Review Summary: As I Lay Dying show signs of improvement with this album and take a few chances, but not enough to make an excellent album. I like the direction they're going in, but there's too much re-hashing of older material.
I have read plenty of reviews for As I Lay Dying’s new release over the past few days, and it’s almost been nothing but praise for one of metalcore’s most successful acts. It’s been said that this record shows an increase in maturity for the group, but how much did the band really change from their last album, Shadows Are Security? Honestly, not as much as everyone wants you to think. There are signs of improvement in many of the album’s twelve songs, but it’s only in small doses. A lot of An Ocean Between Us relies on old hooks and one note breakdowns we’ve all heard way too many times from these guys. I like the direction they’re going in, though, but it’s just not enough.
Before this album was released the band said this record would be faster and thrashier than anything they’ve done in the past. I simply wrote them off after reading that statement, but they really weren’t kidding. You can find riffs in songs like “An Ocean Between Us”, “Within Destruction” and “Comfort Betrays” which hit you much harder than the band has ever done in the past. But other than the increase in tempo, the riffs are still very similar to the songs you’ve heard on their past albums, though there are a few new parts which were highlights of the album. The riffs “Comfort Betrays” sound like they could have just as easily been played on the new Behemoth album and the intro to “Wrath Upon Ourselves” sounds like it could have appeared on a Dillinger Escape Plan song. The speed may make the band’s sound change a bit, but really there’s nothing too radically new on here. There are some new ideas floating around on this album, but there’s simply a lot more re-hashing of older tracks.
The guitars are becoming more lead based on this album, which is a plus. There are some solos on this album which are well executed and take what would be an average song to new heights. “Departed” is actually only a guitar song, which features cheesy tapping lines that would take you right back to a Van Halen record. The drumming on this album might be Jordan’s best to date, as it is very clean and quite fast at times. The album is almost always pounding away, and the drums are always providing either a fast double bass pattern, and now there’s even some blast beats scattered about. As I Lay Dying’s new bassist is barely audible, but that’s the way it’s always been. It’s always a letdown, but it’s nothing to really focus on. The screaming on this album is fairly solid. Tom Lambesis’ voice is crisper than before and doesn’t manage to lose any of his brutality. The clean vocals on here are also a treat. They’re well executed, even if they’re cheesy and overused. In terms of skill only, they’re enjoyable.
So, should you get this album? I think it’s a good album, but only for an occasional listen. This is nothing I’d get hooked on for days on end, but there are definitely some parts on here that I can’t help but enjoy the hell out of. As I Lay Dying definitely plays way too many breakdowns, but the one in “Forsaken” at 1:58 is without a doubt the best one they’ve ever done. It’s heavy as hell and has a killer lead behind it. “Comfort Betrays” is the band’s most brutal song to date and “Nothing Left” features a blistering guitar solo and catchy hooks that you can’t help but sing along to. However, many of the songs seem uninspired and lacking in places. This is the band’s best effort yet, but there’s still work to be done here.
Thor’s Top 3 from this album:
Final Rating: 3/5