As I Lay Dying - The Powerless Rise (Metal Blade/Riot)

The world’s pre-eminent Christian metalcore henchmen have returned with a vengeance. If you don’t have the appetite to swallow their positive message, then run for cover.

The truth is Juan Miguel hasn’t heard a single note of As I Lay Dying until The Powerless Rise joined his playlist a week ago. Strangely enough, after a few billion listens he realizes he hasn’t missed out on much. As I Lay Dying are oddly familiar and for obvious reasons; along with Killswitch, they’re the other band every semi-ambitious and semi-talented group of teenagers in America have been imitating between 2004 and 2007. Whether you call it metalcore or an insidious disease poisoning the minds of the youth, As I Lay Dying are pretty damn good at what they do. After all, as genre originators they have a God-given right not to suck at their chosen craft. 

With the formalities done, let the dissection commence. On its opening salvo Beyond Our Suffering Tim Lambesis and gang are at their most generic best. If the jackhammer drums and its furious pace—not to mention an empowering message that suggests we be less engrossed in our own foibles—fail to increase blood circulation, it’s okay. It’s a by the numbers affair anyway, with nary a few original touches.

Anodyne Sea proves a huge leap forward as its melody and lyrical drama elevate it past your usual As I Lay Dying fare. By the time Without Conclusion barges in the listener is glad for the change of pace. Rather than indulge in their predictable melodic nonsense As I Lay Dying deliver a beat-your-chest anthem destined to send those pesky emo kids among the audience into fits of mixed martial arts when this song is rendered live.

Though metalcore’s lyrics are usually serious, unadulterated cheese reigns on the positive vibe of Parallels. You know, it’s one of those songs with a great hook and an irresistible chorus that will make your heart flutter every time you hear it. Disgusting, right? Wait until Anger And Apathy continues where its predecessor left off, with the same results.

Once the thrash barrage Condemned is underway the listener can’t help notice the serious dose of testosterone coursing through each note. Too bad it’s sandwiched between less stellar offerings. And if it weren’t for the two-hit finisher combo of The Only Constant Is Change and The Blinding Of False Light this would be a sub-par album. It isn’t by any stretch of ‘bad’, just a tad predictable.

The Powerless Rise is out now on Metal Blade/Riot