As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us
MetalBlade Records
12 songs (43:21)
Release year: 2007
As I Lay Dying, MetalBlade Records
Reviewed by Joe
Album of the year

I must have been living under a rock, at least a rock that prevented me from hearing As I Lay Dying. It seems everyone has heard of the Californian metalcore band except me, but as they say, better late than never.
With three albums already under their belts, As I Lay Dying's latest An Ocean Between Us is as I see it, a modern day classic. In some ways you could call this style modern, up-to-date thrash metal. Full of gloriously fast riffing and harsh vocals, but with modern influences like Nu metal heavy guitar work, clean vocal passages and perhaps a more melodic approach but still a resemblance to thrash metal in it's unforgiving, take no prisoners attitude.
From start to end, the foot is firmly on the pedal on this gas gazzling monster truck of an album. AOBU contains constant knockout tunes and all delivered with great skill and depth to the songwriting.
Obviously coming to this band with fresh ears, I can't say how different AOBU sounds from their previous albums, but industry insiders (some metalheads I know) tell me this is what they consider a more mature, experimental album. Decide for yourself but I'm certainly hearing in some ways a metal hybrid of the melodic approach of Soilwork and the heavier, raw intensity of Fear Factory, which proves an interesting combination.

Vocals are perhaps the main drawcard of the album for me. Lead vocalist Tim Lambesis is on top form and grunts and shouts his way through the songs with ease and is in perfect harmony with the music. Without a shadow of a doubt though, clean vocalist and bassist Josh Gilbert makes this album his own. Many bands have tried the combination of harsh and clean vocals and no doubt countless more will try, but never has the balance been so perfect as with AOBU. Used primarily in choruses, Gilbert has a fantastic vocal range and adds such a boost to the songs that lead vocalist Lambesis couldn't do alone. Although Gilbert's strong American accent might annoy some people and give nightmares of emo/punk American bands, I personally find it perfect, especially on the title track An Ocean Between Us. Massive highlight is Forsaken, especially in the song's last 1/3 but set your face to stunned for I Never Wanted, a deeply introspective track that builds up to a finale that will stick in your memory like an axe.

Guitar work is simply sublime, a strong sense of harmony and a sound that makes full use of the duel guitars, all this and a very cool guitar tapping interlude Departed and your really not left wanting. Same goes for unsung hero Jordan Mancino on the drums. There is so much going on in the music you sometimes forget how good this guy is, but make the time to listen to the outstanding work.
Minor gripes being that as good as Comfort Betrays and Bury Us All are, I couldn't help thinking that the running length could have been more. With around 2:30 for both, I think the songs could have benefitted from a longer track length on par with the other songs, but it's a minor gripe from this listener, not a negative comment on the album.

Not a weak track and a journey from start to end. This is in some ways the new era of heavy metal that incorperates both the past and the new, put simply, we have a very fresh and enthusiastic album from As I Lay Dying. Disillusioned by today's heavy metal scene? Sick of everyone copying each other? Bored of cheesy power metal bands? Tired of operatic metal with too many keyboards? Hate overlong, boring progressive metal? Want to remember why you listen to heavy metal in the first place? Get An Ocean Between Us, it's that simple.

Killing Songs :
An Ocean Between Us, Forsaken, I Never Wanted, This Is Who We Are
Joe quoted 95 / 100
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