For the past month, melodic metalcore titans As I Lay Dying have been on the road, co-headling with fellow metal powerhouse The Devil Wears Prada. One of the most recent stops of the tour landed the bands smack dab in the middle of Long Island at The Paramount in Huntington, New York.
Having seen both bands most recently at the 2012 edition of the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, I had at least some idea of what I was getting myself into. However, with Mayhem being a large festival, the two bands only garnered a lukewarm reception, likely because fans were more looking forward to seeing metal gods Motörhead and Slayer later in the day. Yet this night was devoted to more intimacy with AILD and TDWP, and the reactions they gained proved it.
Openers for the tour consist of mathcore technicians The Chariot, and christian metalcore band For Today. Honestly, I was not expecting to be as blown away by The Chariot as I was, but WOW what a performance. From guitarist Stephen Harrison jumping into the crowd and playing an entire song, guitar in hand in the mosh pit, to vocalist Josh Scogin swinging and whipping his microphone all over the stage, The Chariot blew up the stage for the short set they had.
For Today, however, was just not my cup of tea. There were plenty of fans who enjoyed the performance, so that’s not to say that my thoughts of it were the same as others there.
Being a co-headlining tour, it can only be assumed that the main headliner switches nightly, depending on various factors. This night would be finished by The Devil Wears Prada, leaving As I Lay Dying as the first headliner up.
As the lights dimmed, an eerie introduction played, echoing with organ wails and hollow drum beats. Slowly, the band arrived to the stage, with front man Tim Lambesis going to a riser at the center of the stage. Beginning with a loud, piercing scream, they broke into one of their newer songs, Cauterize. While a dark green glow filled the stage, constant strobe lights brought the only bit of brightness on the it.
Fans started to pour over the guardrails as the band broke into one of their older songs, fan favorite Forever. Red light took over the stage, while Tim Lambesis shifted over all over the place, leaning himself on the stage edge to grab and shake the hands of fans pressed up against the guardrail.
After pushing through Confined and A Greater Foundation, out came 94 Hours, another old and beloved fan favorite tune that caused the Paramount to rumble and shake with an instant eruption of three simultaneous moshpits. No one on the floor was safe as nearly 80% of the metal fans rocked and pushed in to each other.
Towards the middle of the set, the band cooled down a bit, and Tim took the chance to address the crowd, making mention of how the band was in New York a few months ago (December 9th 2012 at The Best Buy Theater in NYC) and they were requested to add some older songs to the setlist. Breaking into Forsaken, the crowd cheerfully sung along with bassist/clean vocalist Josh Gilbert during the song’s choruses.
With the crowd still energized, another new song was on the horizon, with Wasted Words up next. Trying to get everyone energized for the newer tune, Tim shouted, “I need everyone to get into the middle of the floor and make one big circle pit!” With a slightly lengthened snare intro from drummer Jordan Mancino, much of the crowd assembled into the center, and once Tim gave the “here we go!” the crowd, filled with both male and female participants, spun furiously, only slowing down during the song’s breakdowns.
After The Sound of Truth, the band left the stage briefly, before returning for two final songs, beginning with Nothing Left. Prior to the last song, Tim gave one final word saying, “It’s great to see so much energy last an entire night! This one goes out to all of you and its called Through Struggle!.”
For As I Lay Dying, the fans will always seem to devour and dig the older songs. Personally, I more enjoyed hearing and seeing the newer songs from the band’s latest album Awakened. The newer songs have far more sophisticated guitar work, and the points where the spotlight would hit guitarist Nick Hipa as he broke into a furious solo, I felt as if I was right there on the stage with him. Overall, it was a great mix of new and old, and a solid performance all around.
As the stage was shifted to a new layout, the light turned a dark, menacing red, which would cover the stage for nearly the remainder of the night. The Devil Wears Prada took to the stage, firing straight in to their song, Mammoth. Front man Mike Hranica scurried across the stage constantly, bellowing deep into his microphone with his banshee-like wails and screams.
While there are the occasional back-up/clean vocals from guitarist Jeremy DePoyster, TDWP has a very heavy and chaotic overall sound. They filled their setlist with a mixed selection, however ignoring their earlier albums, choosing selections from With Roots Above and Branches Below, Dead Throne, and their Zombie EP.
Perhaps it was the sound, but I found Jeremy, and certainly Mike, very difficult to hear most of the time. Drowned behind the wall of sounds erupting from the other band members, the energy from the band was very clearly there, but I feel as if sound, which was of no issue for As I Lay Dying, was somewhat of a problem for The Devil Wears Prada.
Issues aside, it was a great night for metal in New York. I felt As I Lay Dying was the strongest band of the night, firing on all cylinders and with well-balanced sound and light. If you’re a fan of metalcore, this is not a tour to be missed.