Fetching album cover, isn’t it? It’s for the The Reckoning, the latest release (on Regain Records) from Sweden’s Arise. Arise has been around for almost 15 years, though the band was significantly re-formed in late 2006, with three new members joining the two remaining original members (drummer Daniel Bugno and guitarist LG Jonasson). The Reckoning is the band’s fourth album and the first since the 2006 makeover.
Regain publicized the album for a late-March 2010 release, so I thought it was new. But it turns out the album was also released in the spring of 2009 — or so it seems, because lots of metal blogs reviewed it last year. Puzzling.
At any rate, between the 2009 “release” and the 2010 release, The Reckoning has been reviewed quite a bit, and while most reviewers found things to like, a common snooty critique runs through the write-ups like a monotoned thread: That what Arise is doing has been done before by other, better-known bands in their early days, like At the Gates or Dark Tranquillity or In Flames.
I suppose there’s some truth to that criticism. I just happen not to care, because I’m having too damned much fun listening to this music. It’s thrash-paced death metal embedded with devilishly catchy grooves, seamed with melodic leads and solos, enhanced by razor-sharp modern production, and played quite capably by people who know what they’re doing. (more after the jump, including a track to stream . . .)
Most of The Reckoning‘s songs, exemplified by the aptly named “Adrenaline Rush” and “The Fury”, charge ahead with hammering riffs and turnpike-speed drumming. The rhythm guitars and the bass hit their rapid licks in unison to set up metallic-edged staccato grooves, and Gothenburg-style melodic leads and occasional fiery solos spin off those rhythmic dynamics. “Patsy” Johansson’s mid-range howls and growls supply satisfyingly vicious pronouncements of pain and protest.
This music harkens back to the early days of Swedish melodic death metal when the style was more death and less melodic, but the music also heavily incorporates elements of Bay Area-thrash. With few exceptions (such as the stripped-down “Pitch Black”), speed and power are kings in the land of Arise, but the songs are well-structured and sweetly addictive.
The Reckoning may be a stylistic throw-back, but the production is a far cry from the Swedish underground scene. There’s no garage-band muddiness in this sound. The instruments are distinctly separated in the mix, and even when distorted chugs are the order of the day, the production is clean and sharp.
Arise brought along some guests on this album: Scar Symmetry guitarist Jonas Kjellgren (soloing on “Adrenaline Rush”), Dark Tranquillity vocalist Mikael Stanne (providing additional vocals on “They Are Coming For You” and “Dead Silence”), and Nostradameus guitarist Jake Fredém (soloing on “The Reckoning”). Their contributions are subtle and really weren’t needed — Arise does a fine job generating compulsive headbangers on their own.
Maybe, like some other reviewers, I should be more demanding. But I like this style of music and I like this band’s no-nonsense approach to the attack. Judge for yourself: here’s a track from The Reckoning: