Review Summary: What the album has in technicality and shred it lacks in personality and originality. Awaken the Dreamers could have been so much more.
All Shall Perish’s last release, The Price of Existence, was one of the more promising releases in the deathcore/hardcore scene. While being positively riddled with breakdowns, it retained a very unique sound because of the somewhat refreshing melodies tacked on top of the scene-pleasing hardcore-fests. The vocal performance came across as very powerful and the drums simply smoked. Everything just seemed to work for this California-native band.
A few months ago the group released two new songs online, “Never Again” and “Awaken the Dreamers”. While I thought the former was an average deathcore tune, the latter couldn’t have made me happier. The group sounded more powerful than ever, while also multiplying their melodic side two times over. The vocals seemed just as brutal as before, and the layered clean vocals in certain parts were great. It’s actually still one of my favorite songs of this year. Sadly, the rest of the album doesn’t even come close to the title track. The majority of Awaken the Dreamers is either stale, repetitive breakdowns or failed attempts at experimentation.
What’s probably the easiest thing to notice on this album is the added shredding. It’s actually impossible not to. In the album’s opening track, “When Life Meant More”, you’ll be smacked right in the face with some blazing leads that sound legitimately original the first time around. Unfortunately, you’ll get positively sick of hearing arpeggio sweeps on top of breakdowns very soon thereafter. It works in small doses, but this is about all you’ll get from Chris Storey and Ben Orum this time around. “From So Far Away” is pretty much a perfect example of said shredding, as this short instrumental is nothing more than a cry for attention with zero emotion behind it. Just because you know how to do incredibly complicated sweep patterns doesn’t mean you should use them every chance that you get. Songwriting should come first, and it really doesn't on here.
Going back to my point earlier about experimentation, there’s a few instances of it on this release. “Black Gold Reign” contains a quick burst of Halford-mocking falsetto vocals that are just as annoying as they are unnecessary. “Memories of a Glass Sanctuary” could have been a relaxing and entertaining clean interlude had the vocal tracks not shat all over said music. Hernan Hermida’s vocals on here make me appreciate the ones of The Price of Existence so much more now. The screams are average on here and fail to pack nearly as much of a punch as they previously had. And besides the clean vocals in the album’s title track, I’m not really impressed with them on anywhere else. There are also several short instrumentals found on Awaken the Dreamers that don’t really seem to serve much of a purpose to me. These interludes also throw off the flow that the album previously had going.
There’s lots of shred, there’s a few experimental moments, but it’s all rooted back in breakdowns. Breakdowns that simply cannot compete with any of the ones found on The Price of Existence. This release really shoots itself in the foot by repeating itself too many times and forgetting what had made their past songs so great. The added melodies in past songs like “Day of Justice” are for the most part a distant memory and now blend in with the rest of your chug-a-lug copycats. It’s such a letdown knowing that a band that once was loaded with potential basically spits in your face.
This review may come across as overly harsh, and that’s simply because it’s much easier to point out Awaken the Dreamer’s faults rather than enjoy the occasional greatness the album has. There are very catchy and technical riffs every now and then, and the rhythm section is consistently tight. Sadly, these things are rarely, if ever, the focus of the album, and so the entirety of this release suffers for it.
All of the ingredients for greatness are there, the band just hasn’t fully realized their potential just yet. If All Shall Perish can combine the songwriting of their past with their current musicality, we’ll have the makings of a true deathcore classic. It just hasn’t happened yet.