Reviewed by Bec Hennessy
Tim Lambesis takes a breath and screams. Drums slug away at the fast melodic riff. It feels like he came for a fight. But it’s of the shadow boxing kind. As the breath runs out at the end of this record his inner struggle still unresolved with the dying howl of “I am awakened, yet tear out my eyes”
‘Awakened’ is the sixth album from California’s As I Lay Dying. It’s the metalcore frenzy you have come to expect from these guys. Powerhouse drumming, hard and fast riffing, melodic vocal intervals and churning heavy breakdowns. It’s a tight wall of sound they have honed over their decade long career. And the years don’t see them slowing any.
The Ministry-esque guitars of ‘A Greater Foundation’ fade in over a machine gun riff that is swiftly opened fire upon by drummer Jordan Mancino. Combine the two, it becomes the most straight up hardcore track on this record. Evoking a circle pit in my mind. The vocals transition from screams to the shout along breakdowns to bassist Josh Gilbert’s melodic intonation “Sometimes we have to watch our whole lives fall apart before we can rebuild them again – a greater foundation”.
‘Wasted Words’ has an urgent guitar crescendo that draws me in instantly. Interspersed with even more urgent riffing. Washed away by a beautiful breakdown during the chorus which has a clean vocal harmony and guitar melody mellowing Tim’s defiant scream, before the racing guitars scramble to dominate once again. That chorus and this song are sticking in my head, it’s a combination something As I Lay Dying do well – sweeping guitars combined with brutal drumming, ridden by duelling melodic and harsh vocals.
Elsewhere ‘Overcome’ and ‘No Lungs to Breathe’ let guitarist Nick Hipa run rampant with some lightning fast solos. ‘Washed Away’ is a short and dark instrumental. Coming off like the ominous outro from a post apocalyptic movie, the part where you see the heroine escape yet the screen cuts to black before you are sure she really made it out alive. It seems fitting, as the lyrical undercurrent continually seems to be asking the question how and will we make it out?
‘Tear Out My Eyes’ brings it all back to where it started. As I Lay Dying are a tight outfit. They’ve got the complete metalcore package; the alternating heavy and sweet vocals and crushing breakdowns are beautifully and perfectly executed. Lyrically they seem to be struggling reconcile the forces within and without. At least musically they have found a place.