For a little over a decade, As I Lay Dying has been a staple in the metalcore community. Through the years, the one album that has stood apart for me is Frail Words Collapse. Not only was it the introductory album, but it has continued to be the one I enjoyed most. Yes, Beneath the Encasing of Ashes came first – I understand that. But, the power and creation that supported Frail Words Collapse was above and beyond what its predecessor had shown.
Obviously everything that came after Frail Words Collapse was celebrated and pedestalized. For whatever reason, the album before Shadows Are Security, An Ocean Between Us, etc. has always seemed to sit heaviest with me. Unfortunately this theme of always liking whatever comes first, or whatever I am introduced to first, seems to be never-ending.
“94 Hours” and “Forever” will forever be tattooed on the glamorous history that is AILD. Personally, as much as I enjoy zigging when mainstream is zagging, I have to agree. The two tracks show the band at their most devastating, thunderous and brutal in their purest form. While many of their latter releases would dive deeper into technicalities and experimentation (somewhat, I should say), the earlier days showed a much more raw and shattering band. I firmly believe vocalist Tim Lambesis and drummer Jordan Mancino are at their absolute best throughout these two tracks and the rest of Frail Words Collapse.
Moving past the obvious, “The Beginning” and “Behind Me Lies Another Fallen Soldier” are definitive favorites of mine. They too have stood the test of time, collectively improving upon the album’s overall strength. Although they may not be many people’s first choice, or may even be overlooked or overshadowed by the two heavyweights of the album, these tracks add their own unique elements to the mix. “The Beginning” stands firm in digging its nails deep into the metalcore genre that stuck with them moving forward. It is truly the most “metalcore” track that the album has to offer. “Behind Me Lies Another Fallen Soldier” takes an enormous step back, slowing things down. Typically a huge no-no – but not in this instance. The track sits in the middle of the record and isn’t what most would suspect – a distracting track thrown in the middle of an explosion. In fact, it does just the opposite. Its distraction comes in the form of brilliance.
Going back to my earlier comment about always like the “first” and sticking to my guns, perhaps I should explain. Protest The Hero‘s Kezia, The Human Abstract‘s Nocturne, Between The Buried And Me‘s The Silent Circus, Enter Shikari‘s Take To The Skies – to name a few – are all still my favorites by each of these bands. Even though each band has since created more popular – and in all likelihood, better – records, the originals are still the ones I would take to the grave. Obviously this theme doesn’t always define me, but I do feel that it is becoming increasingly evident over time.