Arsis
United in Regret


2.0
poor

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
January 17th, 2007 | 52 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Uninspired bouts of flashy technicality mixed with a totally bland and repetitive sound. Boooooring.

I've been sitting here for the last 15 minutes just pondering. I've been wondering what people see in Arsis. I've been wondering what people see in this album.

But most of all, I've been thinking of ways to make fun of this disc. Then I realized I should just tell the truth. Rather than digging for cheap pot-shots, half-witted similes and strikingly obvious allegory, I should just say what's going on. I'm not going to go overboard to impress, that's Arsis' job.

So let's get cracking. The album is United in Regret. Prepare yourselves for disappointment.

------------------------------------

It's technical, it's melodic. Yes, Arsis' second full length sure seems to be pinned down by an onslaught of generic buzzwords. But there's one or two I'm seeing left out: bland and repetitive. If you hadn't caught on yet, I think this record is brutally mediocre and criminally overrated, regardless of whether it's widely acknowledged as a let down or not. Surely I must be wrong, I mean, we have two 4.5 reviews for this album, count them if you don't believe me. But I guess that's the beauty of opinions, everybody has them but they ultimately suck when they differ from mine.

But I think I'm getting ahead of myself, digging a grave I may not deserve to rest in. So let's start from the beginning.

Arsis, at the time of this album's release, was a two piece American Death Metal band. To be more specific, they're often credited as "Melodic Death Metal", though on occasion, people feel the need to toss the word "technical" into the mix. Started by James Malone and Michael Van Dyne, Arsis seemed to have it all literally from the start. A Celebration of Guilt, their debut album, instantly pushed the band to the top of the Death Metal world. It was pretty fast, it was flashy, dense and, according to the fanatics, outstanding. I personally thought it was alright, but apparently that was just me. Regardless of whether I bought into the hype-machine or not, I still definitely saw something. Sure, the production irked me and James Malone's guitar/vocal layering definitely seemed a little overly ambitious, but I could at least see why people were digging this as heavily as they were.

And then I saw a ray of sunshine, in the form of a 3 song EP which went by the title of "A Diamond For Disease". This is where things get a little tricky.

A Diamond For Disease really did it for me. Though it contained only three tracks, one of which being a cover, something about the EP clicked with me, and when I say something, I mean the title track. A Diamond For Disease was a 13 minute track that basically did what was expected; starting off with an array of guitar noodling and basically keeping it up for the remainder of the song. The main difference is that while it was most definitely a standard Arsis song, I didn't see it that way. It was, more or less, a 13 minute guitar solo. It was just as layered and dense as previous Arsis work, but never did it bother me. Sure, the vocals were still pretty horrible, but I didn't care; hearing "let's make a deal, a diamond for disease" got me every time. It's actually one of my favourite Death Metal tracks.

So naturally, I started to get a little more excited about this band. Maybe I could finally buy into these guys a little more, I mean, it was definitely nice to see an American Death Metal band that didn't fill their songs with 2 minute break downs and pig-squeals.

Then came United in Regret.

To be blunt, United in Regret is pretty bad. I mean, the cover art was really, really cool, if it was a t-shirt and totally unrelated to Arsis, I'd probably buy it. But this isn't fashion, and that ain't my passion. United in Regret basically took everything the band accomplished with A Diamond For Disease and slammed it to the ground. There was no progress whatsoever. Sure, there was some flashier guitar work and the drummer seemed to constantly be one-upping the guitarist, but it was pretty unnecessary. The flashy instrument work did nothing for the music. Sure, it garnered the totally unearned "technical" label, but that's about it. If you're wondering what I mean by that, I mean that a band is not technical simply because they're flashy. They're flashy because they're flashy.

But I'm getting off track now aren't I?

The band's new-found love for masturbation quantified just how disposable they really were. Sure, on occasion the extra dose of shred is welcomed with open arms, but for the majority of the album the guitar work and overly fast drumming does nothing but take away from the melodies and overall sound, and this is Melodic Death Metal, after all. This is exemplified in Lust Before the Maggots Conquest, which honestly sounds like a rejected Slipknot album title. Lust Before the Maggots Conquest starts off sounding like a poor man's Gorod (who are also on Willowtip). The song just continues on, never really getting anywhere; awkward bouts of dissonance flop around sweep arpeggios and James Malone's typically atrocious vocal work. The guitar leads go on for way too long, and this is made obvious two minutes in where Malone basically repeats himself for a good 30 seconds, giving the impression that he was writing it on the fly and trying to stall. It was when I heard this that I started to actually hope for a generic-core breakdown.

