Arsis

United in Regret

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The second Arsis full-length, which followed their A Diamond for Disease EP, showed their willingness to move toward the American metal mainstream, while retaining the technical intricacy that had been their trademark. The EP was a display of raw ambition, including a 13-minute track originally written for a ballet company; there's nothing that surprising or paradigm-shifting on United in Regret. What fans will get is a refinement of the Arsis sound through an even crisper production than their debut, A Celebration of Guilt, provided -- every instrument is equally spaced in the mix, and even Malone's vocals are more palatable to the casual listener, without ever becoming "clean." The complex riffing and lightning-fingered solos that made previous releases so exciting are definitely still present in force, though. There's only one big, and slightly unpleasant surprise -- a cover of Depeche Mode's "The Things You Said" that offers none of the original's moody power and defuses the melancholy of the lyrics by having Malone scream them. The melody lines translate well to distorted electric guitars, and the brief guitar solo is of the high quality typically associated with Arsis, but the addition of double-time death metal drumming does nothing for the song. The original songs on the album are much better than this cover, making its inclusion somewhat baffling.

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