Death Metal Underground

Ara – The Blessed Sleep

by Brett Stevens
April 20, 2013 –

ara-the_blessed_sleepThe metalcore community is aware of your criticisms and attempting to reform itself.

During the past decade, a number of bands have tried to reign in the genre from its Necrophagist-style peak of unrelated technical fireworks to more of the songwriting that made bands like Botch, Human Remains and Rites of Spring influential founders of the genre.

With The Blessed Sleep, Ara steps up to the plate by streamlining the genre and removing the unrelated parts, which keeps a focus on songwriting like Harkonin or Neurosis. This eliminates the biggest problem, but for those who don’t like metalcore, it leaves the tendency to scream out lyrics in a trope of regularity and a fascination with “different” riffs and surprise twists that often leads toward a predictability of being unpredictable. (Imagine a general on the battlefield who maintains an advantage by being unpredictable. After a while, it becomes random, and easier to respond to because there is no expectation otherwise.)

The Blessed Sleep attempts to work around these challenges to the genre by varying tempo and the texture of riffing, stacking subtly melodic arpeggios up against chromatic chugging riffing, and by not using any single technique constantly (except the angry-man-in-a-phone-booth vocals). The result is far more listenable and develops actual songs that, although based on jarring contrast, are able to return to a single pair of themes and develop variation there.

Although Ara are touted by many as technical, nothing here is particularly technical as in specific skills, but putting these songs together without them falling apart and playing them on the nose will be difficult for any but a professional and experienced band. The streamlined songwriting, topicality and focus make The Blessed Sleep one of the more intense tech-deth albums to emerge in recent years.

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104 comments

  • Archibald

    As i was interrupted from listening to massacra to check this out, thus opening the possibility up of a nice juxtaposition between the two bands, the points has been driven home that this is… shit.

    Why the fuck is it being reviewed? The space between good listens and these wierd ‘no saying’ reviews seems to be getting bigger suddenly.

    1. Why the ‘no saying’ reviews
    2. Why

      1. Brett Stevens Post author

        All reviews here are unpaid. I collaborate with selected media and label representatives and do my best to review their latest output so that the community as a whole can thrive.

        We would never take payment for a review. That’s advertising, and it would — by my rule — be required to be labeled as such or it would be deceptive. At this time, we don’t accept paid advertising either; our banners are all going to people who’ve helped us out in the past and we owe them one.

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      This review assesses the band as it stands musically and artistically. That’s what you’re here for. Beyond that, it would be a mistake for the reviewer to make any other claims.

      The reason for these reviews is simple: the metal community needs us to actively participate, so it knows that it can trust us and then read our other commentary on more esoteric matters of metal. The point is that current music needs to be reviewed here so that people will check out /bands, /faq, the zine, etc.

      There’s no point putting together a website so that 500 people a month visit. Even if I like those 500 people, it’s going to require a broader reach to be anything more than an expensive and time-consuming hobby, and those of us who work on this have enough of those as it is.

  • Archibald

    As i was interrupted from listening to massacra to check this out, thus opening the possibility up of a nice juxtaposition between the two bands, the points has been driven home that this is… shit.

    Why the fuck is it being reviewed? The space between good listens and these wierd ‘no saying’ reviews seems to be getting bigger suddenly.

    1. Why the ‘no saying’ reviews
    2. Why

    1. Blake Jugg

      I don’t even both when something is tagged metalcore. Since you wrote 4 comments, I listened to see how bad it is. This is not a good way to start my morning.

      What would be better?

      Most other things.

  • Archibald

    WHY THE FUCK ARE METALCORE ALBUMS NOW BEING REVIEWED BY THOSE WHO ONCE CREATED THE PORTAL TO NEW WORLDS THAT WAS THE DLA?

