Saturday, 10 October 2009

CD Review: A Celebration of Guilt, by Arsis (2004)

It should be impossible for two men to produce so much sound, but the first CD from Virginia's Arsis demonstrates that it only takes two people to create a LOT of noise.

Arsis started as more or less a one-man project, with James Malone responsible for vocals and all instruments except the drums, and writing all songs and the music on A Celebration of Guilt. The CD booklet does not credit any help from a Producer or Engineer (Wikipedia lists Steve Carr and Bob Garske as Producers), so Malone likely had a big hand in these duties as well. Michael Van Dyne delivers drumming duties.

While the effort is appreciated and there is no questioning the dedication to technical heavy metal, A Celebration of Guilt is pronounced guilty of a few crimes. There is a sameness to the songs from start to finish, and the drums are both too fast and too tinny throughout.

Most of the songs suffer from a severe lack of cohesion. While interesting short tunes and melodies drift in and out, and require repeated listens to identify themselves, the overwhelming mark left behind is that of incessant and uncoordinated noise, which primarily consists of heat, fury, speed and quantity rather than quality song-writing.

A special mention to some of the song titles that aim to compete with many of the titles in Trivium's catalogue for the "wildly weird and wonderful words" category. The Sadistic Motives Behind Bereavement Letters certainly stands out in terms of a heavy metal song title, and for being the one track on the CD that almost hangs together and survives the noise assault with a meaningfully sustained tune from start to end. Almost.

Whenever Malone scrubs off some speed and simplifies his compositions, which happens intermittently and often for seconds at a time, he reveals a capability and talent that could be channeled into much more interesting directions. But on this first CD, Arsis can only be described as frantically running off in all directions at once, and hence getting nowhere, but getting there real fast.


James Malone Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Michael Van Dyne: Drums

Songlist (Ratings out of 10):

1. The Face of My Innocence - 7
2. Maddening Disdain - 7
3. Seven Whispers Fell Silent - 7
4. Return - 7
5. Worship Depraved - 6
6. Carnal Ways to Recreate the Heart - 7
7. Dust and Guilt - 7
8. Elegant and Perverse - 6
9. The Sadistic Motives Behind Bereavement Letters - 8
10. Looking to Nothing - 7
11. Wholly Night - 7

Average: 6.91

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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