As I Lay Dying – Decas [2011]

Band: As I Lay Dying
Album: Decas
Release year: 2011
Genre: Metalcore

Not a fan of the artwork? Same here!

Disclaimer: Now, I’m definitely not a fan of metalcore. I was closer to being one back when I was about 14 and I can kinda hear how it might be appealing, but it’s definitely not for me any more. However, seeing as most of this album is filled with cover songs and dance remixes, it should be okay.

Decas is the new compilation album from American metalcore band As I Lay Dying. The album starts without taking a breath. The first song is suitably called ‘Paralyzed’. There’s no slow intro, it’s just straight in there with heavy chugs beneath a drifty melody, before launching into some screams! This album sounds very good, in terms of the mix and how it all sits together. Not long after, the typical clean vocals come in, instantly reminding me of bands like Bullet for my Valentine and the like. The song switches between the cleans and screams up until a solo. The song lacked a lead melody, aside from the clean vocals, so the solo was very welcome and it was actually really good, despite being not especially technical, but that’s not the important thing when it comes to solos.

The next song (‘From Shapeless to Breakable’) is a lot more fast pace and starts very well – reminding me of bands like Chimaira, mixed with some more thrashy death metal bands. I was pleasantly surprised and it worked really well. Layered vocals and heavy as hell guitars  throughout, accompanied by chunky breakdowns and a dark solo render this song one of the best songs on the album.

The next song, ‘Moving Forward’, starts very typically, not just for the genre, but it actually sounds really bland for the album itself. The clean vocals and screams all sound very much like typical metalcore and it ruins it a little, because some of the riffs aren’t unbearable, with some of those reminding me a little of modern Children of Bodom. The clichés here really knock this song, and therefore the album, down. The song, like those before it, is essentially saved by the solo, which – like the rest – might not be technically impressive, but fits the song well and is welcome after a wall of bland riffage.

This finishes the original songs that are present on the album.

The next track is ‘War Ensemble’, a cover of Slayer. The song genuinely sounds a lot like the original, but what with it being recorded more recently, the song is a fuckload heavier and this really does it justice. The vocals are screamed, as opposed to Tom Araya’d (shouting) and again, this works perfectly. The solos sound a bit better, too, if I’m honest. I genuinely prefer this to the original song, so kudos to AILD.

The next cover up is ‘Hellion’/’Electric Eye’ (originally by Judas Preist). The first song starts slowly, with pounding drums and harmonised guitars. When the next song actually starts, it knocks you down. The drums smash in and it, again, sounds really good due to being a modern recording. The vocals come in harsh before layering up cleans with high pitched screams, which really doesn’t sound good to my ears and the cleans remind me of My Chemical Romance far too much. The solo is, again, tasty and the highlight of the song.

The next song is a 40 second cover of an American punk band called Descendents called ‘Coffee Mug’. Not much to say other than it sounds really punk rocky, but with screams!

‘Beneath the Encasing’ is up next and is apparently a re-recorded medley. The song sounds very much like the first 3 – a blend of groove, death, thrash and metalcore, steering more towards the latter. It’s not a bad song necessarily, but it’s very boring and could do with a little more variation – something a medley really shouldn’t need.

Next up are 4 songs that have been remixed to become dance tracks! Not only am I up against metalcore, but dance versions, too! I actually prefer a lot of dance music to metalcore and I’m a regular listener of electronic music. Also, due to studying sound production and engineering, I was very keen to hear these.

The first is titled ‘The Blinding of False Light’ and is a dubstep remix. There’s a slow build before harsh vocals come in, leading to the drop and the start of the standard dubstep sound. They clear up eventually and head to a break, where clean vocals echoe through. Another build follows and leads to a dance beat, with altered harsh vocals. The dubstep side returns and plays us towards a piano strike and a slow drumbeat out. The song was a refreshing change and wasn’t especially bad, just a little bland (as most dubstep is).

‘Wrath Upon Ourselves’ is next. The song is just noise. They’ve clearly taken the vocal track and just fuzzed the hell out of it, and stuck it under some fuzzed drums. A drifty and synthy part comes in for a split second before more mashed up noise! Being a fan of strange and industrial music/sound, I actually really like it. The fuzz breaks for clean vocals to come in and choir ‘aah’s then follow, under more fuzz and drums. I don’t think this song would be one for most to just listen to as part of recreation. I think this is more suited to those who understand and appreciate this kind of mashed up music.

‘Confined’ is next and has a fade in snare patter, under a synth and distant clean vocals, which fade into focus for some distorted riffs and some tasty artificial drums. The clean vocals are so very metalcorey and I couldn’t get into this song at all, despite it just repeating the same section all the way through it. Harsh vocals come and go underneath, but it doesn’t change a thing.

The final song is ‘Elegy’ and it starts with some torn up and distorted vocals before going into a very good Drum ‘n’ Bass drum rhythm. The song uses the cut up voice as an instrument at this point and it sounds very good. Harsh vocals come next and on top of synths. There’s then a breakdown section, which throws itself towards dubstep, but the bass section is so different to normal dubstep, that it doesn’t sound bland or typical in any way. Again, using the cut up vocals, which I actually adore in this song. At nearly 3 minutes in, the song jumps right down dubstep lane. The heavy bass sections still don’t sound typical, but they’re a lot closer than the ones before. The drums abruptly slow and then stop just as abruptly – a perfect ending in my opinion. This is the best song on the album, for me.

All in all, this album was a big blend of genres. The remixed tracks added a refreshing breeze to the otherwise standard album. It was interesting and fun to listen to the covers and how they’d been changed, but the music ended up being so similar to As I Lay Dying’s original work that it never really felt like a change. As for the 3 songs written by the band, only one was genuinely good, in my opinion (From Shapeless to Breakable). I know that the band will want to play the genre they love and appeal to their demographic, but surely there’s enough room for some experimentation? I think overall this album held some surprises and some good music, too. It’s just a shame that the highlights came from simple solos or work which had a sound that wasn’t even achieved by them.

In terms of the album and it’s music, there’s enough change and variety in there to outweigh any bad traits that it may have, but it’s a shame that the band can’t claim much to do with this variety, as a third of the album wasn’t written by them and another was built from past songs edited (by somebody else) beyond recognition. I respect their sound and originality, in terms of releasing an album like this, though, and it’s perhaps something more bands should think about, as fans deserve a change and a treat every now and then.

3/5

Reviewed by Jobe Robin

(Corvus of Morlich)

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