  • Blake Jugg

    I gave this a respectable 40 seconds before turning it off. Perhaps it’s too early in the morning and the heroin is still wearing off. I usually bypass anything with ‘metalcore’ attached to it. It resembles wanking more than metal. You should devise a red flag when something like this is reviewed so I never lose another respectable 40 seconds of my life again. You could probably insert ‘wankery’ in the tag secion. Or maybe insert something more witty. Wankkore. Wankerycore. Corewank. Hipsterbutdenyingcore. Stupidtrendthathelpsruinthetruemetalspiritcore.

  • bitterman

    Human Remains, Earth Crisis, The Red Chord… it’s all rap music on guitars. Sure, one has John Tardy vocals, one has bay area “hammer-on/pull off” parts, and the last has deep growls but, everything in between? Chugga chugga wigger dance parts and video game music. Listening to Biohazard or Chaos A.D. no longer makes you cool. Just call it gimmick noise. Even bands like Human Remains did everything possible around 1993 to fit in with the P.C., musicians, and hype crowd. Comic book cover art, fx pedal overuse (Sonic Youth), random weird noise octave shifted leads (like Meshuggah nowadays)? It’s all there. Maybe it’s cool if you like Coheed and Candiria or Tool simple rock music disguised as something otherworldly profound (drummer playing in odd time signatures, more strings barred during chords), but don’t expect true metal fans to accept this overly flashy, technically versed but ultimately purposeless dance music. You want dance music? Turn on the radio.

    1. archibald

      You go compose a tool song like ‘Third Eye’ then you wanker. Putting them in same camp as the garbage reviewed is retarded.

      1. bitterman

        Excuse me while I drop tune my guitar and whine over Helmet riffs. Next Tool album equivalent will be yours by tomorrow. After that I’ll make a song out of my favorite Morbid Visions, Seven Churches, and Pleasure to Kill riffs and use O Fortuna as the intro. You’ll have a new Massacra song too.

        1. anus

          “Next Tool album equivalent will be yours by tomorrow”

          But the thing is… it won’t. You will not have writted an equivalent song to ‘Third Eye’ by tomorrow, or the next day.

          The inevitable absence of a referent in the real world for your words renders you nothing more than an asshole; someone who sits behind their computer spouting stuff that they know they will never be held accountable for.

          1. bitterman

            Listen to Soen. Instrumentally, more complicated than Tool. Sounds exactly the same. The point being, anyone can strum barre chords in meandering patterns while drums play in an “odd” time signature, like how Tool does. You know, like how middle school kids cover their song Schism in clubs? I guess if you talk about LSD over it people will think it’s profound. Meshuggah’s Nothing had a similar impact, now look at the Djent movement. People think it’s real complicated to go, for example, 0-1, 0-1-1-4-1-2, 0-1, 0-1-2 on an 8 string guitar like a stuttering robot. Thing is, thousands of bands are doing that same thing, just as well, amounting to basically the same thing: dance music with “odd” time signatures but, Meshuggah may have a “deep concept” which separates them from the pack. Tool is alternative rock garbage but with “clever” lyrics. Anyone can compose an alternative rock song made up of fx board use, some tom work over it (hey, even Korn’s drummer does that), and talk about their “profound” drug experiences.

            1. anus

              Im always suspicious of people who write about why something is bad using words that refer simply back to their emotional responses. It’s circular and is no explanation at all of why the something is indeed bad. Drop the ‘alternative rock *garbage*’ sentences and you might express more actual content in your expression.

              Tool may be ‘alternative rock garbage’, but then again, they sound so much different from Korn, djent bands and the like. Aso, ot ‘anyone’ has composed tool songs but tool. (Any way, is your argument supposed to imply that, because ‘ death metal’ has a blueprint, i.e. slayer via neo-classicism, then it is devalued? More people have made music that sounds like slayer than people have made music that sounds like tool.)

              Take a simpler song of tool’s, to ignore this time signature compexity that people, instead of admiring, seem to fixate on as a means of davaluing the art. It is admirable in setting a ‘deep’ contemplative mood and for passing different textures over a fixed base in a seemless way that invites feelings of integration and cyclical processes. It IS essentially dance (or ‘trancey’) music, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means it’s not metal.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvFN1p6dzNk.

              Lastly, and in regard to this time signature business that is supposed to devalue their work: why isn’t an ability to link un-intuitive progressions of time signatures into a meaningful narrative as admirable as linking progressions of un-intuitive melodic intervals into a meaningfull narrative via phrasal compisition (riff shape, etc) in death metal? it’s different, but it’s still an effort to unite seemingly unconnected parts into a greater whole. It’s dialectic in a different way.

            2. Brett Stevens Post author

              I think an antidote to all of this would be to listen to some old Yes and Aphrodite’s Child. The “odd” time signatures of “progressive” acts like Meshuggah really aren’t that odd.

            3. Brett Stevens Post author

              I remember talking with Cory of Acerbus about this. His point: Meshuggah is a whole lot of nothing when you look at it from a theoretical viewpoint. From a rhythm viewpoint, it’s kind of neat, except that the effect is all the same and a band beat them to this in the past named Suffocation, and this band did it more artfully.

    2. Brett Stevens Post author

      Human Remains, Earth Crisis, The Red Chord… it’s all rap music on guitars.

      This is great and I hope you elaborate.

      For the study of metal, we must study everything, even tangentialisms.

  • metrosexual

    Would you people shut up and grasp the bigger picture? I wish these hipsters were playing at the Boston Marathon finish line, but since the wankcore folks can’t be killed, a wise someone might as well attract their attention to show them better.

    1. Metal Command

      Yeah. Ara is a lot better than the mathcore DEP stuff, the nu metal Korn stuff, whatever shit Necrophagist is, and whatever boring shit Meshuggah is. If this band got popular it might reform wankcore.

  • Ara

    Holy shit guys, simmer down. I think many of you are thrown off by the mislabeling of this as metalcore. While I appreciate the very positive review, I write the music in this band and I LOATHE metalcore. I mean, of course it’s not the primitive power chord chugging of Obituary but it’s a far cry from like I don’t know, Brain Drill or whatever. There isn’t a single “breakdown” or scale sweep bullshit on the record. It has much more in common with Immolation, old Cryptopsy, Incantation, Portal and Ulcerate than whatever metalcore happens to be nowadays, which I totally don’t pay attention to. Here. Give it a listen. arawi.bandcamp.com
    Take a dump on it if you want, but do so because you don’t like it, not because the word metalcore was written in a review about it.
    It’s death metal, like it or not. And as a genre, you guys know death metal goes deeper than your early 90s Earache and Roadrunner records.

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      It’s death metal, like it or not.

      I can’t agree with this. It’s musically distinct from death metal. Whatever the genre name is — although musically I’d argue it’s closest to the genre of Human Remains, The Haunted, etc. — it’s better than the vast majority of it, and you should be proud of that achievement.

      1. bitterman

        You see, when Cryptopsy, Kataklysm, and Gorguts began slowly but surely releasing albums incorporating influences from different genres outside of metal, it all seemed so neat and streamlined that on the surface it looked like a logical progression and they were expanding their sound. The truth is, they slowly got absorbed by the post-hardcore they were listening to (ADIDAS pants promo pics give that away further), and became Snapcase doing Suffocation, Hatebreed with Hypocrisy riffs, and Dillinger Escape Plan by way of Immolation respectively. They were no longer death metal. Just like how Korn uses A-string tuned guitars and stole the riff to Morbid Angel’s Angel of Disease and used growls on their debut album doesn’t make them death metal. This is groove based music (music to dance to), with busy polyrhythms, multiple time changes, distorted guitars, etc. The vocals may sound like Kevin Sharp with random bouts of intestinal reflux, but it’s still Human Remains 1995 material pushed further into a jazz/groove context, or Antti Boman’s attempt at making the “extreme” version of a post-hardcore album. It’s like a guitar center suite/clinic from a guy playing a jazzcaster dressed up to appear like death metal. The whole “death metal goes deeper than your early 90s Earache and Roadrunner” bit…again, Slipknot borrows death metal techniques (trem picking, blasts, growls) but aren’t a death metal band. Fear Factory, Killswitch Engage, there are many examples that shouldn’t be explained. To know that these differences make or break you from the genre should be innate. Back then, fans were quick to point out that Wolverine Blues was not death metal like Entombed claimed (in their bid to “keep it real” whilst being signed to a major label), so it was given the death n roll tag to separate it from the vastly different (attitude, composition style, etc.) well established genre of death metal, even if the Clutch sounding song on it had a Dismember riff in the middle for about 11 seconds, you see?

