I still cannot believe I've not owned any ARSIS albums until "We Are the Nightmare", the band's debut for Nuclear Blast (after spending time on Willowtip). I even managed to miss the band's set a year or so ago after arriving late. One is never quite sure whether the hype over a group like ARSIS is warranted, but I can now say that it is indeed; all the fuss makes perfect sense now. There is so much discussion about ARSIS' technical ability that some are left wondering whether the construction of good songs has been left behind. Never fear, on "We Are the Nightmare" dizzying technicality is joined at the hip with memorable songwriting. That an album can shock and awe the tech-heads and give the non-musicians something with which to sing along is not something that comes around every day.The beauty of "We Are the Nightmare" is that it is melodic death metal that works on several levels. Every note played is done in service to the song. You'll hear choruses and melodies that stick to the ribs, yet in no way mirror the crooning miscues of what some might call "nu" death metal. Songwriting is paramount and no matter how impressive the musicianship, the quartet never loses focus in that regard. And yet there is so much to enjoy that has nothing to do with vocal lines or choruses. This is a guitar lover's album if I've ever heard one. Whether it is deliciously crunchy riffs, harmonies that are sharp and soaring, or solos that play like symphonies, the sounds that fill the room are magnificent. Zeuss' production and Alan Douches' mastering do big time justice to the guitar sound, giving everything a brightly lit and crisp sound. The kick drum sound is a little too clicky, but it's such a minor issues, as to barely be worth mentioning. As far as the drumming is concerned though, the playing is incredibly dexterous and the fills are absolutely crackling. With a running time of 40 minutes, there is never time to get bored, as if that would ever happen with this level of songwriting anyway. "We Are the Nightmare" offers so many monster licks and solos that you'll find a new favorite one every time you spin the disc. If ever I had an occasion to talk about an album sounding like a combination of CARCASS ("Heartwork" era) and mid to late period DEATH, it would be this one. I'll not go overboard with praise and call it metal album of the year or anything, but "We Are the Nightmare" is easily one of the better melodic death metal albums you will hear in 2008. Crank it loud and soak in each and every note.
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