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As I Lay Dying - Awakened Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 8.25
Production 8.25
Creativity 8.25
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 85%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.56
Musicianship 8.63
Lyrics 7.88
Production 8.94
Creativity 7.06
Lasting Value 7.25
Reviewer Tilt 7.19
Average: 79%
Inside AP.net

As I Lay Dying - Awakened

Reviewed by: Jason Gardner (09/19/12)
As I Lay Dying - Awakened
Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: September 25, 2012


It would seem that on their sixth full-length, San Diego metalcore veterans As I Lay Dying are doing anything but settling for the status quo. Channeling the two-headed beast of melody and mayhem into a much more cohesive sound, the band took their chance with a seemingly wild card producer in Bill Stevenson to create Awakened. While delving into personal reflections with a confidence in creating bigger, stronger songs, the quintet have seemingly hit a stride in finding that realized balance in everything they’ve been crafting musically since Frail Words Collapse. Awakened comes and goes in twelve tracks of metal that is realized in a hint of big stage melodies laced with the band’s trademark intensity – proving at points the band’s ambitious nature without losing who they are in the process.

As I Lay Dying certainly aren’t reinventing themselves though, just taking what they’ve already done to the seemingly n-th degree. With a little less of a death metal approach and more leniency towards the theatrics of wall of sound metalcore, the massive melodies and thunderous production make for some swift shifts and interesting moments in the band’s rather structured approach this time around. While the ferocity is certainly still a huge part of this band’s sound, their less abrasive moments shine much brighter and feel a bit more cohesive in the overall flow of things. Take single and lead-off track “Cauterize” for example – while very much a pretty aggressive song with catchy licks and a memorable enough hook, the sung bits of the chorus make this track stand out and grab your attention. “Whispering Silence” and “Tear Out My Eyes” fly the clean-vocal chorus flag as well, though the former is more likely to get stuck in your head due to a pretty slick melody and strong backing instrumentation. Again, it’s not that they’ve tried to completely change their sound, but they’ve tweaked it just enough that while they aren’t too off from home base, they can still crunch, shred and scream with power and conviction.

That being said, the heavier moments, you can single it down to breakdowns if you want, feel a bit more calculated than before. “Overcome” features a bridge that punches well enough, while “Wasted Words” might be the most relentless and merciless to your ears of the bunch. “Words” gives us arguably the strongest punch in the gut in a motif that appears like a wisp of smoke in the track’s murky recollections and brooding nature. It’s a solid meeting point for the intensity and melody this band brandishes while creating a solid musical hook to keep our heads in the track. On the other hand, the ending riff to “Whispering Silence” simply fades to black at its finish. While a bit of a disappointment with a strongly punched riff that could punch and end the track at full force with no problem, it kind of feels unresolved. That feeling though pops up occasionally, whether musically or lyrically, through the record – supporting and reminding of the slightly somber, almost downer realization this record hints at at times.

“Defender” throws us for a wicked curve through, as the sung vocals of Josh Gilbert anchor the pouring on of tom fills and searing lead licks. It’s a track that might jar our ears, but in reality the anthemic nature and brooding ferocity make for a strong contrast to the mid-track groove and chant that punch the song’s message home. The vast sprawl of the riffs and vocal melodies carries on though, as the one-two finisher of “My Only Home” and “Tear Out My Eyes” carry us to the end with the latter having a monster finisher for an album that plays a lot of chemistry in terms of finding a middle ground for the band’s two faces, as it seems. But in the finality of it all, it would be easy to say that this is an album for any sort of As I Lay Dying fan. There’s great rhythmic punching countered by some the band’s strongest melodic work – as well as some of their most daring vocal blitzes in where they drop those cleans into the mix – leaving us with an aggressive yet still high-flying brand of heavy music to headbang and sing along to.

Awakened makes for a reasonable continuation in the band’s sound, but finds the group making a significant stride in their ability to mix their talents together while keeping the songwriting at dizzying heights. If anything, it is good to know that the consistency this band has shown through the last few records hasn’t worn off this time around – and certainly doesn’t appear to be fading off any time soon.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 29
04:31 AM on 09/19/12
#2
s12sim
pi >> cake
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good review. can't wait for this one
04:54 AM on 09/19/12
#3
Jaimehere
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So close to being on par with Shadows Are Security, might even consider this to be their best eventually.

