As I Lay Dying, along with Killswitch Engage and Unearth, have been at the forefront of metalcore for the last five years. But according to frontman Tim Lambesis, the band's forthcoming LP An Ocean Between Us was largely influenced by what he perceives is the deterioration of the genre.
Before they began writing material for the disc late last year, the San Diego metallers "spent some time listening to our last album [2005's Shadows Are Security] and, just from being on tour, we became a little bit jaded by how the genre — as a whole — has sort of copied itself over and over again," he explained. "We decided we wanted to be more diverse, even down to the point where we sort of felt like we should really focus on writing songs in different categories, and then pick the best songs from those categories and use them for the record."
Produced by Killswitch guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz (Every Time I Die, All That Remains), the album — which hits stores August 21 and features backing vocals from members of Destroy the Runner — will include a dozen tracks, including "Separation," "Within Destruction" and the likely first single, "Nothing Left." Lambesis said listeners will find that each song differs from the next, with some cuts bordering on chaotic and foreboding, others more driven by melody, and a couple that are just straight-up, balls-to-the-wall thrashy.
"On the tempo side of things, we wanted the record to be pretty fast as a whole, so we wrote some real thrash-influenced songs," he said. "We even wrote songs that have a more emotional depth to them — songs that aren't just pound-your-face-in all the time."
Most metal acts pride themselves on releasing consistently heavier records, and An Ocean Between Us is indeed the heaviest As I Lay Dying LP to date. But what makes Lambesis proud of the album is that he thinks it's the band's most memorable one to date. "It's definitely our fastest record," he added.
Lambesis said it was important for As I Lay Dying to work with Dutkiewicz on An Ocean Between Us because "it was good to have that outside perspective." The band had finished pre-production on the record well before Dutkiewicz journeyed out to California, to the singer's home studio.
"We really went out of our way to have the record completely recorded and done before Adam even got here, so when he did, it would be the right time for that fresh perspective," Lambesis said. "He has great ears, and even if he ended up going with one of the original ideas we had from pre-production, it was confirming that it was his set of ears that gave it the thumbs up."
Lyrically, Lambesis said the album deals with the idea that "we no longer have the same dreams as the rest of the world, that all of the qualities of life that it seems we're taught we should focus on, whether it be money or a certain type of education or a certain type of job — the dreams that are handed down to us — it's about how we have nothing in common with those dreams anymore. It's about the whole idea of fulfillment — if you do these things and take these steps, you will be happy — and how really, wealth, the prestige of being in a band, all that stuff is ultimately meaningless."
But putting that message to disc wasn't all that easy, Lambesis admits. He said the band "had all the bad luck in the world" while making the effort.
"When we were recording drums, the computer crashed," he said. "When we started guitars, we had some bad cabling, so the first few days of guitars, we had distorted lines. And then we had a bad batch of strings, where every string in the entire box was buzzing on the frets.
"Then one day, I just woke up and came downstairs, and inside the vocal booth, there were just flies all over the wall — maybe 30, 45," he continued. "And there are no windows in my vocal booth, so I couldn't figure out how they got in there. It was pretty surreal going in there. That confirmed for us that we had the ultimate bad luck during this record. It seems the better something is, the more opposition there is towards it."
As I Lay Dying plan to spend all of August on the road as part of this summer's Warped Tour. A headlining tour is in the works for late October.
The rest of the week's metal news:
The Emperor reunion may be over at the end of the month, but the band's frontman, Ihsahn, will continue to push musical boundaries with his other projects. His latest is Hardingrock, a collaboration with Star of Ash (ex-Peccatum member Heidi S. Tveitan, a.k.a. Ihriel) and Norwegian folk artist Knut Buen. The band's debut, Grimen, will be released in Europe on June 11 on Nyrenning Forlag (no U.S. date has been scheduled). The album features folk songs played on Norway's national instrument, the harding fiddle, with lyrics and melodies based on Norwegian mythology. The music will also feature strong doses of heavy metal and classical-inspired electronica. "Even though the elements the three of us brought to the table were very contrasting, I think we're all very pleased with how it came together," Ihsahn said. "The material provided to us by Knut is a huge part of Norway's cultural treasure, and I think the album definitely is a worthy development that rocks." Sample the group's eccentric tunes on its MySpace page. ...
