I’ll start by stating that I’ve made a major mistake for not waiting the whole year to end before I give my final top-20 list to the chief editors. This album shows me that it’s the last time I did it and from now on, I’ll be giving my list the first day of each new year, when I’ll have listened all the albums of the current year.
It’s quite impressive but still true, As I Lay Dying have made me declare they are the most improved band the last five years. It was the release of their catapult album ”An Ocean Between Us” in 2007 that blasted my head and caught me by great surprise. I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe that a once very sympathetic band had grown to a professional monstrous hard working machine that would eventually devour everyone. Add the fact that I saw them live a year ago in Bulgaria for the promotion of the previous album ”The Powerless Rise”, where they were ten times better than what you listen to their albums and the whole package was fixed.
After two great albums like the aforementioned ones, AILD set on to record their sixth full-length. Let’s face it, they have little to do with the band that released ”Beneath The Encasing Of Ashes” back in 2001. Their raw energy then would lead them to fast and somehow more death metalized material but in the end the whole good effort sounded not in order and quite sloppy. Things would become better with each release and they are currently the top selling band of a colossal company like Metal Blade Records. As it becomes clear, ”Awakened” had already a difficult tusk from the beginning: Continuing the rollercoaster ride of the band without losses.
The Californian quintet sounds this time a little more progressed and different than in the past. The energy is there, the choruses, the beatdowns/breakdowns, the drummer’s fantastic performance, the guitars that hold the rhythm but also add some very good leads and background melodies, and above all the beast on the microphone called Tim Lambesis whose performance is even better than the previous albums. Are all these enough to enjoy once more an album of theirs like we did with the past ones? Here comes comparison and further explanation why ”Awakened” is some steps backwards compared to the past.
While you get a great start of the album with ”Cauterize” and ”A Greater Foundation”, with both being the shortest tracks and the album continuing consistent with tracks that reach but never surpass four minutes, you get the feeling that somewhere you’ve heard these before, not only from the band but also other great American bands. What minds the most is that you’ve heard them better, more focused, more uncontrolled if you think in cold blood, with the final taste making you bang your head again and again. ”Awakened” creates headbanging but also many other questions you wouldn’t think before starting focusing on it.
Have the Americans reached their top level of inspiration and energy? Was this somehow more melodic direction a result of the non-stop rise they had the past five years? Nobody can clearly tell. Many bands out there would be blessed to have such an album, but since As I Lay Dying have reached other levels, we must be harsh at them. Everything is so much in order that you miss their early days of innocence and raw approach of material. ”Awakened” is a very good album but is also an album which holds them back, rather than exploding them to space like everyone was waiting for. I enjoy listening to it but I’ve heard way much better albums in 2012.
02. A Greater Foundation
04. Wasted Words
05. Whispering Silence
07. No Lungs To Breathe
09. Washed Away
10. My Only Home
11. Tear Out My Eyes
12. Unwound (Awakend B Side Demo)
13. A Greater Foundation (Extended Demo Version)Jordan Mancino – Drums
Tim Lambesis – Vocals
Phil Sgrosso – Guitars
Nick Hipa – Guitars
Josh Gilbert – Bass, Vocals
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