Those Who Lie Beneath - An Awakening
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: October 13, 2009
As they say, you should never judge a book by its cover. However, more often than not, our assumptions hold true. One glance at Those Who Lie Beneath's cover to their debut full length, An Awakening, tells you all you would need to know about the content that can be found inside: It's heavy, it's violent, it's brutal. And this is exactly what is to be found.
An Awakening begins with "Awaken" which does a fairly decent job at setting the stage for what's to come(that being endless riffing, relentless double bass, and so on). By the time "8 To 5" commences, the record falls into sort of a lull so to speak. There is very little separating the next few songs leaving the record a bit stale up to this point. None of this helped by vocalist Jamie Hanks' monotonous screams. For most of the record, his screams are the standard death metal growl. It isn't until "Building And Breaking Bridges" that there is more variety in terms of the screams. Alongside his growls are hardcore screams that make their first appearance on the record in this song. There's also a breakdown thrown into the mix to keep things fresh. This is the point in the record where the lull present in the first half begins to subside.
On the surface, An Awakening offers a decent listen to any fan of the genre, but the cliches certainly stack up, mostly deriving from the lyrics. There's no reason to hold a death metal band to a high standard when it comes to lyrics. They won't be of any artistic value and they certainly won't be about rainbows and kittens. However, the over the top violent imagery present in songs like "Through His Eyes" and "A Great Farmland Romance" are questionable at best. Sure it's done for the shock value, but it comes across as a tad bit generic and predictable, ultimately doing little to help separate Those Who Lie Beneath from their peers.
Despite these flaws, the music itself is quite intriguing. Drummer Devon Berliner keeps a frantic pace throughout the record and blasts in every once and awhile with relentless force. The band's two guitarists, Taylor Danley and Kyle Rasmussen, do their fair share of riffing all throughout An Awakening. Their shinning moment comes on "As The Vultures Circle" where they get to show off their technical side as well as their, dare I say, melodic side. All of these elements come together on the closer "Still Breathing", an eight minute instrumental track that shows what the band is capable of when they tone things down and let their strengths shine.
In a genre that severely lacks innovation of any kind, Those Who Lie Beneath try their best to surface and provide a breath of fresh air. While they are not quite there at this stage in their career, there is promise for the future. With the right progression on their next effort, no longer will they be the ones who lie beneath.