Released: 2008, Nuclear Blast Records
Virginia’s Arsis has been kicking around the metal underground for a while now (formed in 2000), and have released a couple of respected death metal albums (particularly A CELEBRATION OF GUILT). However, their latest effort, WE ARE THE NIGHTMARE has definitely garnered the band the largest share of attention of their career thus far. Although I haven’t heard the band’s first two albums, it seems that main man James Malone (Guitars, Vocals) has moved the band away from their more traditional death roots. This has divided the fan base – when this album was initially released in April of this year, reviews were mostly positive, but the naysayers have made themselves heard as well. What does all this mean? Dunno, but I was certainly curious to see what the band had cooked up.
From the opening assault of the title track, it’s clear that Arsis is no standard death metal band. If they used to be, it’s clear that they’ve evolved into a more technical beast than perhaps they once were. The disc is awash in widdly arpeggios and time shifts showing off the skill of the band, but with a decided blackened thrash injection that ensures the music never loses its killer instinct. Needless to say, the musicianship is top-notch. Malone’s vocals are a standard shredded caw, nothing special, but it’s refreshing that you can tell what he’s howling on about.
For some, WE ARE THE NIGHTMARE probably contains too much melody, as well as outside influences. Seriously, with only a slight tweak, “Failing Winds of Hopeless Greed” could be an Into Eternity song with its catchy guitar hooks. Not that I mind – Into Eternity are a fantastic band.
Without hearing Arsis’ past work, I listened to this album with an open ear, and despite the bitching of some fans, it’s obvious that this is an accomplished, mature work of extreme metal. Enjoyable from beginning to end, WE ARE THE NIGHTMARE is a triumph and I will be very interested to hear where Arsis goes from here.