Arsonists Get All the Girls
Portals


3.0
good

Review

by Meatplow USER (111 Reviews)
July 14th, 2009 | 51 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Experimental deathcore that just isn't that experimental....

Portals is the third LP from Santa Cruz act Arsonists Get All the Girls. Tagged as "experimental deathcore", the group has built up a following with previous albums Hits from the Bow and The Game of Life, facing the death of bassist Patrick Mason in 2007 and the departure of previous vocalist Cameron Reed due to spiritual reasons along the way. Portals is the first album with new vocalist Jared Monnette, of which the band had to say "He is definitely the new voice of AGATG and is a perfect match for the direction we were going musically. We headed back into the studio to lay down the new vocal tracks, and it went wonderfully!".

The group is know for its use of keyboards and synthesizers on their albums, a homage to the 8-bit sounds of "nintendocore" legends Horse the Band whom the group admired and wanted to initially sound like. Full of distorted, chugging riffs and melodic guitar playing, Portals is also characterised by its warbling electronic effects, unusual structures and the screaming vocals of Jared Monnette, who does a pretty good job. Unfortunately, Portal is also characterised by something else: it feels rather sloppy and inconsistent which is unfortunate, because where it works the group does seem to have something to offer at times.

Just about every track on Portals falls into a similar sounding mush, some death metal influence here, some grindcore there, electronic effects, screaming, all in all the sum of its parts aren't worth tearing apart. After the spacy opener of Interdimensionary by the time the group kicks into "metal" mode in second track The 42nd Ego the album doesn't let up in pace. My Cups Half Empty, Skiff For The Suits, In The Empyreans, Saturnine, these all sound virtually the same and for the most part it is a reasonably good formula. If there is anything to flaw the band just doesn't feel tight enough at times, with a loose, playful feel to arrangements that breaks out into an occasional "dance" side to the drumming of Garin Rosen which can feel at odds with technical riffing. This is mostly all well and good, but it isn't until I Lost My Loss Of Ruin that the group starts showing much more promise, after an initial blast of noise around the minute mark managing to turn into a convincing ska track that later unfolds into a repetitive piano led lounge/jazz section. This works quite well, with following track To Playact In Static doing something similar closing as a bluesy, bar number. Arsonists Get All The Girls certainly does good here. The album ends with another unremarkable track in Tea Time Ribbons and a long stretch of silence that reveals a hidden country-esque number, which isn't really worth sticking around for.

The good thing about Portals is that it works at times, a much worse album could have resulted from an "experimental deathcore" group then this. The bad thing about it is that it just isn't that great overall, Arsonists Get All The Girls showing only hints of promise here and there but never managing to focus it into anything truly great. It feels loose in structure, the more technical side of the album as a result sounding forced and sloppy. Portal is remarkably average metal for a group that explains themselves in terms of having an experimental nature, but not always downright terrible.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bleekill
July 14th 2009


832 Comments


Nice review, won't be checking this out though. Never really been a fan and it doesn't sound like anything special from the review.

asdemonsburn
July 14th 2009


793 Comments


Good review plow

I still can't get over how awful the cover art is

Willie
Moderator
July 14th 2009


16049 Comments


Deathcore is shit and it's clear that this album is no different. Good review.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Wizard
July 14th 2009


19501 Comments


Experimental deathcore that just isn't that experimental....

So this is just shitty deathcore? I'll pass. Review feels like a 2-2.5. Excellent review still.



Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

TricksterGRex
July 14th 2009


2087 Comments


No Karl this is AWESOME deathcore.

Wizard
July 14th 2009


19501 Comments


AWESOME deathcore.

That's an oxymoron. If I have nothing to do with my time, I will put myself up to the challenge.

TricksterGRex
July 14th 2009


2087 Comments


No it sux I was being facetious.

Wizard
July 14th 2009


19501 Comments


You scared me there.

Phantom
July 14th 2009


8930 Comments


Good review. The few songs I heard by this band on their myspace made me never want to hear them again; non-progressive average deathcore.

jrowa001
July 14th 2009


8750 Comments


album def isnt a 3. its pretty awful

Meatplow
July 15th 2009


5524 Comments


Yeah, i'm unfamiliar with this genre as a whole and I can't see myself digging it much, so I was trying to be charitable. I'm guessing there are hundreds of bands that sound like this.

TrojanWhore
July 15th 2009


752 Comments


Some deathcore bands are amazing...just depends on whether you're an elitist prick on this site or not as to whether you accept that or not.

Bleed From Within, old Through the Eyes of the Dead, Animosity, some Despised Icon - good deathcore. It's just some deathcore bands give the genre a bad name...Annotations of An Autopsy (they do write some good songs but as a whole they do give the impression that deathcore is rather abysmal) and old Bring Me the Horizon = poor deathcore. Nevermind...

accompliceofmydeath
July 15th 2009


4253 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I agree that this wasn't very experimental but, I thought it was a little different and good nonetheless.

Digging: New Found Glory - Resurrection

Meatplow
July 15th 2009


5524 Comments


I'm no elitist as such, I did genuinely like this in parts.

I got the sense listening to this though that there would be bands that do this sort of thing better, even if I haven't looked into the genre enough to fully know that. If I had listened to other deathcore previously, I may well have found this redundant but I tried to look at it on its own merits, as it is it stands as a just above average release to me.

It's more the incorporation of other genres towards the later half that I liked the most, if these parts weren't present this would probably be more a 2.5.

I agree that this wasn't very experimental but, I thought it was a little different and good nonetheless.


It's probably more of a case of "experimental for the genre", I suppose. I don't know how many deathcore bands play around with synthesisers, but it didn't feel like there were any particularly innovative timbres being explored I haven't heard elsewhere in electronic based music.

I would check out WHOURKR's NaƤt (I reviewed this a while back) for an album that does experimental metal using electronics and noise loops that isn't quite deathcore but seems similar to what this is trying to achieve in a way I would find convincing.

iamSeraph
July 15th 2009


865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

listening to it at the moment.
skiff for the suits is currently my favourite song. the ending is much like their best song ever "Claiming Middle Age A Decade Early".

and the new vocalist is SICK and quite better than the old.

what i'm lacking is catchiness, tbh. many songs sound a bit constructed and can't breathe.
i'm going on with listening .)

TrojanWhore
July 16th 2009


752 Comments


I dig this quite a bit actually.

And Meatplow, I wasn't calling you elitist, I know you're a sound guy from all those forum posts from where I used to converse with you as AFragileHope.

Meatplow
July 16th 2009


5524 Comments


Oh I understood that perfectly, I wasn't offended or anything just running off some thoughts :]

xMaLigNancy
July 29th 2009


6 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good Review, there are some really cool sounding parts in this album but overall its average. New vocals are disappointing. Best song is Violence in fluid.

botb
August 11th 2009


9718 Comments


the guitars aren't high enough in the mix on this. =/

trilogique
August 15th 2009


246 Comments


I just keep lowering my score. From 4 to 3.5 now to 3. This album is decenttttt.



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