Wikipedia has the definition of metalcore as a cross between extreme metal and hardcore punk… BOLLOCKS is my response to that as metalcore is synonymous with everything soft and commercial in metal despite what record labels say in their blurb. Crikey a visit to the Scuzz or Kerrang TV channels is enough to make you vomit most of the time. However I have always said that I do like the metalcore scene, the side of it that has been around for well over a decade and has unleashed a raft of globally accepted bands such as Unearth, In Flames (nowadays to me anyway), Trivium, Bullet For My Valentine to name a few and, of course, As I Lay Dying whose sixth album is simply entitled “Awakened”. One of the true originators of the scene AILD can proudly say they are at the top of their game with this latest offering which begins with the radio friendly “Cauterize” and a highly polished sound using a fast pace like In Flames but tempered by very clean accessible vocal lines, perfect for the girlfriends of two stepping adolescent lads. The breakdown is predictably placed, as they all are on the album, as is the harmony lead work with the insertion of a half blast for added aggression.
Can you tell if I like this album or not yet? The build up to “A Greater Foundation” has a characteristic metalcore intro sequence of fade in guitar and snare rolls before a macho bark comes in and followed by a fairly swift pace, not too far from melodeath territory. As ever clean vocalisations add commerciality necessary for today’s middle ground teenage fans, who are either too afraid of deathcore, or too narrow-minded to realise that music exists outside of those said TV channel abominations. “Resilience” has tons of Trivium guitar hooks and leads and is the first tune that stands as hostile metal with hefty double kicks and a meaty approach similar to All That Remains. This angle continues into “Wasted Words” and “Whispering Silence” as both use massive amounts of Unearth within the guitar work. I liked both of these songs as they are varied with decent ballsy metal sections but punctuated with well situated leads, which are exceptional throughout the album in all honesty. The flurry of tunes from track five to seven sit far more comfortable than the outright commercialism of “Defender” which made me wince a few times with its very fluffy vocal lines and bouncy riff pieces. “Overcome” the first of the five to seven section is the heaviest tune on the album, with a ton of double kick and a deluge of lead work making the song really quite good.
The one minute interlude, “Washed Away” is really the intro to “My Only Home” to me and uses a good In Flames like riff that I enjoyed, OK I admit it. “Tear Out My Eyes” closes the album with a chunky chugging riff and more of that fluffy singing which works within all of the songs and at least the tone never falters like some bands of this ilk. Having listened to this I’d probably go see AILD and would likely be the oldest geezer there like I was at a Parkway Drive gig earlier this year. Overt commerciality is scorned by most extreme metallers, but you cannot deny the damn fine song writing on “Awakened” and also the way the band has the ability to blend aggression and accessibility within them.
7.5/10 (Martin Harris)