New Album Review: We Are The Nightmare

27 04 2008

I haven’t claimed to be unbiased in my reviews, so I think I should start out this review by saying that Arsis is a little bit of a guilty pleasure. When I listen to them, I can’t help but feel like there is something clandestinely gay about them… like if they had choppy emo haircuts and wrote songs about serial killers then they would be full-fledged deathcore wannabes, and all the teenage girls with raccoon hair would be all over their nuts. Maybe it’s Malone’s voice, maybe it’s the occasionally cheesy melodicism, maybe it’s their always cheesy lyrics.

Anyways, despite all of this I still enjoyed their first three releases (even though United in Regret was mediocre at times), and I had good expectations for this album. And most of them weren’t met. Sure, the title track is catchy enough, what with the band throwing in a melodic little refrain every chance they can. The songs continue on in fairly typical Arsis fashion, always trying a little too hard to be technical, yet still retaining a quality about them that makes them seem fit for it. However, I have to say that the attempt at progressiveness by drummer Darren Cesca muddies up the continuity and flow of the songs. They try to throw in too many un-needed details, and it ends up sounding like a bit of a mess. And I also have to say that there is a strange anemic quality to the guitars as well. In certain parts (especially the intro to “Shattering the Spell”), they just don’t carry the weight they should, and end up being a little whiny. Speaking of which, James Malone…

3/5

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New Album Review: obZen

15 04 2008

When I heard Meshuggah was working on a new album for 2008, needless to say, I was excited. They had set the bar high with Catch 33, and I was eager to see how they could possibly progress from, in my opinion, one of the greatest metal albums of all time. However, that’s where my expectations for this album peaked. After they started releasing information on the album, claiming it would be a return to their thrash roots and a step away from the progressiveness of their last few albums, I felt a little sinking feeling. I felt an even larger one after they released an image of the cover, along with the title of the album. Needless to say, it’s a strangely fake-looking man with three disproportionately large hands covered in blood. And the name they chose was obZen, which doesn’t really mean anything at all.

And then came the fuzzy internet-radio rip of “Bleed”, which kept my interest the same way a 3 hour visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles would. It was at this point I pretty much gave up. How could the band that could always be counted on to defy the convictions of music leave itself behind like this? And then the album came out. With one gleam of boyish hope still left in my heart, I picked up the album in haste.

The first thing that struck me about the album was its sheer heaviness, in all aspects of play and production. The sometimes groovy, sometimes staccato attack of the dual 8-string guitars reaches a level of heaviness higher than I thought even these guys could achieve. The drum production does not disappoint, as it did with Hate Eternal’s Fury and Flames (which was cool enough, but nothing special). Jens Kidman’s harsh yell is the same as it has always been, and still works well, contributing to the intensity of their sound. The most notable tracks on this album are the opener, “Combustion”, which opens sounding like a Tool song and then proceeds straight to thrashy goodness, and the title track, “obZen”, which could be the most crushingly heavy song ever. Maybe.

4/5