As I Lay Dying… of laughter

June 22, 2010

So that’s a little of what’s been going on.  Unlike what I said before I won’t be reviewing the System’s Officer record because I wanted to have a little fun with a metal album and I’ll show you what I mean later. I wanted to choose a fairly mainstream band that most people paying attention to the metal scene would know. As fate would have it… As I Lay Dying was releasing their Powerless Rise album. Now… this is about as mainstream as I’ll ever get on this page. I know they are on an “Indie” label, but this band has been around since ’01 and is five full-length releases into their career, although with a few line up changes. I wanted to have the review up before or just as the album came out on May 11th but just couldn’t get around to it, plus I wanted to do something a little special.

Cover art... click it for their myspace.

I remember listening to the Shadows Are Security album in the years after high school when I was getting into standard metal stuff like Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom etc, and didn’t think too much of them even then. I even remember them playing at Club Denim (back when it was club denim) the same night I tried to promote a show, (back when I  tried to promote) which didn’t work out well for my attendance. Even then the pop choruses tended to bother me, but the fact that they could be unbelievably heavy, I could not deny. So having grown out of almost all strait up stuff like that, I listened to the new album with hopes that they had grown in all ways, but still maintained their previously established heaviness.

My first listen I was actually pretty satisfied with a lot of things. The speed parts are damn heavy with great layering of multiple vocal styles around the main growl. The first song has a really great old school speed part halfway through and the rhythm is actually a little bit on the different side. But the beefs that I will begin to have with the record start to become apparent almost immediately. The first two riffs go back and forth like a pendulum, leading perfectly into the solo, leading perfectly into the breakdown, which leads perfectly into the repeat of the original metal-core riff. This track is called Beyond Our Suffering… Now, I’ve already had a few rants on how pissed I get when metal bands try as hard as they can to be as cliché-metal as they can in their band and song names, so I won’t even start.

Anyway, the album moves on to ANOTHER song that’s in-between two and five minutes long called, Anodyne Sea. It’s in this song that you can really start to hear a distinct positive of the album and an area that the band has clearly worked on. Of course I’m talkin’ ‘bout the solo. It’s not just the riffing or the shreds or the sweeps either, which can only ever follow the harmonic structure supplied by the rhythm and bass guitars (Unless you’re Muhammed Suicmez… then you just do what you feel like). They impress me on many occasions with the quality of the solos, but never seem to break out of the classic metal-core song structure, tone, or feel. Although, if there is an exception to that it comes in the third song, which is aptly titled: Without Conclusion. The reason it stands out is because it’s the only time on the album where they incorporate blast beats with any efficiency, if at all. This small part at the beginning flat out SHREDS! Yet you only get about 9 seconds of it in the whole song! I know I rag on bands for doing the same thing over and over, but why do that part for 9 seconds and the same metal-core part with the snare on the ¼ note for more than half the album.

live - click it for tour dates

Now I promise I won’t make you read me talk about every song so the last one I’m going to talk about specifically is called Parallels. This album doesn’t have a title track (thank christ) but it seems the one that most fits the bill, is Parells indeed.  Reason the first: Traditional production methods have the main single or title track at positions one, three or four. Reason the second: This song has the most cliché metal intro of all time. I actually laughed out loud when I heard it. Reason the third: It has the standard heavy metal riff into catchy metal chorus. Reason the fourth: That pattern repeats followed by the bridge and the solo (which is pretty slick in the sweeping department) Reason the fifth: The chorus is the catchiest on the album and the producer new it, as he chose to repeat the progression at least 20 times. This song just seems manufactured to be some bastardized version of “epic” so that the fans have a song title to yell out at shows. This is the last song I’m going to talk about in full.

The rest of the album is more or less more of the same. There are some things worth mentioning though, like an insanely heavy riff just after two minutes into the last song, (unfortunately it goes into a breakdown I’ve heard all too many times) or the incredibly slick tapping transition in The Plague. The fact that they didn’t incorporate too many of the lame hardcore breakdowns is one that I completely welcome. It’s like they replaced half the cliché breakdowns they’d normally have, with a couple of nice old school shredding parts like the beginning of Without Conclusion and towards the end of CondemnedUpside Down Kingdom is probably the worst song on the album and gives new meaning to phrase “album filler”. Anything else specific you can hear for yourself I’m sure.

So I’m, going to take this opportunity to so have a little fun with this album. If you’ve read this blog or talked to me in person you probably know that my biggest beef with metal music these days is that too much of what’s going on is too interchangeable and boring. So I decided to test my theory. What I did was bring every track from Powerless Rise into Protools and try to edit a new song out of parts from all the others. Now this might be a harsh thing to do to a band, but it’s not a direct rip on As I Lay Dying, but rather all bands that tend to write like this. Obviously some edits you can hear and aren’t as smooth as a song would be. I actually prefer this Frankenstein song over the real songs because the slight changes in feel and tempo make them sound much more technical. There are 16 edits in all, using every song, even if for only two seconds.

What can I say about the production? Well like I said before, the vocal layering is really well done. He sounds really deep at points (end of The Only Constant Is Change) or high and full of presence like in most transitions leading up to a fast part. The guitars sound up the industry standard of “heavy,” as do the drums. Not that the industry standard really floats my boat, but it’s not something I could complain about. I really enjoy how the bass was often mixed clean, even during some more intense parts. When the guitars have that much gain in the tone, sometimes adding more elsewhere on the track takes any resemblance of tonic stricture away. Indeed, sometimes that is the goal, (Meshuggah) but not all the time.
As a whole it’s really hard to find a part on this album that is not in strait four timing. It’s also impossible to find a song on this album that doesn’t have at least one repeating progression that uses strait sixteen’s on the kick. When you have an album with eleven short songs, that have nothing to do with each other, yet all still incorporate the same musical style, structure, feel, idea, and purpose, it starts to become very tiresome. That in a nutshell was how I felt after listening to it the first time and indeed how I feel after listening to it all a few times.

Anyway… sorry for the delay on this review. I’ve had a bunch of other stuff on the go and couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write a review. Especially after still getting shit from Baptized and Odium fans. Hopefully it won’t be as long for the next review from me. The next review in general should be from a different distributor and should be the first ever film review. So look forward to that.

for our glorious dead..

Hill of yage

This week I’ve been listening to: SLEDGEHAMMER!

Dear god this band is amazing! A tech/prog metal band with no guitar player! check them out!

This week I’ve been watching:

Going through The Pacific for the 3rd time. So much intensity and power.

Just realized this character's name is "Sledgehammer"... weird


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