Review Summary: Mixing elements of death metal, grind, black metal and even a bit of jazz, 'An Awakening' fires from the get go and never lets up.
What does Those Who Lie Beneath, hailing from Portland, Oregon sound like? Evil, heavy, pissed and focused. But more importantly they sound better than a lot of the music that their label counterpart has been at the forefront of. The tried and true method of being 'the worlds most brutal band' has seen its share of forth comers who make some of the most heavy and ridiculous music to date from people who should not be put within arms reach of instruments ever again. But out of the cesspool of mediocrity, Rise Records brings you 'An Awakening'.
Mediocrity is a huge obstacle, it seems, for a lot of young and up and coming groups, finding something that not only appeals to music elitists but casual listeners as well. While this album is good, I must note that this band isn't doing anything that hasn't already been done by some band, some where at some point in time. But the execution is what sets this apart from others in its genre.
Mixing elements of death metal, grind, black metal and even a bit of jazz, 'An Awakening' fires from the get go and never lets up. Each and every track builds off the other and creates more and more tension with each and every passing song. While the band tries to be as heavy as possible, they don't sacrifice good riffs for a breakdown every 4 or 6 measures, which is always refreshing to hear. Songs like 'Building and Breaking Bridges', 'Frozen Feastings' and 'As The Vultures Circle' feature quick but effective groove/breakdown sections that not only add to the overall dimension of the song, but don't take away from the atmosphere that the rest of the song has crafted perfectly. Sweep aficionados will be on cloud nine as there is no shortage of dissonant but not overbearing sweep patterns that are scattered everywhere in the album.
Atmosphere is another large key player in the role of the music. You can tell which songs are meant to be eerie and evil, the lyrics following suit. Each song has a distinct mood or setting that the music is providing the backdrop for, and for the most part every song does a fantastic job of creating the necessary atmosphere. For the most part the guitars trade off each other beautifully the whole way through, coming off forced only a few short times in the entirety of the album. Solo's are very prevalent as most of the songs have anywhere between 1 to 3 between the two guitarists, but it doesn't seem like they solo just because they can. Most of them serve the song for whatever purpose they are going for, (eerie and creepy a la 'Through His Eyes'), and they are left out when they would feel forced or pretentious. The bass is very prevalent in the mix as you can hear him in just about every song, but nothing extravagant or flashy is seen in it, just solid. The vocals are an interesting beast coming off with a sort of Acacia Strain mixed with high shrieks and bellowing lows. Jamie Hanks has chose to write about odd situations and popular serial killers for the most part, (Frozen Feastings for example is about The Donnor Party), but they provide neat little stories to delve into for the course of the song and fulfill their purpose on the album itself. The drums sound great as the kick drum doesn't sound like a fake clicking sound, each tom, cymbal and the snare are perfectly mixed with one not sounding louder than the others. While some may tire of the blast, groove, gravity blast, breakdown, routine. It seems like the drums provide a very stable and concrete backbone for the rest of the album to rest upon.
This album is fast, evil, and most of all good. Those Who Lie Beneath have crafted an album that a lot of the younger bands should take notes on, cause this is how it really should be done. Not with breakdowns every 3 seconds and songs that have nothing separating them from one another, making a whole album out of what sounds like a single running track. But with atmosphere, aggression and above all talent.