Arsis - _We Are the Nightmare_
(Nuclear Blast, 2008)
by: Jackie Smit (
Here's my problem with a band like Arsis: on the face of it, they appear to have it made in the shade. You want hyper-technicality to make your eyes water, and your digits curl up in empathetic agony? Check. How about a vocalist who, despite not possessing the most distinctive style, can cut a gravel-throated rug with any of death metal's second tier? James Malone is your man. Perhaps sheet-rock production is your thing. Planet Z's Zuess, who has in the past lent his services to the likes of Hatebreed, Agnostic Front and Municipal Waste, specialises in just that, and leaves each instrument enough breathing room so as to not wither into obscurity in the midst of all the other goings on.Yet stick on this US quartet's Nuclear Blast debut, and what's immediately conspicuous by its absence is any sense of threat, danger or adventure. Sure they seem to have a thorough grasp of melodic death metal's fundamentals, and to their credit they aren't plagiarising _The Jester Race_ to nearly the same extent as some of their peers. But it all sounds awfully ordinary nonetheless. Songs like "Sightless Wisdom" and "My Oath to Madness" would have been almost any metalhead's wet dream fifteen years ago. In the here and now, their efforts appear relegated to capturing only a passing interest.
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