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Arsis We Are The Nightmare

Arsis - We Are The Nightmare
01. We Are the Nightmare
02. Shattering the Spell
03. Sightless Wisdom
04. Servants to the Night
05. Failing Winds of Hopeless Greed
06. Overthrown
07. Progressive Entrapment
08. Fest for the Liar's Tongue
09. My Oath to Madness
10. Failure's Conquest
2008 Nuclear Blast Records

Reviewed by: Daniel Letchinger   //   Published: 5/28/2008

Since 2004, Arsis have consistently generated a lot of buzz among critics for their spirited, so-called technical approach to melodic death metal. Never one to shy away from hyperbole, Revolver Magazine was quick to bestow upon Arsis' impressive debut release, A Celebration of Guilt, the rather celebratory (and in my opinion, somewhat misguided) honor of "best [album] in the genre since At The Gates' legendary swan song ['Slaughter of The Soul']." For their second full-length, United in Regret, Arsis set out to place a higher emphasis on technical complexity and song structure, ultimately releasing what was by many accounts a rather dull and uninspiring disappointment given the wealth of praise heaped on their debut. Produced by Zeuss and released by Nuclear Blast, 2008's We Are The Nightmare is a concise, layered, exceptionally complex and thoroughly entertaining return to form, a veritable showcase of Arsis' ability to seamlessly fuse a number of different genres of metal without coming off as a gaudy, schizophrenic mishmash of disparate riffage.

As the band has weathered some pretty serious line-up changes since recording United in Regret, so too has their sound and style changed from the riff-heavy compositions of A Celebration of Guilt, to songs laden with flourishing, über-technical lead passages more akin to Necrophagist or Spawn of Possession. "Shattering the Spell" best exemplifies this emphasis on sheer technicality, with its creative use of sliding licks before delving into a frenzy of blast beats and harmonized sweep arpeggios with an At The Gates-inspired melodic break thrown in for good measure. Throughout "We Are The Nightmare," frontman and lead guitarist James Malone mystifies the listener with his best Yngwie impression, injecting each song with solos that straddle a fine line between self-indulgent wankery and jaw-dropping neo-classical guitar wizardry. Although they feature prominently in each song, they never seem forced or out of place. Moreover, Malone's solos are very inspiring in their flair for the extravagant, invoking a sort of triumphant affirmation of the dynamic potential of melody that would be more at home on, say, a Satch album. Whether or not this is a good thing, I leave up to the listener.

Perhaps the most noticeable change in sound belongs to the rhythm section, with ex-Goratory drummer Darren Cesca replacing founding member Michael VanDyne. Whereas VanDyne was far more straightforward in maintaining a punishingly heavy groove vis-à-vis thunderous double bass and aggressive blasting, Cesca brings to the table a sort of energetic willingness to indulge in anything that would be considered technical at the obvious expense of the groove. Don't get me wrong, Cesca's drumming is sickeningly complex, combining the usual tricks of the trade with a keen understanding of rhythm and timing. However, at times, the end result becomes a meticulous exercise in the superfluous, as his drumming descends into a scattered whirlwind of jarring drum fills and awkward time signatures (Cesca uses four different snare drums, two of which sound like bongos or Neil Peart's high-pitched rototoms, imbuing some of his blasts with a "Xanadu-esque" quality that is, understandably, very strange and out of place on an Arsis record). Finally, Zeuss has placed both the drums and guitars at the front of the mix, which, given the unabashed technicality of the two, results in what is essentially a pissing match over complexity in musicianship.

Ultimately, We Are The Nightmare is Arsis at the top of their form: a finely-tuned shred machine, whose music reflects both an imaginative approach to song-writing and a seriousness about the medium in which they so effortlessly continue to redefine. Zeuss' recording perfectly captures the depth and subtleties of the many intersecting lines of melody; riffs weave in and out with a grace and fluidity uncommon to such intense music. From the anthemic power metal chorus of "Servants to the Night" to the unsettling, black metal outro of "Sightless Wisdom," to the piercing thrash of "A Feast for the Liar's Tongue" (which features some impressive soloing over some absolutely pummeling Behemoth-esque riffage), there is something admirable in the way Arsis is able to render the intricacies of so many different genres into a seamless, catchy, and richly interesting gem of melodic death metal.

Bottom Line: From start to finish, "We Are The Nightmare" is a furious and searing display of technical death metal virtuosity, one tempered by sumptuous melodies that would make even the most gnarly and battle-worn Hessians throw their horns in the air. In "We Are The Nightmare," Arsis have crafted a triumphant follow-up to 2006's United in Regret, clearly displaying a willingness to progress beyond the boundaries set by the melodic death metal genre.

niggaaaa_   posted 6/12/2008 4:11:21 PM
Highbeamreview.com gave this A good review too, I'm gonna have to pick this CD up! http://www.highbeamreview.com/review.php?id=97
yomama_   posted 6/8/2008 8:25:34 PM
great band. great album. ive had this album for about 6 months now. the internet is great.
8 of 10. great guitar work. catchy but not mainstream.
niledestroyer _   posted 6/8/2008 2:51:23 PM
shit band not givinva crap about shit bands like this

nu-metal kiddoes GROW UP
phobophile_   posted 6/7/2008 2:04:10 PM
Greatest metal band of our generation.
shredfuckin_   posted 6/4/2008 5:45:50 PM
i heard this singer sucks dck. like for real

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