May 1, 2008

Test Spin: Arsis

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Arsis have been the darlings of the brutal death metal underground since their dazzling 2004 debut, A Celebration of Guilt, which proved that Americans can incorporate beautiful melodies into a raging tornado of tremolo guitar riffs and blast beats even better than European contemporaries.
Now Arsis has returned for their third album, We are the Nightmare, with a brand new lineup. After the disappointment of the last album, United in Regret, founding member Jim Malone decided to start writing catchy melodies again — Nightmare is definitely a heavy album, but when it’s not busy reaching in and tearing the listener’s spine out of his or her nose, the tear-dropping sense of melody from Celebration returns.
Sure, the new drummer’s start-stop style is choppy, and the production lacks fortitude; any more random sweep picking and I’d want the guitarists’ fingers amputated. But, overall, the album works. Arsis is heading in the right direction again. Want proof? Listen to “Sightless Wisdom” and “Servants to the Night.”