You’d forgive Austin Dickinson for feeling that, no matter what he did musically, the world was always against him. As if being the son of Iron Maiden’s frontman wasn’t tough enough, his previous band Rise to Remain were on the cusp of something really special when they released the brilliant City of Vultures back in 2011 and then it all went pear-shaped once again, the band calling it a day in 2015. Much like his father, however, Austin is nothing if not tenacious and, along with fellow comrades guitarist Will Homer and bassist Connor O’Keefe (now second guitarist/keyboardist) formed As Lions almost immediately after Rise to Remain bit the dust, with bassist Stefan Whiting and drummer Dave Fee joined the fold. Fast forward eighteen months of teasing and touring and debut album Selfish Age is posied to hit the shelves today via Better Noise Records.
There’s a lot hanging on this record – As Lions have toured with some of the biggest bands in the world over the last two years and now they have to prove they’re not riding the wave of reputation alone. Opening song ‘Aftermath’ is a strong enough start, a soaring chorus and very infectious guitar line with Austin’s vocals complimenting it perfectly; his clean singing has improved tenfold. Following track ‘The Suffering’ continues the trend with its heavier riffs and anthemic chorus whilst ‘Bury My Dead’ will please fans of Bring Me the Horizon no end and gives a rather large nod to Austin, Will and Connor’s former project. The title track also does well to hold its own, although it does end up sounding like the main theme to a WWE pay-per-view. A big shout out to O’Keefe as well whose work on keyboards adds another dimension to the sound and feel of As Lions and ends up being incredibly important. Why?
Because, frustratingly, the second half of the album falls rather flat. There are moments, of course – ‘The Fall’ is the standout with enough bite to take a chunk out of your arm – but the triumvirate of ‘White Flags’, ‘Pieces’ and ‘World on Fire’ passes you by without so much of a growl and ‘One By One’ isn’t much better. You would certainly expect a band with members as experienced as As Lions to have produced something less generic than a fair amount of Selfish Age turns out to be, but they just about pass the test thanks to the bombastic opening. Hopefully the next record will prove more of a game-changer.
Austin Dickinson – vocals
Will Homer – guitar
Connor O’Keefe – guitar/keyboards
Stefan Whiting – bass
Dave Fee – drums
Bury My Dead
World on Fire
One By One
The Great Escape