I hold a love/hate relationship with Technical Death Metal. Similar to the feelings I have towards Progressive Metal, I feel that too many bands get involved too heavily into the technicality or complexity of the music and forget that, yes, they still have to write a song. ARSIS has always been one of my favorites because even at their most technical it seems as though the goal of songwriting is still the main idea. And on this latest and third release from the band, “We Are The Nightmare”, ARSIS pushes further out of the sheer technicality of the music and further into the songwriting process.
Of course that doesn’t mean the technicality isn’t there for the band. Musically, the band is still very technical. Whether it’s the impressive footwork and diversity of drummer Daren Cesca or the heavy foundation of bassist Noah Martin, everybody is impressive on their instruments. Guitarists, Ryan Knight and James Malone, shred through riff after riff interspersed with the precise and clean sounding leads. The leads and solos are definitely the most impressive part of ARSIS (always has been) with the band essentially lighting fires to their fret boards while all the while keeping it melodic and catchy.
What may not impressive many of the fans of ARSIS is that “We Are The Nightmare” is probably the catchiest and most user friendly release yet. The band plays more with ‘space’ on this record. Allowing silence to punctuate their songs instead of sheer depth of the music is something we haven’t heard from ARSIS before. This choice does create a dilemma. The band has sacrificed some of the sheer intensity and depth of their music for this new direction, but they have garnered a catchier and overall more memberable song structure for most of the album. I will not say this is a poor choice as I found myself enjoying every song on the album and the album as a whole. Not bad – just different.
Many fans may find that this album doesn’t compare to their original two, but in my opinion, this album not only shows the technicality and impressive instrumental work of each band member but shows that the band can write a great song too. It’s the best of both worlds for myself as they blast and shred their way throughout “We Are The Nightmare”. Throw James Malone’s raspy vocals on top of that and Cesca’s roaring and we have ourselves a very solid Tech Death release. Possibly the best in the band’s career.
Songs to check out: “We Are The Nightmare”, “Servents To The Night”, “Failure’s Conquest”.
(Online May 7, 2008)