Review Roundup #2: Arsis, Immolation, and Look What I Did
What the hell happened? Deflorate adopts We Are The Nightmare’s second axeman and suddenly the core members of Arsis return – for this? Starve For The Devil is an album that painfully reveals itself by the third track; you get it, we get it, you want to play metal, cool. In a positive light, one could see how a more bare bones melodeath and thrash love affair could reveal gems in the foundation of Arsis’ sound – but Arsis excelled at revealing that anyway, allowing un-melodrama and fusion to oil the melodeath war machine instead of selling it for scrap parts. When arduously trudging through a tracklist of boring trash, boring Gothenburg, and boring fucking drums (a far cry from Nightmare’s Cesca drum performance), the halfway point heralds “Closer To Cold” – A track that resembles a whisper of the forward thinking metal palette that got them on Willowtip in the first place. The rest of this album is not fun – a thrash revival can at least be well written in a modern context, and save for a Malone solo or two, this is not. Arsis handled these elements so well before, and the fact that Starve For The Devil exists instead of a live cover or Mercyful Fate tribute is inexcusable. A band doing “what they want” was always a bullshit excuse; it implies that they started their musical endeavours gratingly and unenthusiastically to appease an audience that was not even there yet. If Starve For The Devil represents the true heart of Arsis, then Deflorate exists to rip it out and make them eat it.
In a way, (for me), modern death metal’s (which, through genre speciation, is noted as brutal death metal) all-star line up resembles the thrash “Big 4” of yore. Cryptopsy takes the Metallica cake, Deeds Of Flesh trades with Megadeth, Disgorge has Anthrax, and finally, Immolation takes… well, the place of Slayer. Imo, Immo have always played the darkest and most nihilistic swill like Slayer before them, if somewhat lacking the complexity of Deeds and the animal brunt of Disgorge and Cryptopsy – but that darkness, and their lack of technical distractions, leads to a truly death metal experience. Progressive experimentation can prove chops, but Immo’s discography prior to Unholy Cult was the most active in exploring the depths of brutality. There is an elegance hanging over Majesty And Decay; the songs are crystallized in the same light as early Gorguts, yet they churn amongst slams and riff ascensions that rage as moving statues. Maybe I am too caught up in the cover art when listening. As brilliant as it sounds and feels, it’s fairly uninspired in terms of its construction – the riffs don’t wow, and the payoffs aren’t earned. It’s a return to form for Immolation, and can stand tall with the rest of their pre-00’s discography, but Majesty And Decay is ultimately unremarkable.
It’s been a rough exodus for the alumni of Combat (Generation 2), Koch’s ill fated art metal imprint. At All Cost caved right after their sophomore release on Century Media, HORSE The Band is still searching for sure footing after Earth Tour and I-Generation sales, and Look What I Did – well; “underrated” has hung about this band like a miasma for 6 years, and I get why. The heralding chords of “Baby Darwins” on their long awaited (you know, for the raters) third LP Atlas Drugged, is a progression you’ve never heard before, jazz standard or not. It is immensely well written for a band that combines as much Blink 182 as it does Soundgarden (Is “superstar producer” Brian Virtue creeping in the background?) – hell, throw in the full roster of mid to late 90’s rock megalodons and you still get a streamlined package that is predominantly math metal; scratch, its immensely well written, period. Atlas Shrugged is a future-proof, recession-proof, fail-proof rocker tracklist, bursting with humble oddities and hooks. It’s either all-growed-up alt metal for jazz buffs or simply Look What I Did – A band still releasing dangerous albums that will either dramatically affirm their 2005 fans’ hopes and praises, or plunge them deeper into ignorant obscurity. Atlas Drugged is a hell of a good time and a crucially unique one – savour this one, there may not be another like it forever.