Saturday, January 13, 2007

Album Review: Arsis - “United In Regret”

Melodic death metal is a hard genre to touch. As the popularity has grown, so to has the over saturation, and amount of mediocre rip-offs, clone bands, and of course we can’t forget what happened with melodic metalcore. The problem with so many melodic death metal bands has gotten to a point where extremely good local bands have surfaced playing melodic death metal that could’ve gotten signed to make middle-of-road, or half decent, or essentially mediocre albums. Will Swedish bands such as At The Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity cease to be plagiarised?

Ever since their debut album, “A Celebration Of Guilt” in 2003, American band Arsis has been hailed as a saviour to the genre of melodic death metal. A hint of technical flare with often so many guitar runs, and slightly gloomier take on melodies as opposed to some of the almost sugary sweet melodies and harmonies of bands past. Not only those factors, but Arsis does something that so many American bands do that we often overlook: they made it heavier. The drumwork featured in Arsis is often a constant pummelling, with a preference for the often used “Smith blast”, the drum beat made famous by Suffocation. But that description only describes the debut album and EP “A Diamond For Disease” from Arsis. Even while standing head and shoulders above their peers with a signature sound, the band has still matured and progressed.

There aren’t a lot of bands who succeed at actually making their music heavier. Many view lightening up their sound as the only possible way to progress, whilst many other bands attempt to become heavier usually just results in better production or simply faster drums. The heavier attempt from Arsis was to go sideways and experiment with dissonant tones.

Perhaps we can benefit from the lessons taught to us by Arsis. Success in music isn’t so often just copying someone and hoping it goes off like a hit, instead a willingness to tour often and with diverse bands while putting effort into staying ahead of the generic pack creatively can pay off (and it usually works).

Arsis At MySpace
Arsis At Willowtip Records


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