the public to download. Upon first hearing "Cauterize", I felt that it was a typical As I Lay Dying song. It followed a similar style/sound that reminded me of "The Powerless Rise" and "Decas". The song starts out aggressive with frontman, Tim Lambesis, exercising the higher pitch scream. The guitars follow with a punchy, thrash-like riff accompanied by a energetic drum pattern with hints of potential blast beats. I might add that drummer, Jordan Mancino, is one of the most underrated drummers in metal today. The man has talent. With further listening, I came across my first and only serious problem with this song around the 2:14 mark: the breakdown. Breakdowns have become a cliched and uninspired part of metalcore. The open fret, palm-muted chugging along with quarter note splash cymbals. This is killing metal in my opinion. I may stand alone on this viewpoint but I know I am sick of hearing the same breakdown. As I Lay Dying in the past has done a great job at avoiding the generic breakdown, but this time they fell victim to it. The solo of the song luckily pulled the song out of the breakdown rutt, and was very warm and melodic. It is nice to hear a solo that has some substance to it rather than just fast playing and sweeps. The solo leads to another verse of the chorus, which could be viewed as monotonous but if it works for your band, why change it?
Lyrics — 7
The chorus of "Cauterize" is one that you would come to expect from As I Lay Dying. It is a punchy, melodic riff played on the higher end of the fretboard with bassist Josh Gilbert clean singing the hook. Gilbert has gotten some hell from the metal community for having "whiny" vocals but his vocals fit well in this song and do not come across as whiny in this instance.
Overall Impression — 6
"Cauterize" is not the strongest release that As I Lay Dying has had. It fell along the same patterns as songs of their past. Usually, As I Lay Dying's style changes a little bit for each album but I think the band has found a groove they are comfortable with. AILD never releases their big punch-out songs before their albums drop, so I expect some real catches on "Awakened" although, sadly, "Cauterize" didn't do much for me.