        1. Metal Command

          It’s important to be able to be inspired by other things without importing them wholly into your music. Obviously early Atheist was influenced by a lot of prog and jazz, but they still made it metal. Then there’s their newer stuff, starting with “Elements.” They stopped making metal that used those influences, and just put the influences directly in, then added metal riffs. Shit sandwich.

    2. Metal Command

      If I were condemned to a desert island for the rest of my life, I would much rather listen to this than the new Suicidal Tendencies, that De Profundis album, Profane Prayer, or the new Darkthrone. I don’t think what you’re doing is bad, it’s just trying to make the best out of the “evolution” of metal because hell musicians like to get paid too and maybe be a little bit popular so they’re not stuck on some CD-R label with only 50 fans. We get it. Driving all afternoon to play a show and then getting paid less than the cost of gas money, and having to drive back all night to get to your job in the morning, where you have to work double shift to comp the time you took the day before, really sucks. The only thing to do is try to be current. However, some bands who are going the old school route are doing well and could do a lot better with some business sense. This site loves War Master but I think Diocletian and Kommandant are the best examples.

  • anus

    This review, band, thread; it’s all pathetic.

    Next week: we will all be rubbing fecies on ourselves.

  • Tralf

    Reminds me of Gorguts – Obscura merged with mathcore. Not terrible, but the -core label will automatically turn off the kvlt kiddies.

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      Anything *core aims for a different spirit than metal. It’s like hardcore; they’re not into continuity and contrast like metal bands, but into reactionary difference. It seems a subtle difference, but it’s what is vitally different between the genres. Metal is not chaotic, but it looks chaotic until the bigger picture; punk is against the bigger picture being anything other than the microcosm…

      1. Tralf

        I agree Ara lacks the Gestalt compositional style of classic death metal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be appreciated for what it is. My comment was mainly a response to some of the detractors, whose behavior smacks of cloying hivemindedness, i.e. I DONT LIEK DIS EITHER SO CONGRAGULATE ME! a la kult attacker, metrosexual, etc.

        1. Brett Stevens Post author

          My comment was mainly a response to some of the detractors, whose behavior smacks of cloying hivemindedness, i.e. I DONT LIEK DIS EITHER SO CONGRAGULATE ME!

          This has been the ongoing debate at the site: we disagree with the way the world is going — do we retreat into an insular group, or return to the attack by re-engaging the broader world and ensuring that it sees our point of view?

          I don’t think running away works. Silence means consent in many cases. If you drop out into little circles of 5,000 metalheads worldwide who buy each others’ haphazard bands and support each others’ webzines, it ends up becoming inbred and dying out. Black metal won by seizing media attention and wielding it well, for a time.

          We should use that as our guide. It also is never going to hurt to encourage the best of metal and metal-related genres to follow the path of better songwriting, more focus on content, etc. instead of frippery and wankery like many of the tech bands employ.

          1. Cargast

            “Black metal won by seizing media attention and wielding it well, for a time.”

            Uhh… Brett, we need to talk. You’ve seen UTLTU and read Darkthrone interviews right? You know the whole part about “yeah, the media exposure really fucked the whole thing up because then everyone knew about Black Metal and started making shitty versions”? Black Metal lost: it was appropriated by people to whom it didn’t belong, and thus declined in quality.

