After 30 reviews and an average rating of 4 1/2 stars, that alone should tell you this album is worth checking out. I consider myself a lifelong metal connoisseur dating back the the early 80’s so I think I’m as qualified as anyone to speak about quality metal albums. I don’t claim to be THE authority on metal by any means, but I’ve been around long enough to have a historical perspective on what good metal and bad metal is. Younger generations, through no fault of their own simply do not have the benefit of hindsight when it comes to rating new material. They often don’t know a recycled or ripped off product when they hear it because they aren’t old enough. It doesn’t make their opinion less valid mind you, just less informed.
That said, there are a lot of metal bands out there to sift through from all sorts of sub-genres and styles. So many sound the same and so much of the music is utterly forgettable. Rare is a band that stands out so clearly that it warrants across the board recommendation regardless of your specific tastes in metal. As I Lay Dying is that band and An Ocean Between Us is that album.
Incredible musicianship, incredible vocal work, pensive lyrics, gargantuan riffs, memorable solos, melodic sensibility (yes, actual melody has been heard in a metal album again!) and impeccable song structure make this album stand at the top of the list of metal releases in 2007. AOBU grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final track ends. Expect to hear much more from As I Lay Dying. I suspect the best of this bunch is yet to come.