Whether you’re the biggest fan of them or not, you have to recognize As I Lay Dying’s contribution to modern metal. Very few acts remain so in tune with a signature sound, yet attentive to detail and diversity to create six studio albums. In celebration of the release of their new album Awakened, Mind Equals Blown has taken the opportunity to look back at three milestones in As I Lay Dying’s energetic and relentless career.
1. “The Darkest Nights” – from Shadows Are Security
As I Lay Dying may be able to credit this track for their notoriety, as the song was sought out and replayed heavily after the release of The Hills Have Eyes 2, back in 2010. But preceding that time, “The Darkest Night” flaunted harmonious guitars, the passionate but guttural screams of vocalist Tim Lambesis and one of the band’s first anthemic and definitive choruses, making it a fan favorite on Shadows Are Security. Though relatively simplistic compared to later work, it was a sure hit and a mark of a growing band who were finely tuning their sound. But it would hardly touch what a matured As I Lay Dying is capable of.
2. “An Ocean Between Us” – from An Ocean Between Us
Until this point, you had never heard As I lay Dying in such a cohesive fashion: amazing, dynamic production brought together by tight riffing, relentless drumming, bold structuring and an immensely energetic chorus that exudes momentum. Though this song – and by extension the album from which it is named – has gone on to inspire bland imitation, this was a shining moment for the band. They fully demonstrated a balance that many dream of – a catchy factor, if you will, that does not ruin the flow and dynamics of a furious metal track. It is possible to have accessibility weaved into sheer power and heaviness.
3. “Wasted Words” – from Awakened
And now we arrive at what 2012’s Awakened sounds like. The monster of an album wastes no time in showing refinements and completely rubs them in your face with “Wasted Words.” Thrash influences have never worked this well for the band as the double kick bursts forward with shifting fretwork that literally left me jaw-dropped. Lambesis especially sounds better than ever, singing with great clarity as he channels a piercing high and an utterly evil low that resonates with chiming guitars and a haunting atmospheric element. It’s a perfect testament to the raging aggression that is repeatedly shot out of Awakened and out of a band that has upheld and enhanced such an attitude for 12 years and six albums, a rare and awe-inspiring feat.