Death Metal With no Masturbatory Dissonance

Arsis are a two-man death-metal group from Virginia (they rent a bassist and second guitarist for live gigs). Their debut, A Celebration of Guilt, piled one knuckle-popping riff atop another like they were challenging peers and fans alike to keep up, but anthemic, almost arena-ready choruses were their secret weapons. It was a fierce combination, and had they emphasized their melodic side just a little more, Arsis could've headed toward almost Trivium-like levels of success. Instead, they delivered 2005's A Diamond for DiseaseEP, complete with a 13-minute title track commissioned by an avant-garde dance troupe. (No, really.) And on their second full-length, they're again choosing complexity over listener-friendliness. The riffs don't resolve as neatly into fist-pumping choruses, and the solos have more loops and whorls than before. Even the vocals (the band's sole flaw) are slightly more distorted and tormented-sounding. Only Mike van Dyne's unbelievable drumming remains constant—the guy is leaving all peers save maybe Cryptopsy's Flo Mounier coughing in the dust. Everything is harder and a little bit meaner than before, but (and this is crucial) it still stops short of Dillinger Escape Plan–style masturbatory dissonance. United in Regret is American death metal at its best.

 
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