Personnel: Josh Gilbert , Tim Lambesis (vocals); Phil Sgrosso, Nick Hipa (guitar); Jordan Mancino (drums); Joey Bradford (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Colin Richardson; Carl Brown.
Recording information: Echelon Studios; Lambesis Studios, San Diego, CA; The Blasting Room, Ft. Collins, CO.
Photographer: Ty Watkins.
Honing their sound with razor-sharp precision, As I Lay Dying return with more driving, melodic thrash on their sixth album, Awakened. While the band's level of technical acumen and intensity isn't much of a surprise at this point, their decision to work with punk icon Bill Stevenson (of the Descendents and All) might seem a bit odd at first glance. Though Stevenson isn't exactly known for heavy music, he's very well-versed in the language of fast, and that common ground helps to make for a successful pairing of the two as the band deliver 11 relentless tracks that bring plenty of intensity without ever giving up control. For a band like As I Lay Dying, keeping a firm grasp on the reins is crucial; otherwise there's the risk of the songs careening toward disaster, as all of the songs' carefully interlocking parts fail one by one in a kind of Rube Goldberg-ian catastrophe. Fortunately, Awakened lives up to the reputation the AILD have built for themselves over the last decade or so of recording, showing their ability to find just the right balance between cathartic aggression and soaring melody while maintaining a velocity that seems more and more impressive as metalcore bands continue to depend on pop-oriented production and studio trickery to piece their songs together, rather than relying on old-fashioned songwriting ability and musicianship. This kind of skilled craftsmanship helps to make Awakened an album that will not only please AILD fans, but might just help to bring more traditional metal fans into the metalcore fold. ~ Gregory Heaney
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