The full-length debut by Virginia-based technical death metal group Arsis is actually a duo recording -- bandleader James Malone plays guitar and bass and sings, supported by drummer Michael Van Dyne. And it has the obsessiveness one can often hear in works that boil down to one person's vision; the riffs come fast and furious, and the drumming hits like burst after burst of machine-gun fire, particularly the relentless double bass. There's much more melody here than on many tech-death albums, though; Malone favors epic choruses and fleet, slick solos, both of which are heard in abundance on songs like album opener "The Face of My Innocence" and "Maddening Disdain," the latter of which is built around a riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Megadeth album. The production is fantastic for a debut, showcasing a thick, full guitar tone and a phenomenally concussive drum sound. The only real weakness of this disc -- and it's one that dogs Arsis to this day, for obvious reasons -- is Malone's vocal style, which is something like a black metal shriek, but with the addition of throat polyps. It's a very unpleasant sound, and it can distract from the greatness of the riffs and solos, which is unfortunate.
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman