As I Lay Dying – Awakened
Metal Blade 2012
If ever there were a machine created to mass produce metalcore in 2012, As I Lay Dying‘s “Awakened” would serve as the mold. Encompassing nearly all aspects of the genre, this is a workman-like album that eschews innovation for refinement.
Tightly performed and admittedly overly processed, the group rip through eleven tracks that feature every metalcore hallmark you could imagine. Opener “Cauterize” sports the spoken word breakdown with bass drops; “A Greater Foundation” has the call and response scream/shout; “My Only Home” brings out the trusty gang vocals; while “Resilience” enlists some blackened wretching.
In essence, “Awakened” serves as the catalog for showroom metalcore. Numbingly clean and produced to perfection there is little here that doesn’t feel manufactured. Such is the case then that it is often a frustratingly formulaic experience. One so heavy on polish that you can barely appreciate the ingredients.
Sure the group flex their considerable muscle through the menacing verses. But all too often they indulge in the same trite, melodic choruses. This is a combination used so repetitiously that seasoned listeners will soon find themselves correctly telegraphing what comes next.
Thankfully the bands aggressive side isn’t as cookie cutter. “Wasted Words” for instance sports some interesting progression. But with an abundance of stale melodies that are almost always in the same key, and a considerable dearth of visceral emotion, it’s a rather lopsided package. There is little challenge to be found on “Awakened“—just predictable songwriting that is as inoffensive as it is labored.
If you weathered the metalcore explosion of the early 2000’s then you’ve experienced this entire album’s gameplan. It’s been honed to a razor sharp tip, but there’s barely enough force left behind it to break the skin.
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