Review Summary: As I Lay Dying finally write a record that lives up to their potential.
In today’s Metalcore dominated heavy music scene, you’d be hard pressed to find a better known band than the San Diego, CA based quintet As I Lay Dying. Their breakthrough album, 2005’s Shadows are Security
tossed them towards the front of the mile long list of breakdown heavy, Gothenburg-inspired Metalcore bands, but it wasn’t until its follow-up An Ocean Between Us
that As I Lay Dying started to find their voice. Even then, they were still not living up to the hype that surrounded them. So here we are, three years later and As I Lay Dying are still doing everything the same as they always have, and yet their new album The Powerless Rise
is by far the band’s best effort. Surprise, surprise the secret is in the songwriting. Much like their scene contemporaries August Burns Red, As I Lay Dying bring out the best of the rigid structures they have chosen to work with. The riffs are meatier, the leads are catchier and the breakdowns, while still present, are reserved for only optimal moments, making The Powerless Rise
an instantly memorable modern metal album.
The guitar duo of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso dominate. For forty four minutes they dial up the perfect mixture of chug and melody. From the sugary leads in “Anodyne Sea” to the thrashy, dissonant powerchord pounding of “Condemned” they lead a tag-team assault that, while guilty of wearing their influences a little to proudly on their sleeves, is downright addictive. Vocalist Tim Lambesis has never been one of As I Lay Dying’s strong points, but his voice sounds revitalized on The Powerless Rise
. This is partly due to his inclusion of more high register screams to compliment his standard growl, completely negating the memory of his history of monotonous vocal performances. The only real negative in the vocal department comes from bassist Josh Gilbert. His clean vocals still bring to mind every sing-scream band of the last decade, but luckily his spots are carefully chosen and even though they are totally devoid of any personality, are a welcome break from Lambesis’ rasp.
The Powerless Rise
is just more proof to the adage that practice makes perfect. Sure, it’s taken five albums to get it right, but As I Lay Dying have finally created a beast of an album that is on par with the hyperbolic amount of acclaim they have garnered for themselves in the metal world.