Sound — 8
As I Lay Dying has been one of the big guns on the modern metalcore scene for the last decade, and their newest album "The Powerless Rise" shows that they still have staying power. Still young by some people's standards, As I Lay Dying has accumulated a rabid following of dedicated fans, and their newest album, while slightly more varied than previous material, should be a crowd-pleaser. Frontman Tim Lambesis has made this his most varying performance in terms of his screams. Guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso have also put a lot more creativity into their riffing than previous releases. Hipa has contributed a lot more guitar solos than you will find in previous releases as well. Bassist Josh Gilbert gets lost in the mix instrumentally often, but he also offers up a heaping load of choral melodies. Jordan Mancino makes a solid and ferocious performance as well. Song Listing: 01. Beyond Our Suffering: starts with some sonic chaos, excellent dynamics, great starter, solo at 1:45. 02. Anodyne Sea: good intro drum fill, catchy chorus/melody, moving guitar part around 2:00, best As I Lay Dying breakdown as far as I'm concerned starting at 2:45. 03. Without Conclusion: fantastic intro riff, distinct Austrian Death Machine resemblance, solos at 0:49 and 1:29. 04. Parallels: great vocal melody and guitar harmonies in chorus, good build from 2:47 to the solo at 3:25. 05. The Plague: good verse riffing, great solo at 2:17. 06. Anger and Apathy: good high-end riffs, good clean chorus, atmospheric moody interlude at 2:18. 07. Condemned: intense main riff, thrashy feeling at points, very aggressive, solo at 2:10, a little bit of bass guitar at 1:45 (imagine that). 08. Upside Down Kingdom: good intro, bass and drums lead in, followed by guitar harmonies, album title lyric in the chorus, good riffing. 09. Vacancy: fast-moving, heavy start, good chorus layering, a little average compared to other songs, but still quite solid as a whole. 10. The Only Constant Is Change: feels a bit repetitive for first half, good chorus riff/vocals. 11. The Blinding of False Light: good addition of auxiliary percussion in quieter areas, good mixing of clean and scream vocals, great mood change at 2:40, good outro transition to end of album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics written by Tim Lambesis for this follow a trend of secular humanism rather than preaching (members are Christian). They mostly revolve around conviction for the way we treat fellow human beings and helping those who are suffering. "Beyond Our Suffering" is a prime example of this. The song talks of the trivial nature of our problems compared to those in terrible places. "Condemned" is about how we leave people behind every once and awhile in pursuit of other things. Many of the songs are also about the inner search for truth. As far as Tim's vocals go, some people might think that Tim is trying to capitalize off of Austrian Death Machine's success by making the vocals more understandable and varied, but I think that they far outclass the vocals on previous albums. They show more creativity and layer. Josh Gilbert was given much more time to hone the clean melodies on this album than he was given for "An Ocean Between Us" and that makes for some excellent clean choruses. Through the production, these vocals are woven together quite well with eachother and with the instrumentation throughout the album.
Overall Impression — 9
This album really follows in the creative vein of their last release "An Ocean Between Us", but it takes everything up to a new level of intensity and value. Producer Adam D. From Killswitch Engage really did a fantastic job mixing this album and adding some creative layering. This album shines in its dynamics. It is quiet and loud in appropriate places and the songs are driven along with a purpose that can be felt while listening. The only thing that I didn't like was that I felt that the album and some song titles were a little cliche-sounding, but that didn't dissuade me from liking this album as a whole. I would definitely buy this album again if it disappeared and recommend that you give it a chance even if you haven't been an As I Lay Dying fan in the past. If you're into metalcore, it shouldn't disappoint.