Sometimes it amazes me how far Christian music has come. In the early days in the Christian music industry, while artists that played it straight were able to land recording contracts with the major CCM labels, those on the fringes playing less commercially viable music often released records that were plagued by poor production and distribution.
Boy have things changed. Today’s Christian bands that play hard, heavy music have never sounded better. Sure, the lines between genres have been blurred. But for those who prefer the driving sounds of say, metalcore, there exists a wealth of bands and quality recordings. (You sure can’t say that about Christian metal in the ’80s).
And one band that has been doing the genre proud for the past decade is As I Lay Dying, a band with six studio records to prove it. And while I’m no expert, An Ocean Between Us has to be one of the band’s best. Musically, it’s typical metalcore with driving double-kick beats, an abrasive/clean variation of vocals and loads of speedy guitar riffs. There are subtle differences in As I Lay Dying’s sound from earlier work, such as on 2003’s Frail Words Collapse, which yielded such AILD standards as 94 Hours and Forever. It’s good record, but four years later the band sounds even better on An Ocean Between Us.
Take Forsaken, arguably the best song on An Ocean that brings all the best of As I Lay Dying to the forefront. There’s some great harmonies in the chorus, which give the song its memorable hook, all within the context of an abrasive and fast metalcore sound.
At times, As I Lay Dying sounds a lot like August Burns Red, another hard-driving band at the top of the Christian metalcore scene. You can hear that ABR sound in beginning of the title track, An Ocean Between Us, which uses clean vocals in the chorus (which sounds like Haste the Day or The Devil Wears Prada. Take your pick.).
For sure, front man Tim Lambesis has the voice for metalcore, whether his vocals are shouted, screamed or growled. On Comfort Betrays, Lambesis’ voice spits out the lyrics in brutal fashion on a track that is easily the heaviest on the record. I really like the arrangement of This is Who We Are, a song with another superbly constructed and memorable chorus, which moves along at a break-neck pace and finishes with nice, quiet piano.
When it comes to guitar riffs, there is none better than the one on The Sound of Separation, another standout track that rivals Forsaken as the best cut on the record. With 12 tracks, there is a lot of music on An Ocean Between Us, an album of typical but well-made metalcore that rivals the best the genre has to offer.
2. Nothing Left
3. An Ocean Between Us
4. Within Destruction
6. Comfort Betrays
7. I Never Wanted
8. Bury Us All
9. The Sound of Truth
11. Wrath Upon Ourselves
12. This is Who We Are