Review Summary: Back, with the same stuff, some new stuff, and as always, something decent to listen to, but nothing to get too excited over.
I don't want to write a useless, pre-judgemental review for you all, so I'll say some things first. As I lay Dying has never succeeded in disappointing me, OR amazing me, so I'm jumping in this with sure first impression. Also, for accuracy, and your consideration, I'll be listening to these songs as I write the review.
Beyond Our Suffering - In my opinion, not the best way to open an album. This would make a decent filler later in the album, but opening this way takes away from this albums depth. Guitar is heavy and fast as expected, but it's just not that catchy. Drums are good, as usual. They lack any noticeable fills, but they are a nice thick chunk to add to the percussive guitar parts. Bass is audible, for once, and actually, it makes this song sound considerably better than it would without it. While the vocals are, very good, they are monotonously brutal. They sound great, but it's just the same thing the whole time. (6.5/10)
Anodyne Sea - This is one of my favorites. While the guitar is not exactly brilliant, there are so many underlying sounds and lead parts that add to this song that make it sounds really nice. Other than the one note breakdowns, you can tell this was well thought out. Chords are very well aligned also. I'm also liking the drums here. There's some machine gun double-bass, in the middle , just noticing. The rolls and fills really help this song through it's ups and downs without sloppy transitions. Bass is kind of irrelevant here, and you can't hear it without really trying pretty hard to. Cool little slide at 0:34 though. People think the sing/scream thing is pretty generic, but it doesn't change the fact that I like to hear singing, mixed or not, so it's definitely a plus here. If anything can be said, great chorus. (8.5/10)
Without Conclusion - This is the 'Comfort Betrays' of this album. Easily the fastest and heaviest song on the album in my opinion. There are some guitar elements I find different, and likable here. For one, theres some pick scratches used as part of the riff in the beginning. It's less annoying than catchy, so, a plus. Also, more solos, more often, and they do quite a bit for this song, mainly, helping out that awkward transition from chorus to verse, by distracting us with catchy lead licks. Drums are on like a nonstop roll in this song, and even though it's a bit monotonous, I would have it no other way. Bass is very audible, and that good. It's not amazing, but, it's just bass, so it's good...for bass. Vocals have a bit more range on here, which helps, and, you can kind of understand them a little in the chorus, since he is obviously reciting the song title at some point. (7.5/10) I just can't settle for a whole number.
Parallels - A nice guitar intro, that flows well into the verse. I can say there are more technical, and complex guitar riffs here. Whether thats good or bad, up to you. I think the chorus sounds very nice. It's some stuff this used with 'Nothing Left' It sounds totally different, not like a rip off an old song, I'm just noting a recycled element, which I enjoy hearing. Quite catchy. The drums do their job. Good fills, good beats, parallel (pun intended) with the percussive guitar and bass in this song. Bass, isn't relevant till the middle of the song, which goes in a direction I've never really heard them go exactly, leading up to a...pretty? solo. You'll change your opinion of this song one you get here, you really will. For the first time their history, I can confidently say that this song has a main base of clean vocals, excluding the first two verses. Even with those, the singing really makes this song what it is. (8/10)
The Plague - This is like the first song, just, in the correct spot. The guitar is pretty boring, not due to lack of depth. The best parts of this songs, are the leads over those, so simple rhythms. Decent, not really catchy. Drums are a bit overused here. They sound good yes, but it's the same kind of stuff used in the other songs, except that, many, less, nonstop? Kind of generic rolling...OTHER drum riffs could have sounded better, thats all I wanted to say. Bass has a nice thump to it, and, actually drums too, but only in the last half of the song really. Theres just not much to be said about vocals. A bit of range, all screaming, and inaudible, like the majority of the other songs. (7/10)
Anger and Apathy - After a thorough bashing, this song is really nice. Maybe thats what they intended. The closest thing to rock I've ever heard out of these guys. The guitar is a nice change of pace. Applaudable choice of chords. Definitely more melodic, and its a nice break from the percussive patterns that are drilled into our ears the rest of the time. I am impressed with the drums. There are some really good solid beats that help this song sound great. Mainly, not so many rolling fills steady double bass. Theres actually some nice, thought out beats here, doing a great deal. Another first, in the middle of the song, a nice big wide open space, and one stand-out bass track. It's nothing special, but it offers a sound you don't hear out of them much. This is also another one with a lot of clean vocals. I am enjoying them, like usual. (8/10)
