Review Summary: As I Lay Dying's sixth release will please melodic metalcore fans, but might put off die hard fans of their earlier material3 of 3 thought this review was well written
As I Lay Dying has always been a band known for regularly releasing consistent albums, chockful of technical metalcore riffs, furious drumming, and aggressive vocals. However, each album subsequently features more melody and shows more of a thrash metal influence. With their previous release, The Powerless Rise, they showcase their thrashiest and most melodic album yet, with great success. It received unanimous critical acclaim, and was considered their magnum opus. However, Awakened strips the thrash elements almost completely in favor of a more melodically metalcore sound, with only a few songs featuring thrash riffs. The guitar and drum work mainly stays the same, while the vocals are much more varied, making use of bassist Josh Gilbert’s clean singing.
The albums single, Cauterize, is a respectable As I Lay Dying track, featuring a clean chorus sounding disturbingly close to Forsaken (from An Ocean Between Us) and Parallels (The Powerless Rise). The structure is practically the same, featuring fast verses full of fast thrash/metalcore guitar riffs followed by a clean chorus sung by no other than Josh Gilbert. A decent track and a good opener for the album, but hardly the best.
The next two songs, A Greater Foundation and Resilience attempt to combine thrashy verse riffs and tapping with the most melodic choruses the band has ever attempted, disturbingly bringing the discography of A Day To Remember to mind. While the album clearly shows a post-hardcore/pop punk influence absent from previous albums, As I Lay Dying thankfully rarely repeat this trend on subsequent tracks.
The most memorable and by far the best song on the album, Wasted Words, clocks in at track number 4, featuring the strangest sounding choruses and bridge of their entire song catalogue. While most of their tracks bring visions of rebellion, faith, redemption, loss, and unrestrained fury, Wasted Words takes their abilities to a whole new direction, sticking in the mind more deeply than any pop punky chorus thrown in any of the other ten tracks.
Whispering Words and Tear Out My Eyes make heavy use of Josh Gilbert’s singing, a notable change in the overall vocals of the album as a whole. Almost every song contains his clean singing, some succeeding more than others. However, most of what to expect from this album comes in the first four songs: blisteringly fast metalcore songs with a more melodic fell than previous releases, but still maintaining their signature sound. The maintream-sounding structures might put off die hard fans of Frail Words Collape and Shadows Are Security, but most should be able to accept their new style, even if it does feel slightly underwhelming in execution.