To date, 2006 has been quite a good year for metal. There have been plenty of top notch albums from bands like Into Eternity, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, and Blind Guardian, to name a few. But there have also been quality releases that, perhaps not the pick of the litter, are still worthwhile. Falconer's Northwind, Hammerfall's Threshold, Unearth's III: In the Eyes of Fire, and In Flames' Come Clarity could all fit under that header. As I said, good, quality stuff and one of my favourite years in, well, years. And what better way to add to the festivities then with another Arsis album. For those of you who do not know, Arsis is a melodic death metal band hailing from Virginia, USA. To date, they've released two albums, including 2006's United in Regret, and one EP. And despite only have three releases, the duo might be one of America's best metal bands in quite a long time. That's pretty prestigious title. Or maybe not depending on how you look at it. But there isn't a word of lie when I make sentiments like this. Arsis is simply that good.
So what makes Arsis so good, you ask? Well, starting with the actual music might be a good idea. As I already mentioned, Arsis plays melodic death metal. And you couldn't find a label more fitting for the band's music, for it contains uncontested amounts of melody to go along with the brutal riffs that accompany the death metal aspect of the genre. But United in Regret is so much more. In its technical fury, the album still manages to incorporate heart and soul into its formula. The song Lust Before the Maggots Conquest is an excellent example of this combination. Particularly the chorus, which is an excellent example of why Arsis is one of the best bands to pop out in the last few years, has James Malone screaming "Falling forever when bonds start to sever / I know I'll hope and pray / The promise of never was my oath forever / I know I hope and pray you've had your fill of lust before the maggots conquest!", while shredding through an impressive and infectious lead. Yes, James may not be the poet of the century, but his efforts in moments such as these are not only extremely memorable and inspired, but also a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. Another track worthy of the name Arsis would be the album's title track, United in Regret. A song that represents the themes of the album, it succeeds in creating a dark, violent atmosphere brimming with steady riffage, chaotic soloing, and tortured screams. When throughout the madness that is United in Regret, each portion of the music remains thorough and easy to recognize. In addition, Arsis does not lengthen their music beyond an appropriate length for the sake of having a long song. Each song is concise and well thought out, never feeling too short, yet at never too long at the same time. The music on Arsis' second album is definitely the highlight, and is very, very impressive.
If you've been reading carefully, you'd know that I mentioned that Arsis is a duo. Yes that's right; one of America's best new acts consists of but two people. And those two people are James Malone, who handles vocal, guitar, and bass duties, as well as Mike van Dyne on drums. Arsis is not the first band, nor is it the last band to go about with a two member line-up, but the level of competence that Arsis shows is astonishing considering their lack of members. Particularly impressive is James Malone. I have already gone into detail to describe the music, which consists of well played riffs and bridges, but also Malone's incredibly awe-inspiring lead work, which includes melodic harmonies and technical soloing. But as I just mentioned, Malone also performs on the bass and behind the mic. Now, the bass is barely audible, and as a result, is quite difficult to listen to. But the vocals on the other hand, are very enjoyable. James' growls might not be the most pleasing thing to listen to, but they certainly get the job done. Check out again, The Lust Before the Maggots Conquest for an outstanding performance on Malone's behalf, as do the likes of I Speak Through the Shadows and Oh the Humanity. James' efforts fit the extreme style of music very well, and are very important in the band's delivery. But James Malone's partner in crime, Mike van Dyne is no slouch either. His thunderous drumming is another important aspect of United in Regret. Similarly to the riffs, they are extremely chaotic by nature and like the vocals they fit the music very well. Mike provides a suitable heartbeat and backbone to each track, an element that United in Regret showcases exceedingly well. As astonishing as it as, Arsis is only lead by two members, but it hardly makes a difference, as the material that James and Mike create is some of the best in the genre.
Though perhaps not the most hyped release of the year, Arsis' United in Regret is definitely one of the best albums to be released in 2006. Containing a steady stream of melodic death metal, the album never fails to disappoint, nor does it fail to impress. Though only 36 minutes in length, United in Regret never fails in delivering the finest of the metal genre. Brutal yet melodic; chaotic yet smooth; inspiring yet ominous; technical, yet catchy; Arsis manages to balance the extremes of both spectrums on a level of competence that not only exceeds what is expected of melodic death metal bands, but creates its own unique playing field. Arsis' United in Regret is quite easily a top 3 metal album of the year, and is an essential album to all fans of metal. Do not hesitate in picking this up.
Lust Before the Maggots Conquest
Oh the Humanity
The Cold Resistance
The Marriage Bed
This album is jaw-dropping. I cannot get enough of it. This review is great. I would have liked if you talked a BIT more about songs individually, but either way, it's great and gets my vote. This is easily one of the best albums of the year.
Definately not a perfect album or a 5. For someone who's just learning to love Arsis (like me), I didn't find very much to love on this album. For me, melody always comes before technicality, and these guys sacrificed one in favor of the other. And I didn't like that.
Isn't Arsis 4 members now? Whatever the case, still a great review.
I think i'm going to have to disagree with the statement that the band has burned melody for the sake of technicallity. If you listen, there is a lot of melody on this record, its just not always in the main riff. Its true, the technical aspect has been emphasized more, like on Lust where they sound a bit like Necrophagist, but the harmonies and solos always bring the song back to melody, often stunningly so when it's not expected. This is more a record for appreciating music as opposed to being catchy. That doesn't mean that it lacks melody however. Not their best, but its still a great album.
I was afraid of this. =/ It seems like most people here are jumping on the Arsis bandwagon and eating up the new stuff simply because it's Arsis and not looking at the bigger picture.
This album is a major step back from their last two. They sacrificed a hell of a lot of melody and went for sheer technicality on this one. The last thing we need is another lame ass Necrophagist-copying tech metal band of pure wankery, and I'm sorry to say, they gravitated more towards that end of the spectrum on this album. It's still pretty good and still has a lot of substance, but while their past albums I could never get enough of, I grew pretty tired of this one in about a week. Lust Before the Maggots Conquest is by far the worst songs Arsis has ever done.
It has always seemed to me that people around here are too flippant with giving away 5's and this is a prime example. I don't see how this is in anyway a classic. You've always been pretty conservative with your perfect ratings, but I can't help but wonder why the hell this of all the albums you could've picked from. While the music is fun for a while I can't get over how Jim went towards flashy (often annoying) lead guitar overdubs from awesome riff/solo combos.
I guess the hype on this forum over this band has really gotten to me.This Message Edited On 11.07.06
I knew that was coming. Perhaps I was a little over-enthusiastic with the rating, but I stand by it. There's always the chance that I'll grow tired of it in the future too, but right now I just can't get enough of it.
I still think Lust Before the Maggots Conquest kicks though.This Message Edited On 11.07.06
I know the feeling, I'm often over-enthusiastic with ratings at first. How long have you had the album so far? I absolutely loved it first, but it was only in the past few days that I realized how disappointed I've become with it in the long run. It didn't have the lasting value their past stuff did, with the catchiness blending awesome technicality with incredible composition skills. Maybe I was expecting too much, but after ADFD I was expecting a serious masterpiece.