Condemned - I've got to say, very rocking guitar piece here. Opening is, brilliant actual, pounding verse, good contrast in sound. The chorus has a pause in it, which is just a cool sound here, and there are some good leads that make the song sound a little more melodic. The solo is outstanding. Drums are pretty sick here too, not in complexity, but just in the feel of the song. I could do without such repetitive beats, but they are doing their job, and I can't complain. I am actually excited about the bass here. The opening riff, which is also thrown in again before the solo, has a nice little thump in the bass, that makes that riff sound, what some may call 'dope'. Did you guess? Vocals also impressed me, not so much singing ability, but also the creativity. The first are like a crescendo, 'condemned, condemned! CONDEMNED!' It's actually exciting. The only thing disappoint me is that this song just ended...(9/10)
Upside Down Kingdom - My first note, is that there there is a nice lead harmony in the beginning, and while the riff is thick and heavy as usual, it's based more on melodic feel, and not so much percussive rhythms. A very sort of empty chorus, with little going on with guitar, but it works well that way. The drums are, the usual, everything you've read about so far, except that the intro builds up very nicely into that first verse, and it gets you hooked in. That is important after all. Bass, matched with the guitar and drums in the breakdowns, keeps a very tight, pounding rhythm, and just does it's job and adds some depth to that rhythm. Vocals don't stand out here. Good, but once again brutal and monotonous, aside from the chorus, which is different--intelligible and monotonous. (7/10)
Vacancy - There is some decent layering in the guitars, and good harmonization, making the main verse quite enjoyable. Some breakdowns seem thrown in there. Not much else to say here, except they also make good use of some delay (those little echoes, for you non-musicians). I have to say after like an hour of hearing these drums, they don't often break from the sort of constant rolling, and the lack of any standout patterns in beats takes away from this song. The bass helps out through all the more subtle guitar parts, and helps me enjoy this song much more than I would without it. There is some decent range in the screaming here, and basic singing, which is enjoyable, but lacks any luster. (7/10)
The Only Constant Is Change - This songs sounds too much like a bunch of riffs thrown together. The riffs are very plain and boring, and and it just feels like a constant barrage of mediocrity. It's thoroughly disappointing until about the last minute. For that, I'll keep this above a five. Drums also seem to involve little thought, and even if they did, they wouldn't be able to help the messy construction of this song. Bass is, well, I don't know where it is, but it's not here. And yes, more boring vocals, with the title recited far too many times. It's just that nothing fits here, it feels so random and not the kind thats on purpose. There's nothing else to say. (5.5/10)
The Blinding Of False Light - The guitar is interesting, and very spacious. Thats the only way I can but it. It leaves for the song to bleed in, and helps it impact your emotions more than stimulating you temporarily like many others. That's been missing too much in other songs. The drums make me happy. Maybe the best on the whole album. Why you may ask? Because not only are they slower, but they sound like they involved thought, and the rhythms are more complicated, which is good because before they were too simple. This way is just right. I have to credit bass again, because in the layers and scattering of all the different sounds, it stands out, and helps the chords stand out, so you can tell what underlying tones support those guitar parts. The vocals, do not impress me, but I can see that that just isn't going to change. They are heavy, they are brutal, and they are monotonous, but they work. Atleast they ended this the right way and faded out. (7/10)
Basically, this album started in the middle, brought me way up high, and then brought me way down low. Some songs, like 'Condemned', 'Anger and Apathy', and 'Parallels' took me places I haven't been before with this band, and I really enjoyed it. Sounds like "The Only Constant is Change' almost made me regret obtaining this album. Nothing was awful atleast, and atleast some things were great.
So theres your review. I hope it helps anyone who is debating getting this album.
Just remember, 3.5 doesn't mean great. That's 7/10. That's a C. It's your call.