In the three-year interim between 2007's Ocean Between Us and The Powerless Rise, San Diego's As I Lay Dying toured widely enough to cement their relationship with then-new bassist Josh Gilbert, who also picks up some backing vocal chores. It's not that that they've changed their formula so much as honed it to something so sharp it bleeds excellence. While everything here charges maniacally and furiously from the opening track -- and first single -- "Beyond Our Suffering," right on through to the set-closer "The Blinding of False Light," there are some slower intros on tracks such as "Parallels" and "Upside Down Kingdom" that work to stellar dramatic effect when the tunes give way to furious thrashing.
A melodic metalcore behemoth... Whether ‘The Powerless Rise’ should be commended for not kneeling at the weathered throne of deathcore, or condemned for remaining within the confines of metalcore, depends on the listener’s view on a band’s musical development. Either way, As I Lay Dying have created an album that is inarguably a melodic metalcore behemoth.
Of all the dozens and dozens of American metalcore bands who bluntly co-opted At the Gates’ groundbreaking blend of melody and aggression and drove it into our heads instead of trying to come up with something remotely original, As I Lay Dying is one of the tired genre’s most inexplicable success stories. At their worst, the San Diego band can be hopelessly generic, the songwriting often lacking the melodic punch of peers All That Remains and Killswitch Engage, the vocal work of frontman Tim Lambesis strong but failing to differentiate from all the other death growlers in metal, their live show devoid of the energy and charisma that a band like Unearth exudes in spades. Yet by sheer will they’ve chipped and chipped their way into the heads of younger metal fans especially, building an extremely loyal fanbase from the ground up by literally playing anywhere and everywhere over the course of ten years to the point now that they can keep churning out the same old tired Slaughter of the Soul rip-offs and be assured of a top ten debut on the album chart.