Review by Lilen Pautasso, as featured on New York webzine Puluche.com (http://puluche.com/reviews/as-i-lay-dying-awakened-62-5/)
Awakened is the sixth studio release by metal core long-timers As I Lay Dying. In a genre that is known for its restrictive song structures and break-down trends, metal core bands often struggle to maintain longevity in a music scene that demands creativity and musical innovation. Unfortunately, Awakened falls neatly into this limited style of music. With repetitive riffs, monotonous vocals and over-the-top break downs, As I Lay Dying does not present an excellent album, but rather an average one. However, while limited in its musical creativity, it is very difficult to deny that this album contains various positive attributes.
Kicking things off with a punishing scream, “Cauterize” is a stand-out track that fuses the fast and technical with the slow and progressive. This is an excellent start to the album that occasionally transgresses away from the stringent “sound” of metal core. Supported by an excellent rhythmic backbone, the song features some commendable feats of musical skill that is mirrored on other stand-out tracks “A Greater Foundation,” “Overcome”and “No Lungs to Breathe.” When comparing with other albums, Awakened contains noticeable improvements in both guitar and drum compositions. Having recently welcomed Bill Stevenson from NOFX and Black Flag, the guitar tones are sharp and heavy, always complementing a solid performance by drummer Jordan Mancino. As the most enjoyable aspect of the album, the drums are interesting and inventive bringing life to an album that suffers from uniformity.
While the album has some commendable features, it is difficult to deny that almost every track falls into the predictable metal core pattern of generic riffs and incessant, antiquated break downs. As a consequence, the album only manages bursts of creative engagement and it is difficult to feel entertained. Whilst rarely deviating from the limited diversity of metal core, Awakened does feature inklings of musical excellence that can only increase with greater focus on the evident talent of the bands musicians.
(c) Lilen Pautasso 2013