            1. Brett Stevens Post author

              You know the whole part about “yeah, the media exposure really fucked the whole thing up because then everyone knew about Black Metal and started making shitty versions”?

              I think their point was that it was inevitable, at least in Until the Light Takes Us. When any idea becomes popular, it gets torn apart by the herd. What makes it popular is headlines about burning churches, murdered people and suicides. The bands definitely sought that.

              1. Cargast

                As far as Fenriz sees it, at least, it was not inevitable; it was the result of dumb ideas leading to mass hysteria and cultural appropriation. Either way, I’m glad you’ve realised the fault in your comment, though you haven’t acknowledged it; if the bands were after fame and fortune (unlikely), they got it, at the expense of their music. Which is more important to Hessians? The music – the culture – or the recognition? I think you’ve got your priorities mixed up.

                1. Brett Stevens Post author

                  I think we’re talking past each other. The point is that the culture will be exposed to trends no matter what happens, so what matters is designing something that is resistant to trends. Withdrawing into a small group won’t do this; it will introduce hipsterism instead. What matters most is making sure we get media attention for the right ideas, because those ideas in themselves introduce an esoteric view of metal. Black metal in many ways screwed up by being too enigmatic, which allowed people to imitate it superficially and the fans couldn’t tell the difference. It’s harder to penetrate progressive rock, cosmic music or classical because they are harder to imitate and have very abstract yet easily recognized notions behind them. This is why I am not agreeing with your point, but saying instead that black metal needed notoriety to thrive, but then had no defense against the notoriety.

                  1. Cargast

                    The evidence doesn’t support your suggestions, though: “withdrawing into a small group” is what saved every single wisdom tradition from the ire of the populace at large; “hipsterism” was avoided because the people who withdrew were, bizarrely, passionate about their mysteries (hard to be both interested and a hipster). The only reason the Samaritans are still alive and their religion still practiced is because they became insular; in doing so, they managed to retain core truths that the Jews lost during their interactions with other peoples. You can even look at Noah’s Ark: Truth maintained by a single man till it can spread across the world again.

                    What matters most is certainly not that we get media attention; that you could suggest such a thing disturbs me. The music must always be the most important part; if we’re reported as blood-drinking Luciferian hellions in the press, this is a bonus (“nobody, like, understands me”? Who cares?). Furthermore, f you look at the timeline, it is ’93 when the media picks up on Black Metal, ’94 when it goes apeshit, ’94 when the movement implodes, and the rest of the nineties producing subpar music. The best works of the second wave were released ’91-’94; at what point do you think the media attention served to influence or advance the works of the individuals involved? As far as I can remember, the best Burzum, Darkthrone, Emperor, Mayhem, Gorgoroth, and Enslaved material was written before the ’94 fiasco. The only way in which Black Metal “thrived” after its media exposure was as a consumer product.

                    You’ve pointed out the reason why I don’t consider myself a “metal fan”, up there: I can tell the difference between good Black Metal and bad Black Metal, as can you, and as can many of the people here. We are those who are passionate about their mystery: as such, it cannot die with us, but only in the hands of those who do not seek to understand it. I see this current iteration of the DLA as attempting to hand the keys over to a group that, by nature, cannot see the world the way we do. It’s all well and good to put your esoteric message out there for the world to see; it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to want to see it; it’s unlikely that, if they do, they’ll be able to understand it; given this, it’s highly likely that they’ll make a mockery of it, unintentionally or not, as has happened every single fucking time.

            2. Metal Command

              Nature’s first green is gold,
              Her hardest hue to hold.
              Her early leaf’s a flower;
              But only so an hour.
              Then leaf subsides to leaf.
              So Eden sank to grief,
              So dawn goes down to day.
              Nothing gold can stay.

              1. Cargast

                Dawn: Sabbath.
                Day: NWOBHM.
                Dusk: Extreme Metal.
                Night: 20 years of relative mediocrity.
                Dawn: ???

