Arsis - United In Regret
Agressive Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (36:28)
Release year: 2006
Arsis, Willowtip
Reviewed by Dylan
Electrifying a genre as overly saturated as melodic death metal, at a time when it is way past its heyday, is no small task for any band to undertake. However Arsis did just that in 2004 with their amazing debut, A Celebration Of Guilt. Mixing some of the best elements of death, black, and thrash, the album was injected with an excellent melodic sensibility that garnered the band a quick amount of attention in the extreme metal underground. Now, their highly anticipated sophomore release is upon us and… well… while their debut was highly regarded as one of the best metal albums of that year (it had some of the top tracks of 2004 in my book), James Malone and friends don’t quite live up to that amazing two year-old record with their newest release, United In Regret. It is still definitely a strong effort but there is just something important missing in it, the same something that made their last one so great.

It all starts out promisingly enough, with Oh, The Humanity mercilessly blasting through your speakers. Malone’s voice has thankfully remained virtually unchanged from its venomous black metal style since the last album, though both the bass guitar and bass drum have received a slight boost in volume thanks to a clean production job. It is also worth mentioning that this song contains an Arsis first: a clean guitar break. It is brief and manages to fit in the song well but it’s still a strange choice, seeing as it is the opening track on an extreme metal record and that the clean guitar never makes another appearance on the album. Each song more or less possesses the same amount of energy as the opener, though subtle differences not found on the previous record are found here throughout, such as the inclusion of a few chugging breakdowns. Not like the hellishly heavy one contained within The Sadistic Motives Behind the Bereavement Letters, but similar to the one within the title track.

Fear not, for these little nuances should not be interpreted as a step towards commercializing the sound of the band, for it appears as if they are actually moving farther from that direction. … And Then The Blind One Came starts out rather slowly, and doesn’t have any face-melting riffs like I had hoped. What it does have is a nice breakdown and the best solo out of the whole album. By the time the title track rolls around to the 0:51 mark, one of the few outstanding riffs makes its appearance.

The problem that you will soon start to notice is that the combination of blazing melodies and intense speed that the band is known for have both been thrown somewhat off-balance. The mind-numbing technicality is still present, but without those powerful melodic riffs, the album loses a lot of the immediate staying power that the debut seemed to be overflowing with. The Marriage Bed serves as a good example of this. When there is a cool melodic hook, it is usually delivered in the form of a slow, simple chord progression over the pummeling rhythm section underneath it, such as the one found in The Cold Resistance and the cover of Depeche Mode’s The Things You Said.

Lust Before The Maggots Conquest has the strongest chorus on the album, and is subsequently the best track. Starting out with one of the most atonal riffs out of any on the album, the song utilizes swept arpeggios, a great solo, and swift breakdowns to become one of the few standouts of an album that just never really seems to stick with the listener.

While the numerous comparisons to the band’s previous album may seem unfair and trite, it is rather inevitable, taking the quality of their former effort into consideration. This is a good, solid release, but none of the songs, save for the opening track and Lust Before The Maggots Conquest, stick with you after the whole experience is over. So, after all of this criticism, is it still worth your purchase? I would have to say yes. Those looking for something similar to their debut will most likely be as disappointed as I was with how this turned out, but nonetheless, this is still a good record. The vocal lines have nice timing, the drumming offers more variety than a constant stream of blastbeats, and the songs are recognizably made by musicians who definitely know how to thrash about on their instruments, and bring forth a hefty amount of aggression. Let us just hope the next release has a better sense of melodic brutality.
Killing Songs :
Oh, The Humanity; United In Regret, Lust Before The Maggots Conquest
Dylan quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Arsis that we have reviewed:
Arsis - Lepers Caress reviewed by Koeppe and quoted no quote
Arsis - Starve For The Devil reviewed by Kyle and quoted 80 / 100
Arsis - We Are The Nightmare reviewed by Ben and quoted 88 / 100
Arsis - A Celebration of Guilt reviewed by Alex and quoted 89 / 100
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