Release DetailsLABEL Willowtip
RELEASED ON 11/7/2006
United In Regret
posted on 11/2006 By:
When Arsis released A Celebration of Guilt in 2004, I bit so hard I nearly shattered every tooth in my mouth and liquefied my gums. With melodeath a long dead horse still receiving fresh boots about the nose and groin by hordes of cut-rate Gothenberg never-weres, it was exhilarating to hear a band with such a blistering and forward reaching approach on the style. But with time and repeated listens, Arsis slowly began to fall from my better graces. Whether it was my overblown initial reaction, or my opinion that with each listen A Celebration of Guilt reveled itself to be something of a one-trick pony, the fact is I dropped Arsis about as quickly as I picked them up. Diving back into the Arsis catalog, a bit more carefully than before, I hear a more streamlined, focused, and powerful heavy metal band that has sacrificed some of their breakneck speed and showmanship in favor of more memorable and enduring songs.
The first two tracks on United in Regret stand in stark contrast to a majority of the material found on ACoG, and offer two separate glimpses into the band’s new direction. Opener, “Oh, the Humanity” is as heavy as anything as the band as ever written, but far simpler. Gone is the fret scouring attack of a song like the arpeggio stacked “Face of My Innocence,” and in its place is a more methodical builder that unveils itself in a series of less complex, but more complimentary and distinct riffs. Track two is the slothlike by Arsis standards, “...And the Blind One Came”, which slowly gathers momentum and heft before unleashing a bizarre, and recognizably Arsis-styled series of riffs. This track may have a hard time winning over those still salivating over the band’s typically frantic onslaught, but it’s an impressive example of carefully paced and meticulously composed heavy metal.
While the first two tracks offer an interesting “test of method” for their new direction, they smartly save their hardest hitting and well rounded compositions for the fat part of the album. “United in Regret”, while opening in somewhat pedestrian fashion, shows clever restraint as the drums and guitar work together to foreshadow a galloping conclusion that starts at the three-minute mark, and brings the title track of this album to a mammoth crescendo. While one of the shortest songs on United in Regret, it has a grandiose and epic feel that sounds carried over from last year’s A Diamond for Disease EP. “I Speak Through Shadows” enhances itself with foreboding harmonized chord riffing that has become a distinct part of guitarist James Malone's arsenal before making way for some slow handed traditional heavy metal soloing. “Lust Before the Maggots Conquest” rounds out the mid-album trifecta, and offers the kind of maniacal riff display that had been toned out throughout the rest of the album. “Lust,” however is still tempered by the band’s newfound tact, and ends up having more replay value than any other song on the album.
The album finishes in strong fashion, with the Sound of Perseverance flavored "The Cold Resistance," and a magnificent rendition of Depeche Mode’s “The Things You Said.” Each of these songs, while slower, are piled high with riffs and feature some of the strongest and most complimentary drumming on United in Regret. These tracks also offer a welcome breather from the punishing series of tunes that preceded them, and allow the listener to rest up for the amphetamine fed closer, “Hopeless Truth.” This kind of dynamic approach that affects not only the band’s songwriting, but also their approach to album writing, is what makes United in Regret such a pleasure, and what invites so many repeated listens.
With every album they release Arsis seems to come one step closer to fulfilling everything I look for in a heavy metal band. While Death slightly stumbled in their latter day attempts to fuse technical death metal with traditional heavy metal, Arsis have confidently made the transition, and became stronger songwriters in the process. While this is a far from a perfect album (let’s get a heftier bottom end guy, bass is a good thing) it is one of those rare release that contains a near mass appeal without sacrificing either integrity or craftsmanship. Ultimately, this is the album that deserves the hype I first threw at A Celebration of Guilt two years ago.
posted on 11/2006 By:
Arsis took the underground metal community by the balls with their extremely accomplished 2004 release, A Celebration of Guilt, receiving the highest of praise from several metal outlets, including top honors as Album of the Year here at MetalReview.com. When given that much glorification for recording and releasing such a compelling and important album – many have called it one of the best written albums in the last several years – how is a band supposed to come back down from such a delightful high and eventually try to match it? They certainly did a solid enough job by hinting at future brilliance with the strong title track from their A Diamond for Disease EP, but I think the question as to whether or not they could achieve such greatness on their follow up full length release still remained unanswered. Admittedly I didn’t have as big of a hard on for the two releases as most everyone else, so that makes it easier for me to claim that Arsis have gone above and beyond both previously released offerings with United in Regret.
The songwriting tandem of James Malone (guitars, vocals) and Michael Van Dyne (drums) resides up there with some of the giants in today's world of metal composers. The album blasts off with an unmerciful set of technical death riffs that show that not an ounce of energy or craftsmanship has been lost since we last heard from the group. Those who were blown away by …Guilt and its chaotic and furious nature from front to back may be a little dismayed with the band’s decision to shy away from the mayhem in certain parts of these new songs by way of some slower, more melodic riffs, especially during the lead breaks. But I think those parts add a certain aspect of maturation to the overall songwriting and in the end take them to another level in that facet of their game. The solos on …Guilt were blazing and that still holds true on …Regret, but with the almost simplistic approach that some of the riffs take on here it gives the solos more room to shine and as a result they come across so much brighter. Malone has hands down become one of the masters at writing two different guitar parts that, as singular as they are, mesh together with pristine and immaculate precision. His use of both staccato picked runs and fluid legato licks simply amaze me, while his lead work is arguably some of the best to be heard this year. Van Dyne’s performance is simply ablaze with cunning chops as he’ll go from a solid thrash beat one moment to a half-time beat bringing out some groove within the riffs through the next turn. Then he’ll pummel you with some furious kicks and stunning blasts and throttle you with his ability to rip across the toms with some luminous fills. If either of the two has improved upon their game it is Van Dyne. I thought the drumming was a bit monotonous on …Guilt with the blast beats being somewhat overused, but the performance on this new platter of severed fleshed will be force fed to you with more flavorful radiance and a lot more creativity.
Every originally written song is a keeper, with the blistering "Oh, the Humanity" and the bloodthirsty "Lust Before the Maggots Conquest" being my two current favorites. But that is sure to change with each listen as the album is that damn inviting from start to finish. I say ‘originally written’ because track eight is a remake of Depeche Mode’s "The Things You Said". I haven’t heard the original so I really can’t compare the two, but after finding out it was a cover song it completely explained why it seemed so out of place. With the album coming in at just over 36 minutes I personally would've liked to have seen the cover dropped and be annihilated by a few more new songs. One other minor complaint, and I don’t think I’m alone here, is the issue of bass guitar. It’s there…kind of, but as attentive to perfection and craft that Malone and Van Dyne obviously are, it would simply put this band over the top if they had some fluid bass runs to match their illustrious talent – imagine a Steve DiGiorgio playing along side these guys. With that said, this review may make me out to be the ultimate Arsis fanboy, but that is hardly the case. I thought …Guilt was a pretty damn good full length debut, and …Disease was the perfect teaser to keep me interested in the band’s future. Well folks, the future that is United in Regret is here and worth your immediate attention, your ever so precious time, and your hard earned cash.
posted on 11/2006 By:
It’s been two years since Arsis devastated the American underground with the phenomenal A Celebration of Guilt, and one year since they released the immense epic “A Diamond for Disease”. Fans have been feverishly awaiting the sophomore LP, and that day has finally arrived. A quick description for the unaware – think of highly technical and rapid-fire melodic death metal.
James and Michael have progressed their formidable sound, and moved in a direction that was foreshadowed by “A Diamond for Disease”. Instead of coming at you with lightning-speed virtuosity at every turn, they’ve worked in some slower melodic moments, along with slower, chunkier moments. But don’t run away crying yet, the vast majority of the album is instrumental wizardry. James packs more notes into riffs and solos than almost anyone else out there, while Michael’s drumming is pummeling and precise, completely driving the mood of the song. The vocal approach is just as they’ve been doing since the demo, a raspy scream that honestly reminds me of Angela Gossow.
Songs like “Lust before the Maggots Conquest” and “I Speak Through Shadows” make it obvious that James plays with four hands. Also interesting to note is how the rhythm guitar (or at least the backing guitar) will be playing the more complex riff, which only adds to the energy of a song and allows the listener to dig up something new with each listen. “The Cold Resistance” showcases a thrashy influence, then going epic on a solo. All is not perfect on United in Regret, as there are some instances of overreach. On “The Things You Said”, which is already a big change of pace in terms of speed and mood, James’ harsh vocals are everywhere. Sometimes you just need to jam. They get it right on barnburners like “Oh, the Humanity” and “Hopeless Truth”.
With Arsis staying busy on the road, their fan base should begin to approach their promise, if there is any justice in the metal world. United in Regret did not convince me on first listen, although that was remedied after another spin or two. Perhaps I’d be blown away if this was my first experience with Arsis, but I came in expecting excellence. That is what we have here, although a miniscule notch lower than the brilliance found on their prior releases, which means that this is certainly a Top Ten contender. If you love technical metal, buy this album, preferably at an Arsis concert.
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Starve For The Devil
We Are The Nightmare
A Diamond For Disease
A Celebration of Guilt