Metal Blade has gotten this DVD thing down to a science. The last two I've reviewed — THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER's "Majesty" and CANNIBAL CORPSE's "Centuries Of Torment" — have been excellent and now we get another first rate product in "This Is Who We Are", a comprehensive, three-disc set from hugely successful melodic metal bashers AS I LAY DYING. It is also another demonstration of producer/director Denise Korycki's immense talent.
Entitled "From The Beginning", the documentary portion of "This Is Who We Are" provides an in-depth look at the history of AS I LAY DYING told by the group and its extended family. We watch the band grow by leaps and bounds musically, as anchors Tim Lambesis (vocals) and Jordan Mancino (drums) work though numerous lineup changes; the humble beginnings on Pluto Records; the (at the time) surprising signing to Metal Blade; and the tireless roadwork that took the band from church basements to Germany's Wacken Open Air festival. Rather than tales of sex, drugs, and general debauchery, this is a story of a band of intelligent, humble, clean living young men with family support (both biological and record label), a strong, yet never preachy, Christian faith and a staunch dedication to metal. The results speak for themselves, the band having gained an adoring international fan base, worldwide album sales of over 1,000,000 units, and a musical development across "Frail Words Collapse", "Shadows are Security", and "An Ocean Between Us" that is stunning in its consistency and quality.
A total running time of 287 minutes may seem daunting and it may take a few separate sittings to get through, but all of it is worth the time invested. Disc 2 ("Live Progression") features 16 live performances, beginning with "Falling Upon Deaf Ears" and "Forever" at Seacoast Community Church and ending with "Through Struggle" and "Confined" at Wacken Open Air and "Reflection" at With Full Force. Even those that may not consider themselves fans of AS I LAY DYING cannot deny the pure power of the act's live show. Disc 3 contains all the band's videos, as well as bonus features, such as individual portraits of each of the members.
As I stated at the beginning of this review, Metal Blade knows how to make every minute of a DVD count and "This Is Who We Are" is further proof of it. In all honesty, I've not thought much about AS I LAY DYING since the release of "An Ocean Between Us", but "This Is Who We Are" not only renewed my interest in the band again, but gave me a whole new appreciation for these dedicated professionals. If you've any interest at all in AS I LAY DYING, then "This Is Who We Are" is worth far more than the money you'll spend on it. Outstanding!