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As I Lay Dying, ‘Awakened’ – Album Review

As I Lay Dying - Awakened
Metal Blade Records

As I Lay Dying have been on the scene for more than a decade now, and they are back with their sixth studio album ‘Awakened.’ In the fickle, ever-changing world of trends and short attention spans, it can be difficult to build a lasting fan base, especially in the metalcore genre.

However, AILD has managed to develop a sound that is consistent and recognizable. All the ingredients from past AILD albums are on ‘Awakened’ – a mix of harsh and melodic vocals, catchy hooks, palm-muted guitars and monster breakdowns. But, the band has refined and enhanced those ingredients, resulting in a highly polished  product.

Eschewing a long intro or interlude, ‘Awakened’ begins with vocalist Tim Lambesis taking a breath, letting out a scream, then yelling ‘Go!’ ‘Cauterize’ gallops along for a bit, then eases back with melodic vocals from bassist Josh Gilbert. It has all the elements expected from a metalcore song, including a big breakdown, but it is executed so flawlessly and has so many catchy moments.

Gang vocals are in full force on ‘A Greater Foundation,’ which is bound to get the crowd moving in a live setting. One area that has really improved on ‘Awakened’ is the guitar solos. Phil Sgrosso and Nick Hipa are showcased on several songs, with effective solos on songs such as “Resilience” and “Whispering Silence.”

After working with Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage) on their last two albums, As I Lay Dying turned to Bill Stevenson (NOFX, Black Flag) for their latest album. The sound on ‘Awakened’ is pristine without being sterile, and doesn’t dilute any of the heaviness or tone down the cranium rattling breakdowns.

It’s hard for any band with screaming vocals to break into the mainstream, but AILD has songs that are very accessible. ‘Overcome’ has a memorable chorus and inspirational message along with plenty of punch that’s aggressive without being oppressive.

Speaking of vocals, Lambesis steps up his performance on the album. He shows more diversity in terms of tone, emotion and intensity, while Gilbert’s delivers rock-solid clean vocals on the disc.

‘Awakened’ is not breaking new ground when it comes to metalcore music, but if you want an expertly executed, well-written album, As I Lay Dying deliver the goods.

3.5 Stars

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