Howdy y’all, Brad and Tozeski are both out of town this week so Brad asked me if I might be interested in writing a guest piece for Musically Diversified. Seeing as this new track came up, I agreed. Enjoy.
When a student of American literature hears “As I Lay Dying,” most likely they recall the stream of consciousness masterpiece published in 1930 by William Faulkner. Mention the same name to a devotee of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, and they’ll think of the incredibly talented metalcore quintet from San Diego.
In my opinion, As I Lay Dying (often abbreviated AILD) has been one of the few bands that managed to distinguish themselves from the horde of often terrible metalcore bands that emerged around the country in the early 2000s and these days their sound has evolved with a very intriguing approach to the genre. All the elements are there: the dueling guitar lines, the shred-tastic riffs, the let’s-find-joy-in-our-tormented-lives choruses, the high-gain solos, and the very moshable breakdowns. However, with their most recent studio album, The Powerless Rise, they finally found that certain quality that defined the best parts of their previous efforts and refined it to point of symphonic cacophony (I realize the paradox of that statement). Somehow in that forty-four minute album they managed to pack a level of musical bravado that probably surpassed all of the combined work and effort that went into their first three albums (Beneath the Encasing of Ashes, Frail Worlds Collapse, and Shadows are Security). This one album is what really cemented AILD as one of my favorite bands, and that year Brad and I had the pleasure of seeing them on the Cool Tour.
Well, the boys are back in town again, and this time it’s with a track off their new album, Awakened, entitled “Cauterized.” The band offered it up as a free download, but if you missed out on the opportunity it’s probably already up on that video website (you know what I mean).
I nabbed it when I got home from work that day and with fairly high hopes queued it up on my stereo while I was unwinding. After the first listen, I was very intrigued. Holy crap, this could be the start of something great was the thought in my head, so I sat down again and pulled out my headphones for a closer listen. After I got over the over-compressed mastering (When will more bands follow in the footsteps of Mastodon and realize that the Loudness War was dumb?), I liked what I heard.
The opening riff reminds me a lot of the title track off of 2007’s An Ocean Between Us, with some very nice arpeggiated rhythms coming out of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso. The chorus is one of the more thought-provoking lines the band has written, strongly reminding me of “Parallels” off of The Powerless Rise and “Through Struggle” off of Shadows are Security. I feel like vocally, Tim Lambesis has tried to get back to his roots. Overall the timbre has the same quality as it did on The Powerless Rise, but his delivery has a certain earnestness that I feel has been missing on the AILD albums ever since Lambesis started Austrian Death Machine as an outlet for the testosterone-fueled machismo of heavy metal. The lyrics are at least as good as off their last album, but Lambesis seems to have found the passion that I believe were hallmarks of early gems like “Behind Me Lies Another Fallen Soldier” and “Confined.” If this is indeed the case, I believe the new album will be Lambesis’ best performance yet.
Moving down the line, the drumming from Jordan Mancino is tight and he locks the beat in perfectly. Mancino is one of the best drummers in the genre right now, as he has this uncanny ability to stay absolutely in time, almost as if he’s got a little Seiko metronome planted in his brain. The beat has great shape and really compliments the song nicely. Honestly, my only qualm with the song is that bassist Josh Gilbert seems to be lost in the mix. Metalcore, much like some of its contemporary genres, tends to master the bass rather far down in the mix and fills in the low-mids with a guttural guitar tone, but this is almost too much. Gone is the grind that gave great definition to tracks such as “This is Who We Are,” and instead we have a very laid-back performance from Gilbert. Hopefully this doesn’t hold true for the rest of the album.
Anyways, check out the new track. If the entire album (due out September 25) is anything like this song, it should be well worthwhile.
Check Out The Lyric Video For “Cauterized” Below: