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Friday, April 03, 2009

CD Review: Arise - The Reckoning

Arise - The Reckoning
2009 Regain Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



This might be a new name to you, even though Sweden's Arise found themselves nestled on Universal Records in a blink of an eye during 2005. Of course, the mighty Mushroomhead did some time with the same label and were dropped despite outstanding sales--counting by non-conglomerate standards, of course.

Figure the same fate for Arise who were likely picked up by the big leaguers in the Swedish metal sweepstakes as Arch Enemy, In Flames and Soilwork became instant toasts of the At the Gates-revival party. Who wouldn't want to have their own Arch Enemy, not when punishing thrash and death metal motifs scored some voguish duckets only four years ago?

Of course, the year is 2009, record sales are in the air in light of floundering economies and Generation Tech imposing its MP3-addicted will upon music presentation. Arise find themselves on Regain Records, a label dedicated to some of the more extreme forms of black and death metal and one who, for the record, reissued Arch Enemy's hard and brackish debut Black Earth in 2007.

Suffice it to say, Arise is exactly where they should be, because their fourth full-length album The Reckoning is all that you want if Gorgoroth is too much for you to handle but you need something nastier than say, Parkway Drive. In fact, The Reckoning is stuck plumb in the middle of both extremes, which means it rocks like a beast.

There's assuredly a fine line between death metal and the newly-dubbed deathcore and Arise treads cautiously between these modes with a heavy lean towards pure death metal and wicked-paced thrash. Moving quickly and expediently through the opening cuts "Adrenaline Rush" (appropriately titled at a meager two minutes) and "No Memory of Light," Arise keeps all fatty tissue carved clean of their vicious and largely addicting tunes.

As Arise has been officially around since 1996 and recipients of the graceful production touch of King Diamond's Andy LaRoque for their 2000 demo Abducted Intelligence, this band displays professionalism equivalent to their experience on the scene with The Reckoning.

Though Arise had to suffer some personnel shifting, they sound magnificent on The Reckoning, particularly on "They Are Coming For You." Masterfully conceived, "They Are Coming For You" is built on straight-ahead thrash that waits until three-fourths of the ride before changing tempos, in particular a seriously bad-ass drum pump from Daniel Bugno which lets his guitarists Sternberg and L-G Jonasson jam loosely with him before finishing with an Arch-Enemy-esque stride.

While "Pitch Black" is a two-plus-minute instrumental sounding like a prolonged breakdown with various fills overtop (do you think this might be a cheeky stick at the metalcore youth?), Arise confidently assembles their tunes between traditional Swede stomp tempos and muscular thrash bursts. Daniel Bugno is particularly exciting throughout this album as he makes his boisterous splash cymbal sequences come alive like Japanese dragons at gong's beckon.

Other songs such as "Reclaiming the Soul," "End of Days" and the anything-but "Dead Silence" run fastidiously with genuine motivation and articulated melody, especially the hammering guitar chords on "Dead Silence." You think your local metal festival can get your ass shaking in the pit with brutal guitar strikes? Check this shit out...

Not that Arise has ever sold themselves out when finding the brief fortune to score a major recording deal, but it's evident as of The Reckoning this band is in it for themselves. Though you can hear quite a bit of what's red-hot in metal's various strains on The Reckoning, the effort Arise puts into their work is sincere. A truly entertaining album from a band who should've been on the same tier as their esteemed countrymen, but after you've heard The Reckoning, you'll be pleased as punch they're not.

Rating: ****

4 comments:

Kai L said...

Thanx alot for nice review! :)
/Kai Leissner, ARISE

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Absolutely my pleasure, Kai. I enjoyed it immensely. Keep that stuff coming!

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