As I Lay Dying – Awakened

As I Lay Dying

Awakened

01. Cauterize
02. A Greater Foundation
03. Resilience
04. Wasted Words
05. Whispering Silence
06. Overcome
07. No Lungs To Breathe
08. Defender
09. Washed Away
10. My Only Home
11. Tear Out My Eyes

[09/25/12]
[Metal Blade Records]

There’s a reason that San Diego’s As I Lay Dying remained ever-popular after the New Wave Of American Metal phase of metalcore waned in popularity. Throughout the genre’s rise and saturation, the band managed to stand out with enough overall quality and personality to remain relevant into their sixth studio album a decade after their formation. What’s even more telling of the band’s longevity is that not only do they manage to remain strong past their genre’s expiration date, they continue to release albums without decay, something one could definitely not say about their contemporaries in Killswitch Engage and All That Remains. No, As I Lay Dying have surely earned their popularity, and they continue their exemplary career in their latest offering Awakened.

It shouldn’t even have to be said that fans know exactly what they’re getting this point in As I Lay Dying‘s career. The band’s predictable and formulaic songwriting doesn’t do them any favors, but their penchant for writing fun and uplifting melodic metalcore is as strong as it was on Frail Words Collapse. The pairing of powerful anthems and searing guitar work is always welcome in the realm of metal, but Awakened is ultimately a record that takes little to no chances as all. Of course, this can all become a fault in many bands’ careers, but As I Lay Dying avoid this pitfall by ultimately not sucking. Sure, it can be argued that we’ve heard all of these songs before, but it’s just not even an issue because they’re still great songs.

In that regard, Awakened is a ridiculously catchy record. The soaring and almost saccharine vocals that litter the record may seem obligatory on an initial cursory listen, but they all work well in context and don’t feel forced for the sake of being commercial. The music itself also remains strong, with no shortage of riffs or guitar solos in sight. They don’t over-indulge in breakdowns, either; instead, the band saves them for key moments and work with the flow of the songs, adding dynamic and groove. The current wave of metalcore bands need to take note of Awakened. This is how you do it.

It could even be said that Awakened is the definitive As I Lay Dying record. Something about Awakened just seems special despite the familiarity. It’s certainly their best-sounding record at any rate, with excellent production from Bill Stevenson (NOFX, Rise Against). The one chance the band did make was not going back to Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam D. for production, and it paid off with a smooth and satisfying sonic quality.

To reiterate, As I Lay Dying have crafted yet another predictable record, but they’ve delivered on an implied promise of excellence. The band shows no signs of aging, nor are they slowing down. While Awakened will likely not lead to any new converts and their detractors will bemoan the genre’s tired staples, fans will rejoice that metalcore’s saving grace are as good as they’ve ever been. Awakened is proof that the marriage of thrash, melodic death metal, and hardcore isn’t quite the beaten horse we’ve all made it out to be.

As I Lay Dying – Awakened gets…

3.5/5

– JR

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