Album Reviews

As I Lay Dying – Shadows Are Security

(Metal Blade) UK release date: 20 June 2005

as-i-lay-dyingThankfully, despite the flood of whining haircut bands currently choking the life out of what is very broadly termed as ‘metal’ these days, there are a number of rising bands on the frontlines, vying for the position of standard bearer as they charge down from on high to devour the pretenders and have-beens with their bare hands. Despite their deceptively morose moniker, San Diego’s As I Lay Dying are one of the energetic leaders of this new breed, and the re-release of their third album Shadows Are Security places them right at the fore.

From the first punching smash of cymbal chokes and following onslaught of crunching riffs Meaning In Tragedy is a devastating listen. Tim Lambesis’ gruff and horse vocal grunting will render your heart cold as he scowls a remarkably inspiring philosophy from the bottom of his youthful lungs.

No sooner than the battering snare attack kicks in on second track Confined and frontman Tim has sent all those foreign to the concept of screamo vocals scampering for cover behind the sofa. The petrified masses have barely had time to plug fingers into their ears before the dulcet tones of bass player Clint Norris enters to lull them into the false security witha chorus so big it becomes quickly apparent that this band listened to far too much Queen in their formative years.

Despite its sheer brilliance as both a modern metal standard complete with battering thrashdrums and enough Killswitch Engage style riffing to get even Adam D’s head nodding along in time to the pounding beats, Confined is a fine example of why some fans will be dissatisfied with this, the band’s third album. The source of said strife is to be found in one word; melody. While there were snippets of clean choruses and sing-along flashes on Frail Words Collapse, it is perhaps the more prominent place afforded to the concept of tune, which dictates less spasmodic and edgy elements when held up against this release’s predecessor.

Alright, so the ‘real’ fans might be ticked off with the introduction of slightly more commercial elements to their heroes sound, but come on folks it’s not like they’ve got a stylist, taken toperching on stool under spot lights while strumming those heartfelt numbers about why they’ll never get the girl now, so what’s the big deal?

Yes cynics, I know Repeating Yesterday doesn’t start with an aural onslaught of percussive battery; those strange sounds drums sounds you are hearing are called toms and Tool have made a career out of using them masterfully, deal with it. To my ears this album is a logically progression from Frail Words Collapse, and while the guitar tones might be slightly less brutal, but on the rather large upside at least they’ve ditched the St Anger style drum production.

A rather splendid inclusion (in addition to the DVD packed with videos, and ‘making of’ style footage) on this special edition re-release are liner notes to each song written by lyricist and primary screamer Tim Lambesis. Digesting such information will notify you that there are more than a couple of songs on the LP written directly about issues as diverse as God’s love for mankind, sacrificial love and personal struggles with self discipline. Heavens above, a member of Iron Maiden will be confessing their faith in Christ next (can it be?!).

So, with deeply personal lyrical concepts, some of the tightest riffs you are likely to hearth is side of Vulgar Display of Power and an unashamed dedication to ruthlessly fusing hardcore metal with anthemic choruses, if you can place security in anything, it’s the fact that As I Lay Dying have got a corker on their hands.

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As I Lay Dying – Shadows Are Security