As I Lay Dying

An Ocean Between Us

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AllMusic Review by

As I Lay Dying offer album number four with new bassist Josh Gilbert, who replaces Clint Norris (who left to get married and settle down). An Ocean Between Us offers several new aspects in the band's sound: the churning hardcore is still very much at the center of the band's sound, as are the twin lead guitars of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso. Tim Lambesis is still the growling, razorbladed behemoth he always was, but Gilbert now offers melodic vocals on some choruses, effectively widening the band's reach even if it takes fans a while to get used to it. "Forsaken" will probably be the greatest shock, with its purely melodic, even majestic classic metal intro. The fury comes, to be sure, but not until a full minute in, and the opening riffs sound like outtakes from Metallica's Ride the Lightning LP -- by the time of the chorus, with Gilbert singing melodically, the listener will wonder whose record is on the spinner. There are far more trademark moments on the set as well, such as the title cut, which begins at 95-mph and ramps up to 120 and is pure pummeling power. "Wrath Upon Ourselves" will delight the faithful as well with its knotty stomp-and-start fury -- though the choruses, with the same kinds of melodic vocals, may disturb some. Change is inevitable in music as well as in everything else. The elements that made As I Lay Dying such a successful thrashing metallic unit are still in place; they are the marrow in the band's sound. These new developments reveal one thing: As I Lay Dying's members understand that progress is necessary for satisfaction and survival. The writing for this recording is an entire notch up -- more sophisticated yet utterly unpretentious -- and this new textural element in their sound feels natural and welcome.

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