After two long years of waiting As I lay dying have returned with a new CD, a new line up and a new found energy which will surely give them the recognition they deserve.
I for one thought that this releases predecessor, “frail words collapse" was an excellent CD which featured a few superb songs, but was let down by a bit too much filler and instead hinted at what this band was capable of rather than propelling them into the big league like it should of.
So the first question I asked my self when listening to this CD was,
1. Does it surpass Frail words collapse?
2. Does it fulfil the bands potential?
The answer to the first of these questions is an emphatic YES, as this CD is better than its predecessor in almost everyway, with better guitar riffs provided by two all new guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso which are often excellently harmonized and while there is nothing extremely technical (you wont find any dragon force style double tapping on here) the riffs are varied and cleanly played throughout. One criticism with the playing on this album however, is the distinct lack of solos ( I only counted 2 when listening, tracks 6 and 9 I think ) although the ones on here however are good and fit the songs well.
The vocals again handled by founding member Tim Lambesis are again fantastic, his scream had always been one of my favourites in metal and he returns again with a performance filled with anger and passion. The lyrics to this record are again fantastic with lambesis’s poetic scribblings being both well thought out and intelligent. The lyrics while noticeably Christian are not overly so and should not put you off this CD, as god is not mentioned once and instead love is the main topic written about. This CD puts Lambesis up there with Jacob Bannon as the best lyricist in metal and hardcore.
Worth noting is that there are a number of guest vocalists on this CD, these include Jason of No innocent Victim, Dan of Zao, Matt of Throwdown and Tommy Garcia of Please mister grave digger. None of these appearances are particularly noticeable as the CD booklet does not give any track numbers. But I prity sure Dan form zao is track 6 reflection.
The bass handled by new bassist Clint Norris is as with most metal records hardly noticeable and tends to just back up the guitar rather than adding new melodies to the songs, but there are times during the CD that it is clear he is playing cool things. Norris also handles clean vocal duties on this record, and he is well up to the task, his voice is constantly in tune and never sounds to whiney unlike certain other bands. *cough cough From autumn to ashes cough* The clean vocals are used far more on this release than on Frail words but still no where near as much as Killswitch engage and are not used on every song.
The drumming however is the highlight of the CD, the band have had the same drummer throughout their career and where he to leave, he’d be near impossible to replace. Jordan Mancino is probably my favourite drummer in metal at the moment along side Trivium drummer Travis Smith. Throughout the album he uses a great deal of extremely speedy double bass as well as some nice blast beats and rolls. He even somehow surpasses his performance on Frail words, which is quite an achievement.
So now to answer my second question. To be honest while the CD is outstanding, I still feel as though the band isn’t quite living up to their full potential. Perhaps it’s the fact that its still a relatively new line up but I still have a slight feeling that this band will get even better.
The first thing I noticed about the songs after listening to the CD a few times is that the filler is gone, every song on here is top notch, which makes it hard to pick a favourite, but early favourites include; Track one meaning in tragedy with is straight to the point heavy riffing and thundering vocal and drum delivery. Track 2 Confined is also excellent and is the first single from the album which is an obvious choice as it has a catchy chorus and killer riff. Next track 4 “the darkest nights" stands out as the softest song on the album with its awesome melodic lead and clean vocals. Finally from my early listening track 11 Morning waits is the biggest stand out thanks to its lightning drumming and guitar playing. Despite this there is nothing quite as good or as emotional as Elegy and Forever off frail words but the many excellent songs make up for this.
One Criticism I have of many of the songs on here is that they are too short with most being under 4mins and none over 5mins. Although it is almost as if tracks 6 and seven could have been joined together to make one long song which would have worked well.
With Shadows are Security As I lay dying have created an outstanding record which will gain them the recognition they deserve, but I feel that it will be their next record where they will be free to experiment a bit more and truly become a classic act.
This CD is brutal, chaotic, and beautiful but most importantly its a great metalcore/melodic death metal /whatever the *** you wanna call itcore CD and is truly just a great metal CD.
This is for fans of Inflames, killswitch engage, Still remains, trivium and also Norma Jean as this CD does feature numerous break downs being its only link to hardcore. And although some may say they are too generic I advice anyone looking for something fairly heavy yet melodic to buy this CD, you wont regret it.