Review Summary: An excellent metalcore record with just a small lack of diversity and a huge lack of bass
Metalcore is a genre that people seem to love to hate. Its a constant barrage of malice from it seems like everywhere. They call it uninspired, call it sell out music, call it not real metal, call it repetitive. And i would agree with those statements about many of the bands in the Metalcore genre today. So aside from what was on the radio i never used listened to much Metalcore because of what everyone keeps saying about it. But one day my friend showed me a few songs by some band called As I Lay Dying, but wait, these songs weren't uninspired, the lyrics held some true, deep feelings. Hold on, this sounds pretty metal to me, are you sure this is Metalcore? And so that began my love of this band
Shadows are Security is the third album by As I Lay Dying, and i feel it shows immense maturity for a such a relatively new band. Every song seems meticulously pieced together out of heavy, melody laden riffs and brutal, in your face breakdowns. It is not just a loud, sonic assault on your ear drums, It is dynamic song parts that always flow together well and add to the song immensely.
Vocalist Tim Lambesis really shines on this record. The growls are low and scathing, fitting all the songs well, and when he gives a high scream you really feel the intensity.One complaint on the vocal side of things is that while a great growl, it is the only growl he uses throughout the whole album. At times it can feel a bit monotonous, especially getting towards the last few songs on the album. All the lyrics are well written and thought out, all have great meaning behind them and really fit well with all the songs.
Guitarists Phil Sagrosso and Nick Hippa really do a great job of injecting all the metal riffs with a great dose a melody, there is a great melodic death metal influence throughout all of the guitar work on the album. Each riff fits together in the song perfectly. The breakdowns are all brutal and heavy, and the softer parts really accent this. But again, there is a certain lack of diversity, with most songs being played with all the same notes just in a different way. Also there is a definite lack of solos, and while not really an issue at all, it would be nice to hear one every so often.
Really the drums are the highlight of the whole album. Jordan Mancino owns the kit with such precision, and it really shines through all the tracks. The double bass is fast and heavy, the fills are always interesting, his work is just impeccable. I have always thought that Jordan Mancino is one of the best drummers in metal today. But this is not because of his technical skills, which are suburb but not as much as some progressive metal drummers or veteran death metal drummers. It is because of his ability to come up with a drum part that fits the song so utterly perfectly that you cannot see any other drum part ever working.
All the other problems i have with the album, mainly the small lack of diversity, are fairly trivial and would still get the album a 4.5. But then comes the largest problem i can see in this release. Bassist Clint Norris seems to have gotten lost on the way to the recording studio. There is absolutely ZERO bass in all of these songs. I turn my headphones up all the way trying to hear it, and it simply is not there. The bass just adds that crushing low end that makes metal so heavy, and there is simply no bass on the record. I have seen these guys live, and it is so much better than on the album, simply because i can hear the bass, it really is a shame and detracts from the whole album.
There are definitely a few stand out tracks. Meaning in Tragedy is a great way to start out the album, with great riff work, amazing growls, and a brutal breakdown. Through Struggle is easily the best song on the album, with a great harmonized guitar intro, amazing verse and chorus riffs, a breakdown in the middle of the song, and another brutal, bone gnashing breakdown at the end. Another thing i love about the song is the chorus sung by Clint Norris, which really adds a lot to the song, giving it a lot of feeling. Illusions, the final track, is unlike any song the band has ever written. after an odd intro of seemingly random noises, the song kicks off with slower, legato, slightly odd sounding guitar, than kicks into high gear with a heavy, dissonant chord that leads throughout the whole song. The whole structure is really just like nothing else they have done, and really is a great track.
So really this is a excellent album with just a few mistakes that end up taking away from the experience. Even still, if you are like i was, and never listen to Metalcore because of what everyone says about it, i would recommend picking this album up, it might just change your mind.
*Excellent song writting
*Great skill from all members of the band
*Dynamic and not just loud in your face music
*Jordan Mancino owns the drums
*A small lack of diversity
Stand out Songs,
Meaning in Tragedy