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Minor Step Back, but Still a Great Release - 80%

Cloud0129, October 12th, 2012

I’ll be honest about this band. While I don't mind certain metalcore/deathcore bands, I didn't like this band too much until they released the phenomenal An Ocean Between Us back in 2007 with the thrash/melodeath influences. That and vocalist/frontman Tim Lambesis changing his vocal style for the better.

Tim Lambesis and Josh Gilbert are the stronger points of this band, using the same vocal style as other metalcore bands, but not as "whiny" as, say, modern Underoath. As noted before, Lambesis uses roaring vocals and some occasional shouting nowadays, and that still hasn't changed. Gilbert's clean vocals haven't changed much, either. He does add to the melody of the songs here, so that's a good thing. Gilbert also happens to be the bassist at times, adding to said melody with more than his voice. An example of this is the second song, A Greater Foundation, where Lambesis does most of the vocals at a certain point, while Gilbert only does the chorus in these songs. Fits well, but eh, the formula could be changed slightly/used slightly less, as I sometimes felt that clean vocals, when done right, can add a lot, but in this case where Lambesis is a solid screamer, I don't see why clean vocals are used to begin with. But eh, it doesn't bother me too much since Gilbert is a solid singer and he doesn't make the music worse.

Guitarists Phil Sgrosso and Nick Hipa seemed to unfortunately calm down with the amazing and memorable melodic solos this time around, sadly, as certain songs do not have them, unlike with their previous records that were loaded with them, all sounding amazing. The solos are still great, but it's just a bit disappointing that they didn't use them nearly as much. The riffs have a great sound and tone for -core standards. Breakdowns are still present. That never changed for sure, although I did feel like they put more emphasis on them this time around.

Jordan Mancino does his job as the drummer. Passable, but nothing too awe-inducing nor too horrendous. He manages to keep up just fine. Still, I can't think of a drummer who does better here even when he isn't the next Pete Sandoval.

What about the lyrics? Everyone claims that they are your stereotypical Christ stuff, but that has never been 100% true. Rather, the lyrics seem to focus more on relationships and personal struggles. On the other hand, it makes some sense as many of the lyrics could technically apply to Christians. Heck, Lambesis did say that they embrace the label as a Christian metal band, as the members worship the Lord himself.

As for the music itself, I felt that it went backwards in terms of technical musicianship, An Ocean Between Us and The Powerless Rise had obvious thrash influences that contributed to the awesomeness of those two albums and that Slayer cover shows that they can do thrash quite well. So now I found myself asking "WHY THE HELL DID THEY DITCH THAT AWESOME SOUND!?" Back Awakened seems to be a mix of the old and new AILD, really. I personally miss the old sound, but it has more emphasis on the new sound, so I didn't mind too much. That being said, I do hope that they go back to their old sound.

Overall, if you’re a fan of metalcore, definitely pick this up, even more so if you're an AILD fan. For the purists that associate -core with emo/scensters, steer away as your mind will not be changed with this record and stick to Deicide.