Released: 2008, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Just when I think that I’ve heard it all, been there/done that/bought the t-shirt, an album comes along that makes me sit up and take notice. AWAKEN THE DREAMERS, the 3rd release from Oakland California’s All Shall Perish is one of those albums. The band’s last full length, 2006’s THE PRICE OF EXISTENCE, was a significant leap forward from their solid, but one-dimensional debut HATE.MALICE.REVENGE, both in the areas of performance and songwriting. AWAKEN THE DREAMERS continues that progression with 12 songs of complex, well written, well executed metal that begs for another listen once the final strains of “Songs for the Damned” fade out.
Often lumped into genre categories like metalcore, deathcore, apple core, whatever-core, AWAKEN THE DREAMERS shows the band shaking off any preconceptions and stands as truly a stellar 36 minutes of exceptional metal. As evidenced on previous releases, the quintet is capable of a dizzying level of skill with their respective instruments and AWAKEN THE DREAMERS is no exception. The individual performances here are nothing less than jaw dropping. Guitar aficionados have a new hero in the form of lead guitarist Chris Storey. His amazing fretwork steals the show and is unquestionably the highlight of the disc. Never used as shred for the sake of shred, his blinding guitar runs are integral to the overall momentum and structure of the songs. The rhythm section of Mike Tiner and Matt Kuykendall is exceptionally tight while rhythm guitar player Ben Orum keeps things going with his breakneck staccato riffing. Vocalist Hernan Hermida takes the opportunity to stretch his legs throughout AWAKEN THE DREAMERS, displaying a vocal diversity that previously hasn’t been fully exploited. Hermida mixes it things up with a combination of quasi-coherent death growls, pained wails, and even some occasional Rob Halford high notes.
The 12 tracks that comprise AWAKEN THE DREAMERS cover a lot of musical territory. “When Life Meant More…”starts the party and immediately kicks you in the teeth with quick riffs that will cause heads to bang uncontrollably. “Black Gold Reign” recalls Iron Maiden in spots and shows Hermida hitting those Halford-esque peaks. “Memories of a Glass Sanctuary” is a doom inspired dirge, reminiscent of DISCOURAGED ONES-era Katatonia. A bleak and evocative wrist slitter, it’s a sharp left turn for the band, but doesn’t sound at all out of place. “Stabbing to Purge Dissimulation” and “Gagged, Bound, Shelved, and Forgotten” deliver up a solid one-two punch combination of heavy goodness, the latter being a candidate for song title of the year. Saving their best for last, “Songs for the Damned” is the epic culmination of everything the disc has been building up to. Heavy, powerful, moving, this is bound to become a new All Shall Perish signature song.
Some have already derided AWAKEN THE DREAMERS for various reasons – it’s too much of a departure, it sounds too clean, it doesn’t sound like the same album they released 2 years ago, etc, etc. Seriously folks, the hater parade needs to end. Every band worthy of true greatness comes to a point in their careers when they’re faced with taking a step forward into the unknown or being content with the status quo. Carcass successfully turned that corner with NECROTICISM, Emperor did it with ANTHEMS, and All Shall Perish does it with AWAKEN THE DREAMERS. A definite contender for metal album of the year, you owe it to yourself to own a copy of this.