Arsis

We Are the Nightmare

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Three of the terms that one hears in connection with death metal are "technical death metal," "melodic death metal" and "blackened death metal" -- and all three of them apply to Arsis to some degree on We Are the Nightmare. The material on this 2008 release is decidedly technical; We Are the Nightmare isn't math metal, but it's definitely the type of demanding, often angular material that you aren't going to be able to play if you don't have your chops together (which the members of Arsis obviously do). And Arsis, for all their thrashy, bombastic intensity, are relatively melodic -- not ultra-melodic, but relatively melodic. That brings us to the blackened part, which has a lot to do with lead singer James Malone's extreme vocals. Although one hears some deep, guttural "Cookie Monster" growling (one of death metal's trademarks) on We Are the Nightmare, most of the vocals favor the type of sinister-sounding rasp that black metal is known for. There are no clean vocals on this 40-minute CD, only extreme vocals, and the rasp is much more prominent on We Are the Nightmare than the "Cookie Monster" who has been a big part of death metal since the '80s. But as much as Malone's rasp (which could peel paint) does to blacken Arsis' death metal, this is still a death metal album first and foremost. If Malone gave up the rasp and let the "Cookie Monster" prevail 100-percent of the time, Arsis' death metal would have very little in the way of blackening. Arsis, it should be noted, is among the death metal bands that emerged in the United States in the early 2000s -- a time in which death metal, like black metal, was dominated by the Scandinavian countries. The tunes on We Are the Nightmare aren't remarkable, but they are decent and remind us that American bands still have some things to offer death metal in the 21st century.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
blue highlight denotes track pick