As I Lay Dying - Shadows Are Security - Metal Blade Records 2005
12 Songs
Running Time: 43:28

Well, at long last, here it is. This is the album over which so much hoopla has been made this year that we're currently in danger of a worldwide hoopla shortage. I've never been a fan of the standard paint-by-numbers metal of As I Lay Dying. Something about a band that admittedly hopped into a studio to record their first album a mere month after formation just didn't speak of passion. To me, it screamed "Quick! Let's grab onto the rear bumper of this bandwagon before it passes!". And grab on they have, their major label debut launching the band into a number one Most Downloaded spot on the now-defunct, and garnering the band a legion of fans in the process. And now, with Shadows Are Security, the boys in AILD whip out their instruments to construct the metal equivalent of a third grade Science project. You know, the kind with the volcano that's supposed to erupt, spewing molten ketchup and food colouring on the unsuspecting plastic villagers below? The only problem is that this volcano doesn't just not erupt. Hell, it never even reaches boiling point. AILD charges out of the gates with 'Meaning In Tragedy', closely approximating the fury of a tranquilized ferret. Sure, the meaty guitars are there, and Lambesis' voice is appropriately burly, but simply knowing where to riff and when to growl does not a great band make. Melodic vocals insert themselves into the Killswitch-inspired 'Confined' but come off as derivative at best, the faux-battle metal blasting of 'Losing Sight' also falling flat on its primed-for-the-cover-of-Metal Edge face. Even the Swedish stylings of the intro beginning 'The Darkest Nights' lose their sense of legitimacy when the rest of the song an obvious grab for radio play, background vocals joining Lambesis' potentially aggressive delivery to end up a sad mishmash of nu-death cliches. I'm not sure what gave AILD the inspiration for the solo of 'Empty Hearts', but for a few moments (1:49-2:15), I begin to understand what a sodomized gerbil must sound like. Where certain bands - Slayer most notably, and Fear My Thoughts springing to mind also - can pull of 32nd fret solos and make it sound good, AILD's guitarists seem so unconcerned with memorability that anything will do, so long as it's "fast". It's offensive, to be honest. Even ZAO's Daniel Weyandt can't pull 'Control Is Dead' out of the mire. I could go song by song through the rest of the album, but why bother, really? Suffice it to say that if you liked the past As I Lay Dying releases, you've probably already got this one. If you were undecided before, Shadows Are Security will be sure for make up your mind for you. The problem is, the decision you come to probably isn't the one As I Lay Dying hoped you would.

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