As I Lay Dying returns with their new album “Awakened”. Seeing them this past summer at the Mayhem Festival built up my interests because they were a very solid group of gentlemen playing some fairly heavy melodic metalcore. Their style is more up my alley even if the genre’s flare died down with me years ago. I’ve never been into AILD really, they’ve been a band that really flew under the radar with me. I just had my fill of these kind of bands in the day and when AILD blew up, I had already moved onto deadlier/heavier music. Now that I’m fully paying attention to this band I can clearly state that they are very talented and can play some solid headbanging tunes, it just feels like I’ve already heard this album before.
Let’s start with what is good, everything…all of the songs are good. Gnarly riffing, chugging sections to get those heads moving and mosh pits going, solo’s and melodies to impress the guitar nerd, screaming and singing vocal styles and punishing drums. It has everything you need and want in a melodic metal band. The tempo is mainly fast paced and constantly jams from front to back. 42 minutes of true metalcore greatness here! Plenty of sing along parts and anthems to fulfill any AILD fan! I appreciate their tone too, it’s heavy without tuning down to Drop G#. I can respect that type of guitar tone, it’s truly sharp and great to listen to. The breakdown riffs do not suffer due to this choice of tuning. Also with a tune choice like this, it makes the bass guitar necessary and audible. Production is top notch, Every instrument is clearly heard and with all of the layers of music (guitars, drums, leads, singing types, etc) that must have been tricky to pull off. The perfect mix of talented musicians and an expert producer (Bill Stevenson) putting together one solid album. Try to NOT headbang to this album, it’s incredibly difficult isn’t it?
One thing this album doesn’t have going for it is originality. I don’t know if this is standard now with metalcore still but there is a definite formula with this style of music. “Awakened” feels like a God forbid album at times, with Ill Nino vocals here n there, Killswitch Engage tempos and riffs with Trivium’s amazing guitar leads. You blend those 4 bands together and you have As I Lay Dying. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, I enjoy and respect all of these musicians and bands, I just know that this album will not get many rotations due to the fact it is lacking any originality. This album has been duplicated time and time again and even half way through the first listen I felt no need to ever listen to this album again. The only reason to pop this album in is to have something “new” on when you throw a party or have friends over. This is definitely one of those albums that you would want to listen to just to enjoy the guitar solo’s.
As I Lay Dying’s “Awakened” is a good album, it’s just derivative and about 10 years too late. This type of album will sell, no doubt about it. It just won’t get any credibility from metal elitists around the world. Fans of AILD will be satisfied, however if you weren’t a fan previous to this release, it won’t make you one.
2.5 out of 5
Metal Blade Records