Review Summary: Definitely not your deathcore cliché, don't let the band name or their looks fool you
• Pros: Creative musicianship, the experiments and ideas scattered across the album are amazingly astounding nearly every time
• Cons: Far too many chugging parts and breakdowns, the Chelsea Grin-esque screeches could get on the nerves of some listeners
"Your love is a fallacy You can't get the best of me and you don't want to be a big disappointment" , screams lead vocalist and Craig Mabbitt look-alike, Orion Stephens on the opening cut for his band's self-titled release. And although his looks aren't the only thing in-common with Mabbitt, the fact that he possesses a voice that alters between that of an angel and demon is simply blissful.
This is In Dying Arms, a 5-piece hailing from Baltimore. While featuring a driving a force stronger than most other acts in metalcore, the band promptly shifts between melodic and heavy riffs with plenty of unvisited ideas of the genre in-between, keeping the tracks fresh throughout. The album begins with "Murder I Wrote", and instead of going forth with a long chugging intro, the group throws the listeners into a barrage of thrash & blast-beats with enough tremolo guitar work to avoid being out-of-place. Almost three minutes through the song, it becomes apparent that the band keeps things going by the addition of some clean vocals and slow tempo, which surprisingly, actually works and goes about nicely.
This lick is then followed by "May I Have This Dance", which (the title alone) is pretty reminiscent of some Rise Records-based metalcore acts such as Miss May I. The band does not let down, however, as they continue with punishing death metal chords, before letting the music become uplifted again by metalcore melodies and harmonizing singing.
By the time it gets to "Losing My Grip", you start to see the album's first small flaw is that these two tracks sort of blend into each other. While this song alone has a heavier second verse or so, they both kind of go about with the formula (if not tempo, if you will) leaving them somewhat interchangeable on the first listen through. But while on the topic of flaws, let me just get past that the only problems I personally had with the record is, while I could very well be considered a fan of metalcore, let me put it that I favor its general sound over breakdowns and chugging riffs. This album has a fairly large amount of chugging parts that could have been undone with some more Swedish melodeath or thrash influence (at least that's what I suggest). Is it wrong to expect technical riffs out of metalcore bands? I think not. In many instances of bands of the genre since the popular rise of Killswitch Engage, or As I Lay Dying has shown a handful of young musicians incorporate solos or new ideas into the mix of the once/twice breakdown per song.
While In Dying Arms surely gets the deed of creativity done with more than enough ideas, tricks and experiments, they fall a tad short in terms of technicality, where I feel chugging parts could be replaced with more technical guitar work. The band, however, surely doesn't fail to impress really fan of metalcore or deathcore. Hell, even the screeched vocals come off a bit in the likes of Chelsea Grin or the now-defunct Underneath the Gun (although ironically enough the band is signed to Matchless Records, which is operated and owned by former Chelsea Grin guitarist, Chris Kilbourne). While the band clearly demonstrates enough potential and talent to not be forgotten in the underground deathcore phenomenon of the 2000s (enough memorable parts alone reside in "Famous Last Words"), they are still a young band going uphill from here on out.
Overall: the album is definitely worth the listen, even if you're not the biggest fan of metalcore or deathcore, I'm sure even melodic death metal enthusiasts could find some parts on this record for them. In Dying Arms certainly has enough energy to deliver blast beats and screeched vocals for metalcore kids seeking something new for their music libraries, but hopefully they'll get out some more technicality by their full-length.