As They Burn- Will, Love, Life

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, February 16, 2013

France’s As They Burn released their debut full length Aeon’s War back in 2011 via Siege of Amida Records, but for their sophomore effort Will, Love, Life the band has moved over to Victory Records. While I missed out on their debut, the lineup seems to be the same with the one change being that the group added a keyboardist to their ranks. There’s definitely some of the established tricks of the metalcore/deathcore playbook being utilized throughout this album, but this band does seem to genuinely try and shake things up from song to song and that makes a pretty big difference.

The base that As They Burn has built their material on will instantly sound familiar to listeners, as the group tends to use the familiar chugging riffs that have come to define both metalcore and deathcore over the years. But rather than simply establishing this heavy tonality and then beating it to death like so many others, the instrumentalists have chosen to jump off from these heavier sections into melodic passages that up the atmosphere and integrate different stylistic elements. I suspect that the addition of a keyboardist prior to the recording of this album played a significant role in this type of sound, but it works to the band’s favor as when they can truly capitalize on the melodic elements their songs have stronger hooks and stink the listener in. Admittedly it takes a couple of tracks into the album before this really starts to happen, as it seems as though As They Burn focused on putting their heaviest hitting numbers at the beginning before starting to branch out a bit more. But despite the fact that there are still a few too many sections where they return to the tried and true sound, the moments where the instrumentals do attempt to head into mellower territory are strong enough to make this effort worth paying attention to.

While there is a decent amount of variation to the vocals on Will, Love, Life the primary style is a harsh growl that is well suited to the heavier instrumentals. The growls tend to dominate the material and are able to offer quite a bit of intensity, but the band doesn’t stop at this point and instead dives into pseudo-screaming and some cleaner pitches. I wasn’t quite as crazy about the pseudo-screams where the vocals start in a harsh pitch and end in a cleaner tone as it sounded a bit forced and took away more than it added, but the sections where clean singing was used worked better and had a bit more energy to them. This may just be my particular tastes, but I would rather see the group stick to clean and harsh tones without doing these in between styles.

After the first song or two I was expecting As They Burn to be just another run of the mill metalcore band that attempted to be as heavy as possible without offering much variation. But the band ended up surprising me and they seem to be at a turning point in their career. Will, Love, Life is better than you might expect and has some truly standout moments but it doesn’t completely capitalize on the melodic aspects, instead heading back into familiar chugging territory a bit too frequently. If the group can truly take the next step forward I think they could truly become a powerhouse in the genre next time around but they’re still worth checking out in the meantime.

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