Friday, December 30, 2011

Arsis - United in Regret


October 26th, 2006 marks the date that Arsis released their long-awaited follow-up to their debut classic, A Celebration of Guilt. I think that there are quite a few people out there that can agree with me when I say that this record is disappointing. Filled with anger towards Willowtip Records for not giving them the freedom to progress their music, Arsis had a very difficult time writing United in Regret. Don’t get me wrong, this album is good, but it Arsis’ worst album by far. If you look at the ratings I gave each of Arsis’ albums on Spirit of Metal you will find that most of them are 16/20 or above. Although in a general sense I’m easily impressed, I’ve started to become more critical with the music I listen to; exploring every aspect of the music with greater depth and knowledge. I have also picked up the habit of doing extensive research of a certain genre or band, especially when I’m writing a review about it.

Many of the members left the band sometime after the release of United in Regret; I’m guessing because of utter tour exhaustion because Arsis ended up being on the road constantly for almost two years. But we have yet to talk about what one would hear once they but this record on the table (I’m a record spinner). The tempo changes in all of the songs are confusing and hard to keep up with making the music hard to fully enjoy. The key and chord structure remains inconsistent throughout the record giving the impression that you have pieces of different songs put together into one song; so a lot of the parts sound out of place.

The notes that the guitar solos don’t seem to be at all in the same key as the song; and one of the things that I find repulsive is when there is a complete clash of key signatures. The solos and technicality are well beyond impressive, but the music backing it up is weak and colorless. And even though this isn’t anywhere near being their fastest and most technical album (the two albums after this are actually a lot more complex), the band felt that they were being forced to spit out pure technicality and complexity; but they did sneak in some simpler and slower guitar lines and tempos here and there to give the music some interest. The lyrics don’t really make any sense to me, maybe just because I have a hard time understanding the messages behind lyrics (which is why I don’t usually bother with them at all). But it also could be because the band didn’t really care much about what this album sounded like because they knew that this was going to be their last Willowtip release anyway, so why bother working hard on an album that you have such limited freedom on?

Although it may seem like I’m completely bashing this album and saying it sucks; it does, but only when compared to everything else Arsis has released. If you just put it by itself without comparing it to anything, it would be considered by me to be a “better-than-average” record. There isn’t anything on this album that really sticks out to me therefore causing me to have a lack of motivation to listen to this album. I actually don’t really listen to United in Regret very much at all because it just isn’t nearly as enjoyable and satisfying as A Celebration of Guilt, Starve for the Devil, and We are the Nightmare.

As far as recommendations go, I wouldn’t recommend that you look this up unless you are either really curious, a die-hard Arsis fan, a huge tech death fan (like me), or if you have never heard music before and this is the only album that you can access. United in Regret is pretty mediocre although the technicality and major improvements in the vocals have earned it three extra points. I don’t really have much else to say other than if you’ve never heard Arsis before, look up one of their other albums. I would give this 13/20.