Released: 2006, Willowtip
Arsis have slowly grown to become on of my favourite new bands, their great blend of melodic death metal and technical death metal has created an interesting combination that reminds me of Dark Tranquillity on a Quo Vadis (the Canadian one) binge. It took me a while to warm up to the band’s 2004 debut, A CELEBRATION OF GUILT, but nearly a year later I was appalled at just how good Arsis turned out to be. Then in 2005 when the band released the A DIAMOND FOR DISEASE EP I was again left with my mouth wide open, amazed at how the band pulled off a 13 minute track with little to no lulls or interludes while maintaining their intense style.
So, 2006 came and went and I got myself a shiny new Arsis album entitled UNITED IN REGRET. What did the guitar/drum duo of James Malone and Michael VanDyne come up with for their sophomore release? One monster of an album. The band stepped forward, pushing their technical and more intense death metal side into the spotlight. The melodies still remain, but the band sounds more vicious yet more involved in their musicianship, the music is melodic yet dissonant, aggressive yet beautiful. Somehow the band have come across a slightly more skewed balance, leaning more towards the aggressive tech. side yet still maintain some kind of harmony between either side of their music. This is intense modern melodic death metal with tech death tendencies.
The album opens up with the rousing “Oh, The Humanity”, blasting and aggressive from the get go, James Malone taking his melo death scream to its height. The track even becomes catchy in its chorus, the chanting style making a great sing a long before the song hitting a melodic deepness before, and during, it’s solo. “United in Regret” comes off as a touch more melodic from the beginning, but the band’s penchant for slightly dissonant melodies comes through in spurts, and the band’s aggression, hate, anger, and even angst come through loud and clear. The rather melodic riff that opens up at 0:52 is great and only gets better as double bass lead into a multitude of solos and switching rhythms. The intermittent double bass and breakdown section that comes up shortly after works well, especially initially when the guitars are merely playing a simple melody overtop.
The very Atheist-like melodic tendencies that kick off and repeat throughout as fills in “Lust Before the Maggots Conquest” only further pushes the tech death tag while the simpler blasting and near thrash like sections create a nice diversity, a sense of near familiarity among some slightly off kilter moments strewn about. The way the guitar riffs, drums, and vocals work together in the chorus is great, all following the same rhythm creating a very powerful rhythmic force, while the slower melodic sections played around and through the solo push the dynamics even further. The pace slows immensely in “The Things You Said”, the song working at rather lurching pace. The guitars and bass drums generally working together, while slower chugging and pinch harmonics are prevalent throughout the song. The album is capped off perfectly in “Hopeless Truth”, the song being the perfect mix of melody and aggression, fusing them both together into one impressive track. The track nearly thrashing its way about, the melodic riffs, James Malone’s vocals, and Mike’s impressive and energetic drum performance coming together in perfect harmony.
Arsis aren’t going to let anyone down with UNITED IN REGRET, it’s a great mix of the melodic, aggressive, and technical while having some amazing songs and impressive performances. The album is made up of tons of great moments that are put together into masterful songs that work the band’s dynamics well. A winner, and no wonder it made my best of 2006 list.