Review Summary: As I Lay Dying step it up with their best release since the band formed.
This is my first review, so please use constructive criticism to describe my endeavors.
As I Lay Dying have sometimes (or usually) been seen as any other metal core band with a cheesy name. However, after "An Ocean Between Us," even the most biased troll can't say that they aren't getting better.
Tim Lambesis, their main vocalist, has come a long way, from indiscernible metal core vocalist to an unstoppable wave in the hurricane of metal. From the soaring verses in "Parallels" to the nonstop roars in "Vacancy," Lambesis proves he has what the genre requires, and presents these factors with near flawless precision and drops the monotone screams and seems to get some kind of melody in his screaming, or at least I seem to think so.
After "An Ocean...," you can actually notice the development in Josh Gilbert's voice, though admittedly still reminiscent of Justin Bieber's dad. The chorus in "Parallels" (which happens to be my favorite off the album) is extremely catchy, albeit a bit corny. Other times he (or whoever the hell wrote the lyrics) shows his rather creative side on the chorus of "Anger and Apathy," at least the tune anyway. The chorus in "Vacancy" is also rather interesting, and does seem to sound very generic at times. The combination of Lambesis as screamer/growler and Gilbert as clean back-up singer seem to work extraordinarily well for this band, creating catchy and sometimes generic tunes for songs that they deem are necessary for a cleanly sung chorus.
"I need to know that feelings of discontent are stronger
Than indifference for those too weak to stand."
-As I Lay Dying (Anger and Apathy)
Guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso show improvement as displayed over the various catchy intros present on "The Powerless Rise," such as "Anodyne Sea" and definitely "Upside Down Kingdom." The duo seems to really step it up, such as the harmonies in "Anodyne Sea," and the ending is just incredible, in terms of both technicality and catchiness (not sure if that's a word). The relentless riffing seems to compliment the lack of breakdowns in the album, although I may be wrong, I think I've only heard two or three on the album. The solo in "Parallels" is excellent, and quite possibly the best solo I've heard from this band.
Jordan Mancino and Lambesis are the highlights of this album, from accurately placed fills to the double-bass pounding seem to really keep the beat and get the listener's foot tapping.
However, even "The Powerless Rise" has its flaws. Josh Gilbert's voice is rather annoying at times, and is even cheesy during some songs. This album's playback value is decent, or low, simply because of Gilbert's quite generic voice and lyrics, but Lambesis' screams are top-notch, and are excellent.
-Excellent guitar riffs
-Not enough solos
Well, there you have it.
"The Powerless Rise" -As I Lay Dying
"Simplicity is not a curse where strength is humbled...
And the powerless rise (And the powerless rise)...
This is a kingdom born upside-down...
This is a kingdom where the broken are crowned..."
-As I Lay Dying (Upside Down Kingdom)