And while we're on the topic of Lust Before the Maggots Conquest, it's the fifth track on this 9 song album. It took me three tries before I could get 5 tracks in on one sitting. It's not because the album is particularly bad, because it's not. It's just really boring and really repetitive. Arsis basically took all the best parts from their last two releases and put them on repeat for about half an hour. Sure they threw in some minor variations, but this is nothing new. The production is still terrible, too. If you're not familiar with the group's production style, let me elaborate. Take a pinch of your typical Death Metal sound; now add in a ton of distortion to give the illusion of a low-end, because even though Malone is credited as playing bass on the album, you'll have a helluva time trying to hear it. Then take one completely mediocre singer whose voice is a mix between a generic blackened scowl and a completely uninteresting death growl, and layer it twice over. Then repeat the layering technique with the guitars. Sure it's not as ridiculous as their debut, which saw as many as 6 guitar parts overlapping, but it's also not as tasteful as A Diamond For Disease, which saw the same amount gelling beautifully. The drums sound alright, I guess. The kick drum isn't too clicky, and the snare has a nice tone, but some of the cymbals have a really odd resonating crash to them. Plus a lot of the drumming seems a little "just because"; the drummer feels the need to show off for no particular reason at seemingly random points.

I mean, Arsis is a moderately talented band. They can surely play their instruments; the problem is they're way too aware of it. The songs on this album aren't really that bad. I mean sure I would have chosen melody over technicality but, if you take the tracks as individual tracks, it's a decent outing. The problem is this is a 9 song album, and I take it as such. The songs rarely separate themselves; not only from the others on the album, but from the rest of the band's material in general. I guess the biggest fault with this album is it feels like a major step down from their EP. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not a good thing.

So maybe I'll get some flak. Maybe I just 'don't get it'. Whatever. The point is I don't think I want to get it. This album is totally bland and completely average. But the cover would make for a pretty sweet poster.



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user ratings (288)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Kit Brown (4)
Arsis comes back with yet another incredibly strong album, taking their technicality to new heights....

Mike Stagno EMERITUS (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
January 17th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

This was definitely necessary. This album was a pain to get through, so I hope that's reflected in the review.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2007


2690 Comments


The way you were hyping this review, I thought you were going to rate it lower than average.
Very well-written, though.

The band's new-found love for masturbation quantified just how disposable they really were.

Hahaha. Nice.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 17th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Well, if you take it bit by bit, it is average I might drop it down to a 2, though, this was a generous 2.5This Message Edited On 01.17.07

Apocalyptic Raids
January 17th 2007


810 Comments


I've heard two tracks from this album, and they were enough to convince me it wasn't worth my time.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 17th 2007


2713 Comments


They're flashy because their flashy.

Thats the only thing wrong with the review.
Basically, it's terrific.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 18th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

OOPS. Let me fix. How embarrassing.

Eakflanderyof
January 18th 2007


2143 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is a really good review. Reviews this long usually don't hold my interest, but this one did.

I still think that it's a good album.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 18th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I haven't written a long-ish one in a while, so I figured I was due.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 18th 2007


2713 Comments


OOPS. Let me fix. How embarrassing.

Like, no need for sarcasm.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 18th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I actually was embarrassed, haha. I take "they're/their/there" very srsly.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 18th 2007


2713 Comments


Oh ok

Mikesn
Emeritus
January 18th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The band's new-found love for masturbation
:lol:

Nice review.

MetalReggie
January 18th 2007


21 Comments


Great review. Might still check out a couple of songs but wont dive headlong into buying the cd.

The Door Mouse
January 18th 2007


2092 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice review. I usually hate Death Metal. Maybe It'll grow on me but I doubt it.

Thor
January 18th 2007


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

...yet you listed Dream Theater's Scenes From A Memory at a 4.5. If that album isn't technical for being technical I don't know what is.

The Door Mouse
January 18th 2007


2092 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Are you talking to me or Cocaine?

Thor
January 18th 2007


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cocaine. I'm biased as hell, though...so this argument will probably go nowhere.

Excellent review nonetheless.

Born2Lose
January 18th 2007


25 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That was a great review, although i have to disagree with you about it being not that great. Because i absolutely loved it.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 18th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Scenes From a Memory also isn't a melodic death metal album. This is supposed to be a balance between melody and technicality; firstly, there's little technicality to be found. As I said, a little guitar noodling doesn't make your music complicated. But nonetheless, they do throw in random bouts of technicality for seemingly no reason.

The main difference is on that Dream Theater album it's never overbearing, it never out-weighs the songs. They'll maybe have a song in an odd time signature, and then they'll throw out a solo at the end. These guys will have a pretty simplistic song that they'll totally ruin with immature attempts at showing off.

Hopefully that makes sense, I just woke up.This Message Edited On 01.18.07

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2007


17944 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This album sucks. Spot-on review.



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