As you’ve probably heard, All Shall Perish’s new album, Awaken the Dreamers, is slower and less brutal than its predecessors, Hate.Malice.Revenge and The Price of Existence – but it’s less brutal the way getting punched in the face is ultimately somewhat preferable to getting kicked in the nuts. This album is still heavy enough to make the listener feel like Billy Milano is sitting on his lap, and to bitch about its lack of br00tality is to be too close-minded for one’s own good.

‘Cause there’s a lot of awesome shit on Awaken the Dreamers, a lot of creative shit, and creativity is what always made this band great (Think quick – can you name any other deathcore bands that incorporated the use of cowbells? Thought not.).

The members of All Shall Perish were always terrific rock songwriters who understood the importance of a hook as the cornerstone of any great traditionalist song, no matter what the genre – and Dreamers has hooks in spades. Ultimately, I don’t think songs like “When Life Meant More…”, “Stabbing to Purge Dissimulation,” and “Gagged, Bound, Shelved and Forgotten” are good as the band’s best material for past albums – but they’re still damn fine songs, and their shortcomings have nothing to with their not being “hard enough” so much as they’re just plain old not as good as some other ASP tracks.

But producer Zack Ohren is still underrated, and he layers the music here in a way I’ve never heard him done before – but it works, and makes the proceedings deeply atmospheric. And all of the shredding and technical shit that has made past ASP efforts so potent is still abundant; if anything, guitarists Chris Storey and Ben Orum seem more focused than ever, and their dual shredding rivals the very best in metal today (The instrumental “From So Far Away” is a real showcase for these dudes’ talents.).

And as for vocalist Hernan Hernida… well, I just think this dude is awesome. I don’t give a fuck that he doesn’t do any pig squeals on this album, or that he lets entire songs (or at least semi-songs) go by without screaming once – when he pulls a Halford-worthy eunuch shriek during “Black Gold Reign,” I feel compelled to shout out “FUCK YEAH!” every time. Every. Fucking. Time.

If you wanna make a complaint about Awaken the Dreamers, complain that it’s way too short – of the twelve songs on the album, two (“The Ones We Left Behind” and “Misery’s Introduction”) are “interludes” that are just barely over a minute long, and semi-ballad “Memories of a Glass Sanctuary” and “Far Away” ultimately don’t feel much more substantial, even if they have longer running times. And although all of these tracks are pretty decent, they also never feel like real (or perhaps I should say “full”) songs – maybe because they’re more ambient than structured. That may be why Dreamers ultimately plays more like an EP than a full-length, and as a fan who’s been waiting pretty patiently for this album, that feels like kind of a gyp. It may seem like an odd comparison to make, but it’s the same problem Tool’s 10,000 Days had – too much filler, not enough music.

At the end of the day, I do think that Dreamers is inferior to The Price of Existence, which I consider pretty much a masterpiece of its time and genre. Of course, not everyone can follow-up one really mind-fuckingly awesome album with another brain-rapingly awesome album. So All Shall Perish will just have to settle for being really fucking good.

(three and a half out of five horns)


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