Metal Blade Records
May 11th, 2010
Release length: 44:14
Right from the start, As I Lay Dying tears into you with “Beyond Our Suffering”, easily one of the heaviest tracks that the band has recorded up to this point and borders more along the lines of Melodic Death Metal then anything due to the real lack of anything Metalcore-oriented from the entire song. Consider this track more of a warning of things to come, as after this track the album does start slowing down. Track by track, The Powerless Rise does start to become a little less edgy, but not enough to deter the listener. At first, the songs following “Beyond Our Suffering” may be a bit hard to swallow at first due to the more melodic hooks and metalcore sound used, but after a few spins they will grow on you. The rest of the album does follow this sort of musical approach, with the exception of a few other heavier tracks here and there, but singing that doesn’t quite seem to fit the profile is also incorporated. “Parallels”, for example, is much lighter then “Beyond Our Suffering”, coming at you with a mid-tempo pace and really focuses in on the clean sung catchy chorus aspect of the band’s writing then anything with singing vocals that practically contradict the heavier material on the album. The peculiar thing about this song is that it bleeds into “The Plague”, which furthers the band’s more Melodic Death Metal sound by being more intense then any song on here, lack of clean singing, and hooks. This track even features some gutteral vocals at the start, which only adds to the impact the song has. After this point, it no longer acts as gradual, and the shifting between light and heavy becomes much more blatent and often quite dramatic with no bleeding in or out of other songs.
While the band has had much success in the past with lighter, catchier songs, the real gems of this release are the heavier tracks. “Beyond Our Suffering”, “The Plague”, “Condemned”, all great songs that just have such great force behind them, as well as some great guitar solos, and really cast the band into a light that is rarely seen. That’s not to say that the lighter cuts on this release are bad either. “Parallels” is a great song for what it is, and seems to follow the signature song writing style that As I Lay Dying has established themselves on over the years, being moderately heavy then going into a slower paced Metalcore chorus with singing. The same can be said for “Upside Down Kingdom”, as well as “Anger and Apathy”. The only problem these tracks bring in is that the main vocal style used through the album is rather deep and sometimes goes into gutteral here and there, so bringing in a multi-layered much higher pitched singing that drowns out the accompanying screaming winds up hurting the songs in the long run because it sounds out of place and whiny against the musical backdrop the band has recorded on this album.
Aside the singing, many of the other tracks not specifically named in this review wind up being entertaining, but nowhere near as powerful. “Vacancy” is one of the better ones, but doesn’t typically stand out that much. It follows the same formula that is laid out with “Parallels”, and is one of the very few tracks on here to feature a hard hitting breakdown. But, aside the breakdown, there’s really nothing all that great about the song until around the end when the guitar chords change up, making the song sound as if it is going to build up again only to do a quick fade out. Aside that, the rest wind up feeling a little repetitive from each other. Of course, some of the aforementioned lighter tracks can also become repetitive themselves in their structure. All of them essentially follow the sing chorus, scream everything else format, but you will notice some, such as “Parallels” and “The Only Constant Is Change” seem to be structured the same way. There’s a decently long openning verse, then chorus, then you get the next verse, which is significantly shorter then the first, which slams right into the chorus, bridge or guitar solo for good measure, then chorus again.
The Powerless Rise is a fitting title to describe a good majority of the music. In a sense, the album is a rise to power thanks to the very heavy tracks that litter the album, but at the same time those tracks feel powerless against the overwhelming amount of well performed, formulaic melodic tracks, and mediocre songs that often could have been something powerful but typically come off as repetitive filler. There’s plenty of positive aspects to keep coming back to this release for a good while, as it is a solid effort with plenty of memorable tracks, it’s just that there’s so much potential on this release that sometimes just feels wasted and will have you skipping over some songs. The best way to get the most enjoyment out of here is to approach it more as one of those Halloween mixed grab bag of goodies you would get when you were a kid, but the only thing is that you got that last bag which had one too many giant candy circus peanuts in it.
01. Beyond Our Suffering – 2:49
02. Anodyne Sea – 4:34
03. Without Conclusion – 3:15
04. Parallels – 4:57
05. The Plague – 3:42
06. Anger and Apathy – 4:25
07. Condemned – 2:49
08. Upside Down Kingdom – 4:00
09. Vacancy – 4:26
10. The Only Constant Is Change – 4:07
11. The Blinding of False Light – 5:10
|Overall Score: 7/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.