Thursday, June 15, 2006

As I Lay Dying - A Long March CD Review

In recent years, mainly in the Victory Records camp, re-issues of early CDs from bands that sell well have become quite the hot trend, and by hot I totally mean pointless and unnecessary. Usually the re-issues are simply re-pressings of an out of print early release from a band that really should have their current releases put out of print. At times, however, there are some well created and well deserved re-issues. This release, as well as the recent re-recorded EP offering from It Dies Today, are two good examples of how to do a re-issue.

Not only is A Long March a re-packaging of As I Lay Dying’s debut full length Beneath the Encasing of Ashes and subsequently released EP (simply titled The EP), it offers up a newly re-recorded versions of their EP from 2002. Truth be told, only two of the re-recorded versions are “new” since “The Beginning”, “The Pain of Separation”, and “Forever” showed up on Frail Words Collapse in 2003, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

What the inclusion of the re-recorded versions of the songs does is give the listener a way of showcasing how the band has grown up and evolved since the original release of the albums collected here. There is a very stark difference in intensity between the originals and the new versions. The newly re-recorded versions are much cleaner and focused, as opposed to the somewhat underdeveloped and “old” feeling you get from the originals, even though they’re only four years old. At the most basic level, you get the As I Lay Dying musical style circa Shadows are Security covering the songs they wrote in their infancy.

Beneath the Encasing of Ashes, which was recorded after the band was together for a scant two months, actually doesn’t come off as rough as you’d believe it would sound. The songs, albeit somewhat standard metalcore for the day, are very quick, brutal, and punchy. There is definitely more of a groove feel to be found on some of these earlier songs as opposed to the band’s later work, but what can you expect when they recorded the effort in five days after only being together two months? You also will not find any melody within the Beneath the Encasing of Ashes tracks. Instead expect nothing but Zao-esque growls and hearty yells.

As far as re-issues go, this is one of the better discs to see the light of day. The booklet gives a little history on the band, some of their thoughts and feelings on certain songs, lyrics, and some great artwork. All in all if you are an As I Lay Dying fan, or even a metalcore appreciator, this is a quality release to pick up, especially since you can use it to see the evolution of one of today’s more popular (and more talented) metalcore bands.

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