This November we will see metalcore’s heavyweights, AS I LAY DYING return to Las Vegas. The ‘Shaped By Fire’ tour will hit the House of Blues on November 15th. It has been many, many years since this band has hit a stage here. And from a personal perspective, I am excited. The guys are making their return with supporting acts, EMMURE and AFTER THE BURIAL.
A little backstory...
So lets go back a little bit. AS I LAY DYING formed in the early 2000’s in San Diego, CA by front man, Tim Lambesis. The project started out with just Tim and Jordan Mancino. (Mancino is still drumming for As I Lay Dying today!) They were offered a deal with Pluto Records in 2001, and released ‘Beneath the Encasing of Ashes.’ Not long after, they also released a split album with the post-hardcore band, AMERICAN TRAGEDY on the same label. After recruiting friends to play with them for live shows and tours, the two decided to solidify the line up. Between 2000 and 2003 they saw the most changes with their line up and touring members. (Currently the band is made up of Tim Lambesis, Jordan Mancino, Phil Sgrosso, Nick Hipa, and Josh Gibert.)
Fast forward a couple years to 2003… (This is when I found them.) The contract with Pluto Records finished, and it didn’t take long for the guys to be picked up with the almighty Metal Blade Records. The second studio album released was titled, ‘Frail Words Collapse.’ It’s crazy to look back at the stats of this album, because I honestly had no idea that it pushed them into the success they built in the following years. The album peaked at #30 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, as well as #41 on the Top Heatseakers chart. With the way these guys execute their sound, it is just insane that something so gritty and heavy (for the time) could even end up on charts like this. I also really see this time period as an evolution to what metalcore originally started out as.
Metalcore Game Changers
Tracks such as ‘94 Hours’ and ‘Forever’ were just total game changers in my eyes. As someone who was originally interested in the lighter side of metalcore; with bands such as Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold, the genre needed something heavier. I needed something heavier. As I Lay Dying took some of my favorite elements that say; Bleeding Through use as far as overall heavy sounds in the unclean vocals; and melodic metal elements with their use of guitar solos. They weren’t just pushing out breakdowns and generic shit. Not in my eyes, anyway. Also keep in mind that this was not the same music that was being released the decade earlier. Bands such as Earth Crisis, Converge, and Hatebreed are among the pioneers in the fusion of hardcore punk and metal that became "Metalcore."
Following ‘Frail Words Collapse”; the band released “Shadows Are Security” in 2005, that album hit number one on the Billboard Independent Albums chart; and number 25 on the Billboard 200 chart. (You see why I refer to these guys as a metalcore heavyweight? Not only in underground popularity, but also in a more mainstream way; these guys were and still are a HUGE deal.) From 2005 through 2010 the band hit some of the biggest stages in the world. Such as Ozzfest, Sounds of the Underground, Taste of Chaos and Warped Tour. They also shared these stages with an uncountable number of recognizable names in the industry. From Slipknot, Rob Zombie and Unearth, to All That Remains, Suicide Silence, and Carnifex.
2007 gave us the ‘An Ocean Between Us’ release, which again climbed through the Billboard charts. This album also contains the song, “Nothing Left”, which the band was nominated for the Best Metal Performance grammy. 2008 through 2011 consisted of a few more releases; including the DVD set, ‘This is Who We Are” (which went certified gold not long after it’s release). ‘The Powerless Rise’ was released in May of 2011; and like the albums before it, received generally positive reviews and reactions from the public. This album was a show of their consistency through the years and their ability to stay pretty close to their root styles. The specific blend of metal, hardcore, and sometimes thrashy melodies were everything you likely needed and wanted to keep hearing from these guys if you were at all involved in this wave of metalcore.
The end of the first decade...
So there you have briefly the first decade of As I Lay Dying. From 2013 until now; (2019) we have watched vocalist Tim Lambesis go through life struggles and actions that many still have not been able to forgive him for. I don’t need to explain the details of this, you likely already know. From a personal perspective; this chapter of the band left me in utter confusion as far as where I stood as a fan, and as a person who has also made mistakes on this earth.
I didn’t get into Wovenwar, though I heard they did pretty well for what they were doing. And I often found myself missing the band terribly after the entire situation came to light. If I’m completely honest... I pretty much didn’t listen to the band until I started seeing Tim’s attempts to redeem himself; which is still pretty fresh and recent. I went as far as to try to not listen to “My Own Grave” when it was released last year. I said I wouldn’t, and it took me a WHOLE ONE DAY after and I had my head nodding again; even though I was still so torn at the time.
For those who are unaware of Tim’s character growth, he is now heavily associated with an organization called HEART SUPPORT. (Which is sponsoring this upcoming tour!) This is pretty cool to see, since Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red is the creator of this organization.
“Every year we help men and women brave their wounds, find purpose, and discover healing. Our goal is to create a legacy of life-transformation, freeing them from suicide, addiction, abuse, and mental health issues while empowering them with the realization they are loved unconditionally and supported by a community that believes in them.
Learn more about how we can help by clicking here.”
Tim took the time and courses to become an addiction treatment counselor while he was in prison. He constructively used the time he was given; and is now helping the people around him who are struggling in the ways he once did. This is an incredible step, in my opinion. There are so many people in this world who fuck up over and over again and have no sight of discontinuing their paths of destruction. Even if they’re given all the options and resources in the world. To recognize your problems, and actively do something to change AND help those around you; that takes STRENGTH. The video below is a great watch if you're genuinely interested in specific insights from the band and those who watched Tim unravel in 2013.
So where exactly are we today? As of right now, we are awaiting the 7th full length studio album by As I Lay Dying; appropriately named, “Shaped By Fire”. The album is being released on Nuclear Blast Records; (one of my favs!) with the official date being September 20, 2019. We are expecting this album to be filled with intensity like nothing else they have produced in the past. With all the drama and crazy shit that’s gone on surrounding these guys; I can only hope that pieces of that energy will come forward in this album.
Judging by the four tracks that have been released this last year, I’m not wrong. The sound is different; the vocals have slightly changed, yet still maintain intensity. And there are some positive changes in overall tone of the music as a whole when it’s compared to earlier releases. I am excited to see this band come back into the scene in full force!
My own expectation:
As far as the live show expectation, obviously (some) fan favorites mentioned above; (94 Hours/Forever/Confined/Nothing Left etc) should definitely be expected to be a part of their current live show. I am eager to hear the new shit live though. Purely based on the intensity that I hear from the recordings. If they're nailing their new shit live, I'll be extremely happy. (On another note, I have not heard any negative reviews as far as the live shows as a whole! So that's important, too!)
In closing, the personal thoughts in this piece are my own. I understand and hold no negativity if they are opposed. I am excited for the future in front of these guys. It’s okay if you’re not. I’m not hating. I’ll be on that House of Blues floor in November to enjoy the feelings this band has always given me; and if you’re there, too… Just throw up the horns for me and I’ll throw them back!
Until next time!