As I Lay Dying shows change is good

justin.marietti and justin.marietti

Change is not something that people take lightly, especially in the world of music. Often when a band changes its sound, it is almost guaranteed to lose some of its fan base. The band may also gain a few fans who weren’t interested before. But just like anything else in this world, sometimes change is necessary and for the better.

“An Ocean Between Us,” As I Lay Dying’s (AILD) fourth major label album, is a shining example of this fact. The San-Diego based Christian metal quintet is trademarked by their extremely melodic — yet chunky — guitars, brutal, punk-infused drum beats and a vocalist who only has one or two different types of screaming vocals, which become pretty repetitive over the course of an entire album.

A few of these elements have not changed much on the new record; the guitars and drums sound the same, except maybe that they’ve upped the ante in comparison to their previous efforts. Tim Lambesis, AILD’s lead vocalist, shows much more diversity on this CD than ever before, because he is able to use a similar vocal texture to the music he is singing to, such as putting very deep vocals over a low, bass filled breakdown in the music. This is much better on the ears than the former monotonous, streaming vocals that tended to make their music sound muddy.

After the band’s previous disc, “Shadows are Security,” they parted ways with bassist/vocalist Clint Norris. AILD chose to recruit Josh Gilbert for “An Ocean Between Us,” and they also had the record produced by Adam Dutkiewicz, the guitarist for Killswitch Engage and a friend of the long-standing members of AILD. “An Ocean” shows way more melody in the vocals, and it’s these two factors that caused this CD to sound different from everything they’ve done before.

Gilbert’s vocal style is fairly similar to the bassists they’ve had on previous albums, except it’s much more prevalent, filling a good portion of this record with higher, clean sounding vocals. They’ve had three different bassists on their three major label appearances, and it seems like Gilbert clicked the best with the returning members of AILD.

As I Lay Dying does, however, remain true to its roots on this record, choosing to separate the melodic tracks from the traditionally heavy ones. However, some of the tracks that define this album are the ones that are able to mix AILD’s definitively heavy sound with the melody that Gilbert brings in, such as “Forsaken” and “Wrath Upon Ourselves.” I’ve been a fan of just about everything AILD has done so far, but I’ve always felt like they lacked the ability to seamlessly mix melodic vocals with their more metal sound – it was either heavy, or it wasn’t. This is something they have accomplished to perfection on their new album, and because they’ve taken this step forward, I think this is an album to be praised.

“The title [of “An Ocean Between Us”] is about the separation we need to have between the expectations of the rest of the world and what our goals are. There are dreams we’re taught are normal, whether it’s money or success or any of those things, but we shouldn’t believe in those things if they are not important to us. There is an ocean between our real lives and what is expected of us,” said Tim Lambesis on the band’s MySpace page.

He added that As I Lay Dying is focused on being passionate about what they do, and creating music that has meaning behind it.

“It’s not just mindless, mass marketed pop music. For me personally, within the band, and within my life, I want to stand up for what I believe in. That’s more important to me than the success or popularity that comes from being in a band.”

AILD is currently touring overseas in support of their new record, and will be returning to the U.S. at the end of October for a full-scale tour.