Released: 2008, Another Sphere Records
The French band In Arkadia describe themselves as “melodic thrash death metal”, which is a bit of a mouthful. They should have just gone for “melodic death” and stopped beating around the bush. It’s not a sin to do melodic death, if you do it well…
Once upon a time, all the “Treble” knobs on all the mixing boards in France were broken. At the same time, all the “Bass” knobs on all the mixing boards in France went all the way to 19. The riffing, on the whole, is that annoying stop-start style beloved by American metalcore artistes, that says nothing, goes nowhere and leaves no impression. I see this particularly on “Pre-emptive Sidiate” and “Useless” which, at the risk of scoring cheap points, is useless. The guitars are either down-tuned or so bass-heavy that they just smack into your eardrums with a dull flat thud, again expressing nothing musically. It reverberates, vibrates loosely and doesn’t cut through; the cliché of “razor sharp riff” is certainly not going to be used here. A riff mess/mass/molass.
The funny thing is that they mix this up with some genuinely good melodic riffs that actually have a point to them. At certain parts of certain songs, you suddenly wake up from the torpor and go, waitagoddamnminute, there might be something there. And I have to say, they know how to break up the monotony of a song: throw in a lead break there, or a harmonised bit here, which actually saves the whole album. BLIND OPPRESSION has its moments, and while not being patronising, there’s some good ideas from such a young band, especially when you focus on their leads and melodies. But damn, up those treble levels, cut down the bass, and focus on the riff!
I hear a lot of Children of Bodom and 3 Inches of Blood here, without much of the self-obsessed guitar wankery (which I have to confess I do love), but there’s also a lot of the ARE YOU DEAD YET riffing I’ve already mentioned. Also they have the whole twin vocals thing going – thankfully, mercifully, praise be to the heavens above and the hells below, that they don’t do the pussy vocals.
Best songs? I have to say anything but the first two, “Useless” and “Pre-emptive Sidiate”, and “Suck and Fuck” – all the rest of the songs have some redeeming feature to them. “Cell of Madness” and the album-closer “Obso(u)lescence” are particularly good, they’re the few that stick in my mind. They have to make the riff count, not just that dum-dum-de-dum-dum-de-pinch harmonic stuff. “Ego Alter” is the paradigm example of what I’m talking. There’s a nice simple clean intro that generates some interest in where the song is going. There’s a little harmonised lead intro, going in, atmosphere building nicely. Then as the heavy guitars come in, there’s a nice semi-thrashy riff going, which last for a few bars. But then there’s that damn stop-start thing going again, alternating with the vocals. Then there’s a quite imaginative chorus that is really good, and a great midpaced lead break. More of that silly riffing, but then they end with a repeat of the intro, which ties everything up really well. Y’know?
It’s slightly frustrating, cos I think this band have some really cool ideas. I have to say they have to exercise some restraint in the mixing process as well. Bass is good, in tolerable quantities. You don’t want it to drown everything. The lead guitar sounds generally weak, and the pinch harmonics sound truly awful, they lack any power. You want it to scream, wail and yell “look at me motherfuckers” when you’re doing a pinch harmonic. Look, I care enough about this band to write such a long review, and I think they have it in them to go somewhere. It’s frustrating.