Album Review: As I Lay Dying – The Powerless Rise

As I Lay Dying are a band whose star has been rising incessantly since their debut ‘Frail Worlds Collapse’. Pioneers of, and rooted firmly in, the metalcore movement that was the flavour of the last decade, they have managed to remain a force in heavy music by dialling up the heavy on each successive release.

As I Lay Dying The Powerless Rise ArtworkSo it is with their new record ‘The Powerless Rise’. Right from the start, when ‘Beyond Our Suffering’s wall of sound hits you like a mace to the skull, there is a noticeable focus on writing heavyweight riffs – much more so than on previous records. Which is not to say that melodies have been sacrificed; next track ‘Anodyne Sea’ brings back the instantly memorable and hummable chorus lines we’ve come to expect from the Californian quintet. But even here the low-end will punch you in the gut and leave you hunched over.

Having Killswitch Engage stringslasher Adam D on production duties guarantees a fantastic sound, and he seems to have taken particular care to highlight Jordan Mancino’s contribution behind the drumkit. Every snare hit and every kick of the bass drum is brought to the fore with a feral intensity that thus far was only hinted at on As I Lay Dying’s records (and, truth be told, lost a bit behind the fantastic riffing and gargantuan vocals). The drums sound vital and only reiterate how Mancino’s playing is as important to the sound of the band as rifflords extraordinaire Hipa and Sgrosso.

In many ways, ‘The Powerless Rise’ is an enigma of a record. The band isn’t doing treading a different path from previous records – the core elements of aggressive verses, soaring choruses, melodic riffing and breakdowns are completely untouched. Yet, this record manages to surpass all its contemporaries by distilling that core to its absolute purest form. After all, if it was so easy to write aggressive yet melodic, breakdown laden music, every Johnny-come-lately scene band would be hugely successful. If anything, As I Lay Dying have proven the old adage of a progression in sound necessitating a change of said sound completely wrong. ‘The Powerless Rise’ is a natural progression of the exact same dynamic that made them so successful to begin with, but a decade on it shows how you can make a record with the same base formula and still sound fresh and unique.

Don’t believe the hype? Listen to ‘Upside Down Kingdom’ or ‘Vacancy’ and experience the fury for yourself. As I Lay Dying have been one of the big bands of the previous decade, and you would be foolish to bet against them repeating the trick this time around. [8]


About Abhijeet Ahluwalia

Abhijeet Ahluwalia – I’m a freelance journalist who goes back and forth between London and Bombay. A huge metalhead, but I have an eclectic taste, from reggae to punk. Oh, and Manchester United are the greatest team in the world. Follow me on Twitter or drop me a line via Email.

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