Released: 2010, Metal Blade
When vocalist and founding member, Tim Lambesis, jokingly dubs his life's work "As I Lay Crying" on his Schwarzenegger parody, Austrian Death Machine, you can't help but give this lot credit for not taking themselves too seriously. And it's just as well, for as much as their last album, 2008's AN OCEAN BETWEEN US, was embraced by a legion of awkwardly dressed teens, the credibility they're eager for from the rest of the metal fraternity has thus far eluded them and with good reason. Not the least of which, their discography to date has been a patchwork quilt of prototypical metalcore dross - by turns formulaic, at other times completely anemic.
When "Beyond Our Suffering" explodes off the blocks, you're instantly led to believe that the band has ditched the worn references to Swedish melodic death metal. As an appetizer for what's to come, the cut is rabidly acerbic, and mercifully bereft of a choirboy chorus at any point. Don't be fooled however; no sooner would they turn you into a believer, for what "Anodyne Sea" showers saccharine-laced urine on their parade - ironically right before the album launches into its finest hour on "Without Conclusion". Had they continued down this track; one where they clearly appear more comfortable and are undoubtedly more effective, THE POWERLESS RISE may well have been one of the year's major surprises.
Unfortunately that's not the case, though as it is, this is still probably the best thing that As I Lay Dying has slapped their logo on to. True, it's infuriatingly uneven and riddled with the sort of trendy BS that has long outlived its welcome in heavy metal. But if nothing else, there are a handful of reasons scattered across the disc to warrant a visit to the iTunes store – and that's more than they've ever been able to pull off in my mind.