Beneath The Encasing Of Ashes

As I Lay Dying

Pluto Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Jason Thornberry


I must be getting old. I'm sure that whenever people hear something that just goes completely over their head they say this, but I mean it in a different way. I got into punk rock music in the eighties, when it still (arguably) existed. From Black Flag, Fear, and The Sex Pistols to Rudimentary Peni, Discharge and far, far, far too many more bands to name I totally immersed myself in it. With "punk" and "hardcore" as a starting point I segued into speed metal, thrash, and grindcore, buying literally everything I could get my hands on that said 'Earache Records' down in the corner. Napalm Death was the end of everything musical, I felt.

I still feel that way. You have Merzbow, Masonna, Cock ESP, Aube and others doing electronic noise, but a guitar/bass/drums/vocals onslaught just doesn't get any more chaotic than 1988's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 From Enslavement to Obliteration by Napalm. It's cute when, say, Melt Banana does their whole post-rockathons (see Scratch or Stitch), but the feeling is nowhere near the same. S.O.B. came close, but they were basically paying tribute to Shane Embury and friends. Fast forward twelve years and Shane is the sole 'classic' member still at it, and the newest Napalm Death album ( Enemy of the Music Business) literally mops the floor with As I Lay Dying.

Now you have an entire sub-genre of bands popping up with their short hair and non-prescription glasses claiming that they're actually "hardcore" groups. Then they all proceed to sound exactly like Slayer circa South of Heaven (1988) without the polka beats, but with the palm-muting fully intact on the guitars. The singing on every song on Beneath The Encasing of Ashes sounds like Phil Vane (Extreme Noise Terror) shrieking at the injustices of modern society. Only Vane's vocals have a lot more variety. Plus there was another "singer" called Dean co-opting the tunes and giving them duet action for some added variety.

Listening to ENT 'back in the day' I used to sometimes almost piss myself laughing at how passionate it all seemed. The other times I was just in awe, flabbergasted. In a good way. This time round I'm simply frustrated. There are big teeth marks all over a musical style that As I Lay Dying probably feel superior to (as they're mimicking parts of it). Nice name too. Just cryptic enough to scare your old fifth grade bully with. Now he'll think you're deranged because you play "hardcore." Oooooh, scary!!

Having said that, I think As I Lay Dying are a decent band with some oddly catchy songwriting (even though the lyrics are cheesy as fuck). Please don't tell people you're hardcore though, guys. Pretty please? Early Circle Jerks. That's hardcore. How about "screamy metal with short hair"? I'll give your album about a C+. I might go higher, but I'm judging the entire package, and the bespectacled nerd frowning at me from the inner tray artwork needs to check himself. And probably clean his bedroom.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Jason Thornberry and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Pluto Records, and is used for informational purposes only.