Review by Jack Arkell
(Metal Blade Records)
An album title can often increase in meaning and significance after listening to the record itself. More than just a hollow moniker, a title can represent a mission statement when done correctly. And it is in line with this logic that As I Lay Dying truly are Awakened for their 6th full length release.
While no-one is accusing the Californians of sleeping in the two year period that has seen them record and tour ‘The Powerless Rise’, this latest release is a sign of the continued evolution and progress of a band that are newly energised and in the form of their lives.
A record far more expansive than their earlier work, ‘Awakened’ is melodic enough for non heavy metal fans to enjoy, without As I Lay Dying losing any of their integrity. Just listen to ‘Wasted Words’ and ‘Whispering Silence’, two of the highlights of the album. Regardless of genre boundaries, the quality of these tracks is undeniable.
Most of the songs are instantly recognisable when you go back for a second listen, barring just a couple in ‘My Only Home’ and ‘Defender’ which take a while longer to etch themselves into your memory. That’s not to say that they are weak tracks by any means.
If there is any criticism worthy of stating, it’s that ‘Awakened’ is slightly top heavy. The first six tracks are by far the best on the album, with the record peaking too early. It’s not completely downhill after that, but there is a marked difference in quality. Also, instrumental piece ‘Washed Away’ feels very superfluous, especially compared to some of the more vital moments of the collection.
But it is all too easy for a reviewer to pick out the smallest flaws, and those mentioned do little to minimise the overall product. Is this the best work As I Lay Dying have recorded to date? Quite possibly. Are they now going to go on to become one of modern metal’s most respected acts? Quite probably.
8 out of 10
- A Greater Foundation
- Wasted Words
- Whispering Silence
- No Lungs to Breathe
- Washed Away
- My Only Home
- Tear Out My Eyes