Friday, December 30, 2011

Arsis - A Celebration of Guilt

It feels like I’ve been listening to Arsis for ages, but it’s actually only been about two years. I was a high school freshman and my friend and I noticed that on the website of one of our favorite concert venues that Arch Enemy was coming. I had become pretty familiar with Arch Enemy by that time but decided that since I had never heard of most the opening acts (Exodus and Arsis) that I would give this show a pass. And remember, my friend and I were only 14. So a couple days before the show played, my friend’s mom called me saying that she didn’t want my friend to be in the crowd by himself in case something happened; so she offered to buy me a ticket to the show! Seriously, who wouldn’t turn down free access to a metal show? So then I decided that it would be best if I looked up the other bands that were going to be at the show. The first band that was supposed to be there was Mutiny Within, whom I had already seen. I got an Exodus album and was minimally impressed (this was before I fell in love with all things thrash). I looked up Arsis on Spirit of Metal and saw that they were listed as “technical death”. Technical death? What the hell is that?? Although now I understand the definition of technicality in metal, this was something that I had only heard in The Black Dahlia Murder and All Shall Perish before I looked up this album.

Unlike Exodus, Arsis blew me away. The quartet hailing from Virginia has a sound that can trick anyone into thinking that they’re a European band (as it did with me). Having been in existence for over 10 years now, Arsis has a list of former members that is nearly the size of Black Sabbath’s. There aren’t that many huge death metal bands that have primarily screamed vocals, which is why it took the critics a little while before they were able to get their heads around the fact that Arsis is one of the most popular and influential tech death acts to come out of the 21st century.

Unlike some of the other albums I’ve reviewed, most of what’s on this record is pretty easy to describe. The guitar distortion on this album is still something I’ve never heard on another album (unless I forgot). The distortion has a very fuzzy sound that has some crackly noises (probably excess static from the fuzz effect). The bass even has some fuzz to it; along with the vocals being heavily distorted. Some people might perceive that as having too much editing and effects to cover up the band’s weaknesses. But after seeing them live, one comes to realize that this band has no weaknesses; only strengths. And the effects that are done in the studio only make them sound more awesome.

The song that initially took me off guard was obviously the opening track that starts off with a complex drum into that leads into a perfect demonstration of the two guitarists’ ability to control their instruments and bend them to their will. Although this skull-bursting track still remains my favorite Arsis song, the rest of A Celebration of Guilt tends to be…I guess somewhat weaker than The Face of My Innocence. Now what I’m NOT saying is that the songs all sound the same; the difference in the sound of every Arsis song in existence is enormous. The reason why I consider the majority of the album to be somewhat weak is because the songs basically aren’t as good as the ones on their most recent releases. But A Celebration of Guilt is still a definite classic in my book.

Having as much (and sometimes more) technicality than The Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis proved themselves to be true death metal masters by having the rare honor to have huge sales on their debut full-length within the first month of its release. Ever since then, they’ve done nothing but impress us even more with technicality, creativity, and more recently, fusing several different genres. I would definitely recommend that all of you listen to this and if you haven’t already, BUY IT! This album gets a score of 17/20.