|Review: Arsis - We Are the Nightmare|
|We Are the Nightmare|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Death Metal
Review online: April 6, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
for:We Are the Nightmare
"So, what do you guys want the new album to sound like?"
"Let's make some more music like our debut album. A Collaboration of Guilt, wuzzit?"
"Nah, that would be boring. We need to keep up with the times."
"So what do you suggest, Mister Smarty Pants?"
"Let's add a lot of technical drum fills and riffs, and totally rob all of the songs of any sort of emotion they might have had otherwise. It's all the rage these days!"
"Sounds great to me!"
I don't know what goes on in Arsis's recording studio these days, but I imagine this is at least somewhat close to the band's thought process upon writing and recording this album. Seriously, why the flying fuck does EVERY SINGLE BAND in this genre feel the need to go "technical" on us? Is it just because this sort of music is popular these days with Necrophagist's rise to fame? It certainly can't be because these bands think they actually sound good. Either way, I'm sick of it, and I'm also extremely disappointed with Arsis this time around - I liked A Celebration of Guilt well enough, as it was an original, fresh take on a stale genre, with powerful guitar harmonies, stellar songwriting and some excellent lyrics to boot, and their sophomore effort was okay at best, if extremely unmemorable, but this...this is where I put my foot down.
We Are the Nightmare is not quite as bad in the songwriting department as Decrepit Birth's latest flaming pile of unmitigated shit, as it still has a few flairs of the classy old Arsis style melodies (few and far between), but it is exceedingly boring. All of the tech death staples are firmly in place, from the angular, jagged riffing, the polished, open sounding production, the endless drum fills and complicated beats, and the winding, diving solos, and it all sounds so bland and pre-processed that it sounds like it came straight out of a cookie-cutting board (the same one that Decrepit Birth has been using lately, too). This is all so bland and inoffensive that I'm starting to think that Nuclear Blast should start serving Happy Meals with these!
Sure, there are a lot of drum fills, and yeah, there are definitely a lot of guitar riffs and solos, but quantity doesn't matter if you can't do anything compelling or interesting with it, and Arsis certainly aren't. That's the thing I hate the most about this "tech death" fad. All these solos, all these drum fills and fast riffs playing off of each other - it's nothing but soulless "WOW, THAT WAS COOL!!!" fodder for the kids who think Morbid Angel is too soft and Obituary is too slow. The kids who bash AC/DC for being "too repetitive." It's all instant gratification, this technical Death Metal; not memorable or exciting or really anything. This music is melodic, technical nothingness; entirely lacking in balls and creative innovation, serving only to remind you that yes, technical Death Metal is all the rage right now, and it's not going away any time soon.
Arsis are still good songwriters (although they rarely show it here), and I can hear bits and pieces of the genius that shaped their debut here, but they're lost to the world of metal forever. Sellouts, in layman's terms. They're done. They were fucking done the moment they decided to start following the Trend of the Day and doing exactly what every other Death Metal band was getting popular by doing. In fact, just to make sure I wasn't just dreaming up this "sellout" theory, I listened to a couple tracks off of Arsis's debut again, and compared them to We Are the Nightmare, and I could barely even recognize the band now, save for the vocals (which are now completely devoid of any cool little nuances like the solo rasping bit in the beginning of "Dust and Guilt," by the way). I then listened to this again, and compared it to Necrophagist and Decrepit Birth, and guess what? It all sounds the same. That's right, same style of riffage, same drumming, and the same awkward sense of melody. Same everything. You know it's a trend when every band playing the style starts to sound alike. It happened with nu-metal back in the 90s, and it happened with metalcore just a few years back, and now it is happening with this new technical Death style too - just because this style is more definitely "metal" doesn't make it any less acceptable, folks. Arsis have failed, sacrificing an enjoyable and dynamic sound for gay, watered down crap, and that is unacceptable.
There are no standout songs on We Are the Nightmare, and not even any decent ones. Arsis may be getting more and more popular as the sun rises and sets every day, and they may have a big name label behind them now, but that won't last forever, and when they (and every other band of their ilk) fall, I'll be there, just to say "I told you so."
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