Review Summary: Take Technical Death Metal, mix in a little Buckethead, strip away all interesting elements, and what you're left with is Keith Merrow.
Ah, Keith Merrow. A studio musician, Keith apparently gained a bit of a name on YouTube posting videos of his original works, completely engineered and recorded by himself. Most of these videos, of course, don't feature a montage of Keith creating the songs however. Nope, they're playthroughs with Keith pressing play on his mac and going to town on his 7 and 8 string guitars. Sound familiar, anyone? (Tosin Abasi and Tre Watson, I'm looking at you.)
The project seemed to pick up steam when Keith was complimented on his videos, prompting him to take the collection of the lot and turn them into his first EP, Lonestar Transcend. The same year, Keith created an album from start to finish. That album is The Arrival.
Unfortunately, it's kind of a mess.
One of the problems that seems to plague most bedroom producers is working on a full piece of music by yourself and compiling all of it. Granted, the direction all coming from one mind may help a bit, but some of the soul that comes from working with a group seems to disappear. With the tools on the market today such as Drumkit from Hell, anyone with enough time and enough skill can easily play around and engineer a complex drum beat that would slaughter most talented drummers in the industry.
And that's just what Keith Merrow does. Some of the drumming on this album is so incredibly outlandish and obviously engineered, it strips away any semblance of soul the album may have had ("Abducted," "Bioluminescent"). Missing that foundational element, the album continues to fall short and further into the ground. Obviously, with any instrumental album, a degree of virtuosity is anticipated from the artist, and on some tracks, it's apparent that Keith's got the skills to pay the bills. "Io" and "Nadir" both feature sections that show that Keith knows how to deliver a great melodic solo. But most of the album is chock full of endless down-tuned chugging, spare for haphazard full rests that Merrow seems to enjoy tossing around.
At times, this is accompanied by odd electronic noises ala Buckethead or Coheed and Cambria, but these electronic disturbances feel out of place at any point other than the beginning or end of a Merrow track, making the album feel all the more convoluted. Add in the way the album seems to drag without end, and you've got a regular recipe for disaster.
Don't get me wrong - it's obvious that Keith Merrow is a talented guy, and sometimes the downtuned chugs create a good groove. But aside from that, the product he puts out just doesn't deliver anything worthwhile or new and stagnates very quickly. The album feels more like someone trying to flaunt technicality without being able to back it up with any sort of emotion ala Brain Drill than it does a comparable project like Necrophagists Onset of Putrefaction.
If you just like moshing around aimlessly to soulless tech death/djent, this is your album. If you want something with passion and inspiration to it, look somewhere else.