Review Summary: An Inspiring album by a band that exceeded all expectations and broke the typical "Christian metal" barriers.
Life in Your Way was a melodic hardcore band from Connecticut. In keeping with the lyrical content of their records, all the members of the band were proponents of the Christian faith, which was demonstrated by their demeanor toward other bands, promoters, and fans. They went on the release three studio albums:
-The Sun Rises and the Sun Sets... and Still Our Time is Endless (2003) (Indianola Records)
-Ignite and Rebuild (2005) (Indianola Records/Guideline Records)
-Waking Giants (2007) (Solid State Records)
So far I may be able to predict what you're thinking if you have not yet heard this album. "Oh great, another Christian metal band with the sing/scream split, using their faith to sell records and preach to us." I honestly don't blame you for thinking that because the metal scene has been over run with Christian metalcore bands such as: blessthefall, The Devil Wears Prada, Haste the Day and of course the ever popular, Underoath. I am not even saying these bands are bad but let’s be honest, the high pitched singing vocals, Christian rants and emo following is starting to get old fast. On paper, yes this band applies to that grouping (minus the emo following) but once heard, the listener realizes that this is like nothing exhibited before.
The beginning of "Waking Giants" throws the listener right into "Reach the End" and quickly displays the crushing yet melodic riffs that Life in your Way is best known for. The vocals do take some getting used to if you're not a big fan of the hardcore scene, they are raw and definitely not studio perfect which may automatically force the listener to turn it off if a studio perfect sound is their preference. For the ones who give it a chance they will be pleasantly surprised with the rare upbeat, hopeful lyrics that have been absent for so long in the genre. The clean vocal part near the end of the song is nothing less than astounding. I am not just saying that, it sounds like nothing I have ever heard in the past. I was filled with chills and had a strong urge to hold up a lighter to the beautiful sound I was hearing. Right after the song ends, "Worthwhile" begins with some mediocre clean vocals that can't compare to what was heard on the first track. The song has great screaming vocals and spoken word vocals that again, will give the listener chills when they are heard. The song is actually very good but will be brought down simply because it had to follow "Reach the End." "We don't Believe" comes next and is another great song to add to the list. More melodic overall than the first two tacks but still fast enough to start a good ol' hardcore circle pit. The chorus is a great sing along and not too long that the extreme hardcore fans get bored with it. The drums let up part way through the song as the chorus is repeated, which is another great addition to the song and the expansion of the albums sound overall. Track four "Making Waves" begins with acoustic strumming and more clean vocals that can be compared to the earlier track, "Worthwhile." The song is picked up again by Josh Kellam's screaming and the screaming parts are great. The negative of the song is that the clean vocals get kind of boring and drag on a bit too long. It's still a good track but not nearly as good as the first three. To end off the first part of the album the song "The Shame" begins. Right away screaming begins and doesn't let up throughout the song. It has less clean vocals than the others did and is very fast paced. The track isn't a memorable one but very solid and would be great for a live performance. There are a few clean vocals in it that seem a little bit forced and unnecessary.
Part two of the album begins with the song "Salty Grave." It is probably one of the more popular LIYW songs and for good reason. The clean guitar beginning is catchy and the song then launches you into more great screaming. The drumming on it is fantastic and the guitar work isn't too bad either. The lyrics are great (as usual) and are spat out of Josh Kellam's mouth with passion that could inspire the listener to want to do the same. Half way through, the drums settle and just a guitar and some cymbals are heard. This begins the best section on the whole album as the spoken word vocals begin. The lyrics are great and only get better as the vocals intensify and the instruments build up. The only way to describe the song would be the overused, cliché term: Epic. The gang vocals come in right after and are certainly no disappointment. At the songs conclusion the albums "ballad" begins. The clean vocals in this song unlike a few of the others are very catchy and offer a break from the brutality of the screaming that was heard so far. "Threads of sincerity" begins and sounds less produced than the rest of the album and is probably the worst track on the album. It is actually a remake version from one of their earlier albums. The chorus is catchy and bright but overall the song is very disappointing compared to the rest of Waking Giants. "The Beauty of Grace" then begins and makes up for the less than impressive song heard before. The instruments are great as well as the vocals. There are no clean vocals in this song and in my opinion, was smart to do so. I was starting to get the impression that the rest of the album would get poppier but was reassured that this is in fact a hardcore band. Following this is the song "Judas" which could be thought of as an interlude but still has vocals. It's the softest song on the album and proves to be quite beautiful and atmospheric because of it. It seems to go hand in hand with "Beneath it All", the final track on the album. The song starts out quiet and wakes up the listener with Josh screaming out the songs title. The guitar is very good on this song and it proves to be a great closer to a great album. It is heavy and soft, which sums up the album in its entirety. The clean vocals are well executed along with the screams, yet again, giving the listener chills as the song fades out.
Waking Giants is more than your average Christian metal album. It's inspiring and original but still at the same time, crushing and melodic. I would strongly recommend the album to fans of hardcore and metalcore alike and would recommend the songs:
-Reach the End
-We Don't Believe
-Beneath It All