As I Lay Dying pushes the edge of metalcore

By Mike Tofin

Among the guttural vocals, ambient melodies, and hints of grindcore, it’s difficult to pin-point exactly where As I Lay Dying find their inspiration.

A long list of influences has enabled the band to avoid the criticisms leveled at others that belong to the metalcore subgenre. Their creative process has also played a role.

“Most of us don’t really listen to much metal in the technical genre that we play in,” says Gilbert. “I think what happens is that if all we listen to Killswitch Engage and All That Remains all day our record would probably come out having that influence, but I think what it comes down to is that most of the dudes in the band listen to such a variety of music that the material that we have for the album is a little more fresh than somebody that is looking at their contemporaries for inspiration.”

Though this is a great approach for a band that occupies a somewhat fringe genre, Gilbert took it one step further when discussing his own beliefs.

“There is nobody that I respect as a musician that says that they only listen to metal, or that they only do this, or do that. If you’re a music fan and the music is done well, it doesn’t matter what genre it is, its still done well,” says Gilbert. “We might not realize that a certain part was influenced by a pop song or another part was influenced by a black metal song, but I think that’s what keeps it fresh.”

The band’s approach also extends into their visuals. They are very hands-on with the process.

“The artist that did our artwork, Jacob Bannon, the vocalist from Converge, actually takes a picture of a real human skull and goes into Photoshop or in Illustrator and collaborates with us in terms of what colors and other images we want,” says Gilbert.

The images also underline the band’s message — their refusal of traditional means of cultural objection. This is apparent on the band’s latest album, The Powerless Rise.

“One of the things we wanted on the album was an upside down crown, because throughout history, something turned upside down is kind of negative,” explains Gilbert, comparing the crown to an upside down cross or flag. “We decided to put an upside down crown because that is a good symbol of power.”

Although the upside down crown isn’t immediately apparent on the album’s cover, Gilbert insists fans should take a closer look. Given the band’s thoughtful approach to metalcore, this look shouldn’t be restricted to just their album art.

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