High on Fire will tour the Midwest after they finish their current studio session in Seattle with producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden). Dates start July 20 in Teton Village, Wyoming, and run through July 31 in Denver. The band's yet-untitled new album is tentatively scheduled for release in early fall. ... Obituary have finished tracking their seventh album, Xecutioner's Return, and are now preparing to mix and master the effort. Because of their expediency, the release date for the disc has been pushed forward to August 28 from its earlier-announced date of September 11. The legendary Florida death-metal band will launch a full U.S. tour in early September. ...
Samael will release their seventh studio album, Solar Soul, July 17. According to the band's label, the album marks a return to the type of sweeping post-industrial black metal of the Swiss group's 1996 record, Passage. ... Genghis Tron will play three dates with the Red Chord, Through the Eyes of the Dead and All Shall Perish Friday (June 1) through Sunday, and a pair of shows with Pig Destroyer and Car Bomb on June 15-16. Then the avant-garde rock extremists will team up with Ed Gein and Gaza for an East Coast tour that runs from July 17 in Poughkeepsie, New York, through July 29 in Midland, Michigan. The Philadelphia band is currently working on songs for its next disc, the follow-up to 2006's Dead Mountain Mouth. "We're building a bold, psychedelic bridge to GodCity [Recording] Studio, where we'll be recording our next album in August with [Converge guitarist] Kurt Ballou," Genghis Tron said in a statement. "Thanks to some serious unemployment, we've been fully immersed in erecting said bridge — working eight hours or more a day, seven days a week on new material. It's sounding insane and awesome and entirely indescribable. We're stoked." ...
Swedish doom-death band Katatonia will headline their first U.S. tour starting September 4 in West Springfield, Virginia, and ending September 26 in Houston. Scar Symmetry, Insomnium and Swallow the Sun will open all shows. Katatonia's new live CD/DVD package, Live Consternation, comes out Tuesday. ... It took combing through more than 2,000 applications, but Finnish symphonic-metal band Nightwish have finally found a singer to replace Tarja Turunen, who was asked to leave the band in October 2005. Swedish chanteuse Anette Olzon, formerly of the band Alyson Avenue, is currently working with Nightwish in the studio on the follow-up to 2004's Once. "She's already so much more than we were ever expecting to get," said the band in a statement. "Long live new Nightwish. The new album will be a monster." The yet-untitled disc is scheduled for a fall release. ... The new record by Swedish doom legends Candlemass, King of the Grey Islands, will be unearthed June 22. The disc marks the debut of the band's new singer, Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus), who replaced Messiah Marcolin after his departure in April 2006. ...
Polish death/black-metal band Behemoth have posted the new track "Prometherion" on Ozzfest.com. The song comes from the band's upcoming disc, The Apostasy, which comes out July 17. Between dates on Ozzfest this summer, Behemoth will play one-off shows with Lamb of God, Hatebreed and 3 Inches of Blood. ... Swedish death-metal band Zonaria will release their debut album, Infamy and the Breed, September 4. The album was recorded by Per Nilsson and mixed and mastered by his Scar Symmetry bandmate Jonas Kjellgren at Black Lounge Studios in Gälve, Sweden. Tracks include "Infamy," "The Last Endeavor," "Pandemic Assault" and "Descend Into Chaos," which is available on the band's MySpace page. "We encourage everyone to give us feedback and to let us know what they think of the new song," guitarist Emil Nyström said in a statement. "We can assure each and every one of you that the wait will be well worth it and 'Descend Into Chaos' is just a small taste of the full on assault that is Infamy and the Breed."