Arsis takes its name from a musical term meaning "silence", but during the course of this album's running time, that is the last thing you should expect. A Celebration of Guilt is the creation of two talented men, one of them being the multi-instrumentalist James Malone. He plays guitars, bass, and does the vocals on all songs with Michael Van Dyne tackling the drum work successfully. Most two-men projects either suffer from poor production work or a terrible programmed drum sound that almost kills the magic of the music. Thankfully, A Celebration of Guilt proves to be a nice exception with its solid musicianship and fitting production, particularly for a first album.
This is a cross between melodic death metal that harkens back to the glorious days of Carcass' Heartwork era with its majestically performed dual lead guitars, recorded and mixed appropriately. The drumming is fast and pummeling; thick kick drum sounds fill the tunes with fat bass lines and a singer that has a great low growl type of voice. Often evocative of earlier At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity, Malone also employs a more screechy delivery akin to black metal shrieks or the less produced vocals of Alexi Laiho on the first Children of Bodom disc. Though not black metal, the album does feature a healthy dose of blast beats and tremelo-picked guitar runs, particularly on "Seven Whispers Fell Silent" and "Return". The latter also has a magnificent guitar solo marked by a great command of melody. The aggressive guitars contrasting the sweet melodic passages on "Worship Depraved" or the darker and relatively more midtempo offering on "Dust and Guilt" displays the band is far from a one-dimensional duo that can only produce mind-boggling speed riffs and extreme vocals. The classically influenced sweep solo on "Dust and Guilt" suggests melodic flow, while the thrash-ridden riff work on "Carnal Ways to Recreate the Heart" is the band's testimony to early 90's Swedish death metal.
In many ways very well harnessed, the album does have some minor setbacks. Though being a debut, it's nothing too serious. That said, some of the guitars tend to rely on overtly repeated riffs like on "The Face of My Innocence" where the same lick is played over for a good minute with no variation. And once the repetition is also noticed by the band themselves, the first thing they employ is a Swedish galloping riff akin to those on At the Gates' Slaughter of the Soul. With all due respect to this young American band, I feel this approach has much taken its toll and been done to death. Hopefully this minor problem will be overcome in the band's next release. Also, the fact that Arsis borders on the more aggressive and technical end of the equation where melody is not used as a medium to be listener-friendly, but moreso as a vital part of their craft that improves the composition.
- Face of My Innocence
- Maddening Disdain
- Seven Whispers Fell Silent
- Worship Depraved
- Carnal Ways to Recreate the Heart
- Dust and Guilt
- Elegant and Perverse
- Sadistic Motives Behind Bereavement Letters
- Looking to Nothing
- Wholly Night