Metal Blade Records
November 8th, 2011
Release length: 38:28
Well, for those who pretty much orgasm over everything this band does and practically declares war on those who have anything ill to say about their works (I’m looking at you “anonymous” hate mail writers!) this will be yet another release that they will love. However for the discerning fan or general listener, Decas is more a companion album then an actual necessity for many reasons. First of all the audio quality here is crisp and has that somewhat sleek modern sound to it that As I Lay Dying has been known for with their recent releases. The vocals vary nicely between the shouting style and some clean singing, and the drum’s cymbols clash rather loudly with tight snares and bass kicks with a nice click to them, but do end up a bit lost in the mix, especially when the music picks up like with the cover of Descendents “Coffee Mug.” The guitars sound heavy enough for the style with a decent bass performance that comes in pretty strong in the mix and really ends up being where the heavy sound of the recordings come in.
Aside the audio quality that has some good pros and the let down on the kicks due to volume and less-then-awe-inspiring guitar distortion or heaviness factor outside the bass in the clearer audio quality, you also have to contend with varying out-of-the-ordinary musical approaches from the group. First up are the three new original recordings, and for the most part these are some pretty good songs, but nothing too spectacular. “Paralyzed” clearly has a heavy focus on melody mixed with some standard heavier riffs for the more modern As I Lay Dying Metalcore sound. “From Shapeless to Breakable” is really where the band’s heavier intentions are on display, and the faster, more intense approach focused on screaming and not on hooks, though some catchy groovier chords can be found littered between the dismal, more atmospheric moments of the song, such as the guitar solo. However, “Moving Forward” is perhaps the worst of the three, more due to the fact that it does inevitably feel a little more on the whiny side of what this group can bring to the table. The higher, nasal clean singing really takes the song back a few pegs despite it’s catchier melodic riffs and somewhat lighter atmosphere.
With about two original songs really worth looking into, the rest of Decas becomes more of a test then anything as the listener heads right into the cover songs. First of all, the Slayer cover “War Ensemble” was apparently recorded for the soundtrack of the video game Homefront and was made a free download from the website songsfortheresistance.com. While not necessarily a bad thing, you do end up paying something for this song in the end. The song shows what to really expect from the group with these tracks, and that’s some solid music that sounds pretty strong and pays homage to the original versions well. However, you also get vocals that vary greatly and in many ways don’t work out for the music at all. “War Ensemble” feels that way with the traditional mid-range shouting and a few deeper growls here and there. This also appears during the cover of “Electric Eye” by Judas Priest, which fans of the original will easily declare blasphemy towards, and for good reason. But, musically the song is not too bad, and the same can be said about the instrumental introduction “Hellion.” However, vocally it becomes a bit grating as much of it is shouting once again, but the chorus actually ends up being quite enjoyable as a decent clean vocal performance is put in with the shouting more in the background that acts as an enhancer to the song then anything. But, one of the biggest faults to these songs, not including the screaming on the songs that didn’t have it before, is just the fact that these songs are simply not intense or that enjoyable compared to the originals largely due to the sound of the instruments being largely geared to a lighter, more melodic sound like the initial first three tracks had, as well as more recent As I Lay Dying material.
Finally, Decas brings the listener a series of remixed tracks. But, of these songs, “Beneath the Encasing” ends up being the one that really stands out thanks to it simply being a re-recording of material from As I Lay Dying‘s 2001 album of the same name in a medley form. The earlier heavy roots shine through nice here and feel much tighter and stronger then the new compositions that appear at the start of this release. This more intense track really marks the end of the disc in a traditional Metal manner, and brings in the new concept of Techno, Industrial, and/or Electronica fused Metalcore like some bands have started doing not too long ago. Early acts like Fear Factory could be blamed for something like that, but what comes next is absolutely horrible and heart breaking in comparison. Basically what has been done is some of the better known As I Lay Dying tracks have been stripped down greatly and thrown against some suiting paced but horribly generic House/Techno music. There’s really nothing here worth taking a look at as the songs are very boring except for “Confined” which keeps much of the actual Metalcore sound instead of wiping out the whole song for annoying as hell mechanical bass distortion and electronic noise that has nothing to do with the original track whatsoever. “The Blinding of False Light,” for example, has that deep bassey distortion only a computer can really create, and even couples in some midi-style music one might expect to hear on an old video game console like the Nintendo Entertainment System. There’s that and the “Wrath Upon Ourselves” remix that just sounds like the damn CD is skipping horribly while someone’s playing random digital noises and sounds equivilent to crickets chirping over it and calling it musical art.
Decas is a release that really didn’t need to come into existence. Of all the songs, “Paralyzed” and “From Shapeless to Breakable,” as well as the re-recorded “Beneath the Encasing” medley material. Outside that, there’s no real need for the rest of these songs to be here, or to have even been forged. Unless you’re an O.C.D. dedicated fan, this is a release that you really just need to completely bypass. Had the band issued this as an EP instead, and kept the initial first three tracks, it would have been worth some money. Instead, sample those original recordings and buy the ones you like from an on-line MP3 dealer. Your wallet will thank you for saving the money and your eardrums will thank you for not shoveling a lot of pointless material into their eardrums. Granted the covers here are not the worst you’ll ever hear though feel a bit treasonous due to the shouting, but those songs are really more b-side material with one already made available on-line for a free download in the past, so chances are you already have it. Again, sample and visit an MP3 on-line store for these too if you’re that curious, but you’re really not missing anything. As I Lay Dying seem to have put together a pointless EP to push the three new songs, and it’s sad to see them kind of pandering to their fans in what seems like an attempt to make some quick cash. At least, that’s the only reason I can actually see for Decas being put out there…
01. Paralyzed – 3:05
02. From Shapeless to Breakable – 2:45
03. Moving Forward – 3:42
04. War Ensemble (Slayer cover) – 4:51
05. Hellion (Judas Priest cover) – 0:44
06. Electric Eye (Judas Priest cover) – 3:46
07. Coffee Mug (Descendents cover) – 0:40
08. Beneath the Encasing (Re-Recorded Medley) – 3:58
09. The Blinding of False Light (Innerpartysystem remix) – 4:19
10. Wrath Upon Ourselves (Benjamin Weinman remix) – 2:26
11. Confined (Kelly “Carnage” Cairns remix) – 3:52
12. Elegy (Big Chocolate remix) – 4:21
|Overall Score: 3/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.