Sound — 8
After the success of Cannibal Corpse's Centuries of Torment' DVD last year, the folks at Metal Blade Records have done it again. This Is Who We Are' is a 3 DVD set from As I Lay Dying and it's a monster of a package! Included in the box is an exhaustive documentary on the band, a collection of high-energy live performances, and all of the band's official videos and other enticing bonus features. Those of you who are already familiar with the recorded output of As I Lay Dying already know what to sonically expect. The California metalcore giants have always made sure their Swedish death metal inspired guitar riffs are way up front in the mix while the drums and vocals jockey for position beneath it. Engineer Daniel Castleman does a smashing job capturing the intensity of the band's live show while maintaining the meticulous precision of their musicianship.
Content — 8
The live performances span concert appearances from 2007-2008 and what we find here is a quintet firing on all cylinders. The guitar team of Phil Sgrosso (rhythm) and Nick Hipps (leads) prove that all the years toughing it out on the club circuit has done wonders for their chops. On Within Destruction the guitarists channel the speed metal charge of vintage Kreator and chop it up with the mosh pit rhythms of New York City Hardcore but their skilled playing makes it sound seamless. Vocalist Tim Lambesis is the consummate frontman, striding back and forth onstage like a man possessed. His command over his instrument and crowd is veteran-like in it's confidence and delivery. How he tears through a song like Distance Is Darkness while not losing his voice halfway throughout it is a feat in itself. As captivating as the live content featured here is, it's the full-length documentary that really takes the cake. Like the aforementioned Cannibal Corpse DVD, the documentary portion takes us through As I Lay Dying's humble beginning to their current spot atop the metalcore scene today. Now stone is left unturned and director Denise Korycki makes sure that the film flows from start to finish at a compelling pace. Even if you're not a fan of the band, This Is Who We AreThe Beginning' is the kind of thing any fan of heavy music can appreciate. In the end, it's just another inspiring story of a group fighting for what they believe in and coming out triumphant.
Production Quality — 8
Not only does Korycki do fantastic with the story end of the documentary, visually she takes the almost certain low-budget of the production and lift it to Hollywood styled levels. Everything from the titles to the interview footage is top-notch while the editing (with Lia Starace) keeps the momentum moving forward. The concert stuff sounds and looks just as vibrant with ample shots of the crowds making you feel like the show is going down in the middle of your living room.
Overall Impression — 8
With three DVDs included in This Is Who We Are,' you'll have a lot of media to sink your teeth into. This isn't really a one sitting type of experience. The concert footage alone is enough to take in alone. You can go on YouTube and watch these performances on your computer but their panoramic sound and visual quality truly was meant for the wide screen of a television. Like we mentioned before, the documentary disc is gripping but if you don't have the patience or interest in that kind of thing, the live portion is essential for any fan of the band. With so many artists releasing DVDs these days, it's easy to get jaded and take them for granted. But when something like this hit's stores, it's quality is hard to ignore.