Review Summary: Surrounded by fear and confusion, As I Lay Dying quietly craft a career defining opus. Not their greatest or most memorable, it simply is.
Though the partitions between each portion are less clear than ever, let us pretend for a second that As I Lay Dying's sixth studio offering 'Awakened' is an album able to stand alone from the rest of their catalog. Is this a memorable entry in the general musical canon? Debatable, though I've encountered far more vaunted offerings whose impact was far less snaring. Is it the best written collective of songs composed? Definitely not. The million dollar question in today's musical landscape is: is this worth the money it's tagged with? In that respect, I feel it is. I strongly feel this is worth the time it takes to sit through the 11 (or 13) tracks.
As I Lay Dying bring more melody to the table. And more thrash. And bigger choruses. And soaring vocals. Gang choruses. Sing alongs. The theme seems to be less of an overall awakening and more of a general alarm. If you don't get your ass out of bed the first time, just play that tune louder, faster and harder. Tim Lambesis growls, barks and roars more ferociously than ever. At the end I'm left wondering: are these guys trying to craft the world's heaviest greatest hits collection? Or is there really more to this progressively poppier, progressively thrashier, progressively sweeter metalcore onslaught?
The jury is out as to whether As I Lay Dying's pushing has gained them any ground or whether they're simply treading water. What can be concluded is that this band's sound is no longer in question. Rather than following their peers and look future forward (many of whom progressed after first copping many of AILD's own mannerisms and writing styles), AILD look back to their influences. What results may not be the most innovative or best written album but it is most definitely not to be mistaken for another band's output. This is truly who they are: thrashy yet poppy, hardcore gang vocals and metallic licks, raging blast beat drums and an ever expressive dual vocal assault. With a scene populated with acts struggling to find their place, As I Lay Dying stands out by retreating into themselves.