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Arsebreed – BUTOH Award winner

by Max Elias at 27 November 2020, 9:55 AM

The debut release from ARSEBREED features Romain Goulon, famed DEATH METAL drummer from NECROPHAGIST as well as many other bands, which is reason enough for any DEATH METAL fan to check it out. But apart from that, it’s just a good album. The first track, “Obliteration”, is so short you would expect that it’s another of those atmospheric intros; although it does start out that way with the sound effects and everything, it introduces some formidable TECHNICAL DEATH METAL riffing halfway through. And the continuation into “Manifest” is so natural it feels like those were originally one song that were split during recording for some reason.

All the songs that are less than 2 minutes long (so the first three) have the same general character to them, which is neoclassical, slightly NECROPHAGIST-esque frenetic but melodic riffing. Even though they are on the album as three songs, I prefer to think of them as one song in three parts. They are marked by acrobatic lead guitar lines that are still catchy and blast beat drumming that offsets the cerebral nature of the riffs.
The ‘second’ song, which is track 4, “Tether”, displays many of the same qualities. The riffs are less spiritual successor to NECROPHAGIST and more the band’s own style, but “Tether” opens with an impressively melodic sweep picking section, and the later leads such as the one a little over 3 minutes in have NECROPHAGIST written all over them. The band’s own style that I mentioned is maybe a little bit more brutal than NECROPHAGIST or similarly-inclined neoclassical techdeath, but has more than enough melody dispersed throughout. “Equillibrate” for example has a few chugging ‘walls of sound’ sections punctuated by the occasional pinch harmonic, which feels like a mainstay of BRUTAL DEATH METAL. The same can be said for “Emergence”, especially in the beginning.  The first riff on “Recomposed” although very technical is punctuated by constant syncopated chugging. On another note, so far every song has ended with sound effects of some sort—the music will have ended and there will be these ‘alien’ sounds for a few seconds. That is the only problem I have with the album.

A standout track is “Malevolence”, notable not just for its virtuosity, but also for its song construction. It’s mostly built off of an early-established motif that branches out into and between further riffs in the song, which is the kind of simple yet efficient structure that is not too common in TECHNICAL DEATH METAL. It’s refreshing to hear such emphasis on the song and more ‘conventional’ structuring being used without sacrificing any of the incredible musical ability required to pull off the song.

Despite the short length of these songs, it seems like ARSEBREED manages to fit a guitar solo in at least half of them. These solos are always welcome additions that take the energy of the music higher and (at least for a guitar nerd like me) force the listener to spend a few seconds staring into space trying to figure out how he just played that. The deft sweeping and tapped arpeggios on “Emergence” are head-turning and an important marker in the song; they signal a shift from the brutal to the technical sections of the song whenever they appear.

Never has there been a less accurate name for a song than “Sanity”, which between its technical pedal-tone and stopgap riffing and many breakdowns is anything but sane. It does feel like the sparsest song on the album; it gives way to a long breakdown around minute 3 and fades into ambient sound effects for the last 45 seconds or so of run time. Once again it is a multi-part song split in two, as the following (and final) track is “Insanity”, which is much more akin to the shred-infested dynamism ARESBREED have established throughout the rest of the album. This song is unfortunately not immune to the band’s inexplicable fascination with sound effects though, as a full two minutes is just ambient noise as well as the occasional growl, and that’s how it ends.

Apart from what I see as a woefully anachronistic and underwhelming ending that pulls me out of the music entirely, this is a fantastic record. The writing and song construction is compact but leaves room for surprises, the guitars are sharp and persistent in the mix (without overshadowing anything), and the shredding sounds like it does belong on that mythical third NECROPHAGIST album. Without any of the sound effects which are just fluff, this (and hopefully their next record) would be a flawless entry into the TECHNICAL DEATH METAL canon. I’ll be listening to this a lot more than once and I suggest you do the same.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Musicianship: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

  1. Obliteration
  2. Manifest
  3. Disintegration
  4. Tether
  5. Equillibrate
  6. Recomposed
  7. Malevolence
  8. Emergence
  9. Sanity
  10. Insanity
Daniel van der Broek – Bass, Guitars
Romain Goulon – Drums
Marco Pranger – Lead guitar
Robbe K – Vocals
Joel Sta – Vocals
Record Label: Brutal Mind


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Edited 27 January 2022

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