Sound — 7
'An Ocean Between Us' was a huge step forward for metalcore monsters As I Lay Dying. So you'd expect the follow up to be continuing in that direction, but that's not what you get in 'The Powerless Rise.' By no means a bad album, I was expecting another album of odd song structures held together by tight riffing. But nearly every song on this record follows the same 'verse chorus' structure, making it terribly predictable throughout. Not only that, but enough of the riffs are pretty forgettable. But when they get a song right, they get it damn good. The first three songs('Beyond Our Suffering,' 'Anodyne Sea,' and 'Without Conclusion') beat you in the face, before coming to the horrifyingly cliche'd "Parallels," where the clean vocals actually remind me of Saosin's Cove Reber. The remainder of the album after that is a mass of metalcore that isn't unique at all. Guitar solos appear on every song on this record, which beats the point of what made them so refreshing in this band's last effort. Each of the songs might be good individually, but it makes for a bland album, a forgivable sin in this case considering the monster album that will inevitably be held up as the standard for judging this one.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are typical of frontman Lambesis, from commentary on the dishonest nature of society: "Stand on conviction, and you will walk alone," from 'Anodyne Sea,' to something reminiscent of Three Days Grace in 'Anger and Apathy': "I need to know that feelings of discontent are stronger than indifference for those too weak to stand," to criticisms of their own Christianity: "While religion tries to blame what we cannot see, I accept that part of the problem is me," presumably inspired by their time on tour with many bands with an anti-Christian stance. Lambesis' vocal style hasn't slacked at all. He's easily one of the best vocalists around today.
Overall Impression — 7
I'll admit I was disappointed at first, but considering what they were following up, it's hard to chastise the band for it. It's no 'An Ocean Between Us,' but it's still a pretty good album. I'd recommend getting it. The diversity from their previous effort isn't to be found here, but I imagine anyone who's ever liked any of their albums will like this one. 'The Powerless Rise' is worth getting.