As I Lay Dying never cease to amaze me with every release; they are one of the few bands that I’ve heard who can always maintain the sound that made them so popular, while still giving themselves room to grow. Now they are at their 5th studio album, and more than 10 years into their career. The milestone has finally arrived where they need to show us they are still the As I Lay Dying we fell in love with so long ago. And to prove that milestone, they present their latest release, Awakened.
Now that you’ve passed the “teaser”, I can be much more direct with my comments. Without question, Awakened is the best new metalcore album I have heard all year. As I Lay Dying has always been such a solid band and always seem to release equally solid albums. And similar to efforts in the past, nothing ever seems sloppy, or phoned in on Awakened. The opening track, “Cauterize” is simply the essence of As I Lay Dying’s brand of metalcore, which makes it the perfect opener for Awakened. Tim Lambesis takes a quick gasp before he explodes into the song with guitars blazing and drummer Jordan Mancino blasting away. And the album only gets better from there once it gets to “A Greater Foundation”, which is definitely my favorite song on all of Awakened. And then to the next track, “Resilience”, and then to “Wasted Words”, and so forth. As the tracks kept progressing, I only liked Awakened more and more.
Apart from the blistering riffs on songs like “A Greater Foundation”, Awakened develops toward the mellower side of metalcore with songs like “Whispering Silence”, and “Defender”, which is where bassist Josh Gilbert really shines. Gilbert’s clean vocals are the perfect contrast to all the intensity on the whole album. Each member of the band just seems to flow so well off of each other’s energies, which are then presented to the listener in the best way possible. But another thing I loved about Awakened is when the focus of the song is mostly on melody, there will still be an outstanding section of fast-picking prowess that just makes your face want to explode from the awesome. “Overcome” has a great example of this, where the song is nice and melodic, but the bridge goes into a sudden yet fitting double-picking section that would cause anyone listening to bang their heads hard.
I was also a little surprised to see that Adam D. didn’t produce this album, as they had stated before that he just understands their sound so well, and I was one to agree. Perhaps they wanted just to try someone new, which they found in Descendants drummer, Bill Stevenson. I’ve never heard any of his previous work, but it was definitely on par with some of the work Adam D. has done in the past, including As I Lay Dying albums. It ends up being very clear and intense at the same time, especially when it comes to Mancino’s thundering double-kick sections. I loved how it perfectly complimented each of the guitar passages to ensure you hear every facet possible on Awakened.
Again, Awakened the best metalcore album I have heard all year so far. I could really just go on and on about every little detail that I love about this album, but I would just highly recommend you check it out yourself. As I Lay Dying fans will not be disappointed one bit, but this is definitely one that metalcore fans of all types should pick up and give it a good listen. It’s potentially As I Lay Dying’s best album so far, and also potentially my favorite As I Lay Dying album.
9.0/10 – Buy this album on Amazon.com
Stream the whole album for free on Noisecreep.com