Gilbert sings so well in ALL of the tracks.
05:14 AM on 09/19/12
#4
suicidesaints
A Million F@$% Diamonds
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I agree. I've only heard the album once through, but it's sounding pretty damn good so far...
05:34 AM on 09/19/12
#5
WhatJulianSaid
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I was afraid to hear this because a magazine said they combine "They churn out more modern metalcore with their own style on it". Make me think asking alexandria or some other chug chug band which is lame but I'll listen to it after reading this.
07:24 AM on 09/19/12
#6
HeavenResign
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I was afraid to hear this because a magazine said they combine "They churn out more modern metalcore with their own style on it". Make me think asking alexandria or some other chug chug band which is lame but I'll listen to it after reading this.
I'm two tracks in - and your fears are solid because all heavier Asking Alexandria was in the first place is dumbed down As I Lay Dying.

I'm 3 tracks in so far and the sound is more 'modern' (which I sort of like as for me Shadows Are Security sort of 'defined' that metalcore production the genre is so known for in the first place), but the biggest downfall of newer metalcore bands like Asking Alexandria are the terrible lyrics and formulaic songwriting. I assure you neither are present here so far!

Really liking this so far. Loved The Powerless Rise as well.
09:16 AM on 09/19/12
#7
iAMhollyood315
Rest is for the dead
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I'm two tracks in - and your fears are solid because all heavier Asking Alexandria was in the first place is dumbed down As I Lay Dying.

I'm 3 tracks in so far and the sound is more 'modern' (which I sort of like as for me Shadows Are Security sort of 'defined' that metalcore production the genre is so known for in the first place), but the biggest downfall of newer metalcore bands like Asking Alexandria are the terrible lyrics and formulaic songwriting. I assure you neither are present here so far!

Really liking this so far. Loved The Powerless Rise as well.
I blame the stupid younger generation for how big AA has become. 3 years ago they opened for A static lullaby in a shithole venue. now they are bigger than the band that paved the way for them. i'm getting too old.
11:20 AM on 09/19/12
#8
WeltallAY
Je suis l'Alpha et l'Oméga
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Why didn't Jake Bannon do the artwork for this? He's become synonymous with ALID and I always look forward to new representations of the skull. I was really hoping for a purple color scheme this time around. Hate to say it but this artwork is the dullest since BTEOA.
11:28 AM on 09/19/12
#9
JayDanielHammer
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I never cared for this band and I tried this album and it still didn't change my mind. I get what they do and all but I just cannot connect to it.
12:10 PM on 09/19/12
HeavenResign
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I blame the stupid younger generation for how big AA has become. 3 years ago they opened for A static lullaby in a shithole venue. now they are bigger than the band that paved the way for them. i'm getting too old.


Agreed. I'm friends with a guy who used to really like Asking Alexandria and he never understood why I hated them. Then I showed him Shadows Are Security (he'd NEVER heard of As I Lay Dying), and he immediately realized why I thought AA were a dumbed down As I Lay Dying.
12:13 PM on 09/19/12
Beej 347
twitter.com/billrepublic
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is this streaming anywhere?
12:20 PM on 09/19/12
Archael
listens to good music
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The bits I heard were rather disappointing.
01:16 PM on 09/19/12
iAMhollyood315
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Agreed. I'm friends with a guy who used to really like Asking Alexandria and he never understood why I hated them. Then I showed him Shadows Are Security (he'd NEVER heard of As I Lay Dying), and he immediately realized why I thought AA were a dumbed down As I Lay Dying.
Shame they have never heard of AILD. Didn't think it was possibly listening to this genre but. I guess it's same reasons I was late on bands from the early 2000s
01:26 PM on 09/19/12
theagentcoma
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Definitely leaked. Solid album.
01:34 PM on 09/19/12
WhatJulianSaid
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I'm two tracks in - and your fears are solid because all heavier Asking Alexandria was in the first place is dumbed down As I Lay Dying.

I'm 3 tracks in so far and the sound is more 'modern' (which I sort of like as for me Shadows Are Security sort of 'defined' that metalcore production the genre is so known for in the first place), but the biggest downfall of newer metalcore bands like Asking Alexandria are the terrible lyrics and formulaic songwriting. I assure you neither are present here so far!

Really liking this so far. Loved The Powerless Rise as well.
As long as there's some musical talent I don't mind it I suppose.
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