                You can make these within the various genre timelines, as well. I love the cyclical nature of things : )

  • anus

    While I appreciate the spirit and ‘prime mover’ causal force embodied by people who make artistic products, the consequences of their actions should be analysed. that’s what made the DLA great. It was like the mechanism in natural selection that caused the differential replication prospects of some gene lineages rather than others. The squeeze.

    This music is removed from death metal. Is it, as pointed to above, primarily groove based. This gives it the immediate ‘urban’ feel that we can get enough of with any mainstreem form of music, be it hip-hop, rock, nu-metal or metalcore. This feel is one that old-school metal is so far removed from, embodying a mythical-poetic feel due to it’s narative structure and dependence on phrasal/melodic development. The melodic phrases of this band do not pull you along like old-school death metal, it’s a comparison of rythms with unconnected riffs to my ears. That’s the best collection of words strewn into grammatical sentences that I can express my reaction of this music with.

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      This music is removed from death metal. Is it, as pointed to above, primarily groove based. This gives it the immediate ‘urban’ feel that we can get enough of with any mainstreem form of music, be it hip-hop, rock, nu-metal or metalcore. This feel is one that old-school metal is so far removed from, embodying a mythical-poetic feel due to it’s narative structure and dependence on phrasal/melodic development. The melodic phrases of this band do not pull you along like old-school death metal, it’s a comparison of rythms with unconnected riffs to my ears.

      I think this is correct. That’s why we analyze it as “modern metal” and not death metal so as not to set up unrealistic expectations.

      1. billhopkins

        Well, it is an interesting new approach to take. I hope it succeeds and I hope there will still be enough ‘traditional’ death metal to worship!

  • Ara

    Was Gorguts-Obscura core in any way?
    also, “urban…” that’s amazing.
    How much did the last song on Purgatory Afterglow make you think Edge of Sanity was metalcore? I can give a million other examples.
    Thinking death metal has to be one dimensional is really unfortunate.

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      Was Gorguts-Obscura core in any way?

      No. It borrowed some technique and integrated it.

      But Negativa? They then let the technique sway them; the tail wagged the dog.

      And hence it’s an entirely different project that has been far less successful.

    2. Brett Stevens Post author

      also, “urban…” that’s amazing.

      I saw that and had to laugh. It reminds me of the Scion advertising they were doing right before they decided metal was cool.

      1. Metal Command

        Dan Swano is the Ron Paul of metal. Some people love his stuff, and will force you to listen to it on pain of having to hear them talk more about how great it is. He’s obviously a good guy who does a lot for metal. Yet in the end the whole package is somehow not convincing… it’s too simple, and doesn’t quite add up. But he stays true to his principles.

  • Ara

    Bringing up Annti Bowman and stuff, sure I love Demilich and other bands that tried to push the envelope. But come on, Demilich not death metal? Because it grooves? Does hammer smashed face become not death metal at the chorus?
    I mean I get what a lot of you are saying in a way, but comparing it to Slipknot and the other bands you mentioned is a real long shot. Either way, if you checked out the Ara record, thank you for your time. And once again thanks for the positive review. I can see why fans of death metal are protective of the genre and I am the same way, but this was a record written by death metal fans for those wanting to hear something different within the genre, and it is ugly, jarring music, which is something I want to hear in death metal. We are not out to sully the name of any genre with dance music. That is ridiculous. This is about as far removed from “pop” as it gets. So if you can allow yourself to not be swayed by the splintering of genre tags and how that might be applied to this record, I appreciated you giving it a shot.

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      This strikes me as a fair and honest statement.

      I can see why fans of death metal are protective of the genre and I am the same way,

      There’s something very poetically honest about this.

      Demilich not death metal? Because it grooves?

      Lots of death metal grooves. It just grooves in its own way.

      Are you fond of Neuraxis? I enjoyed their recent output as well.

      Here are the major differences between death metal and “modern metal” — I’m trying to pick the most neutral term here — that I can see:

      1. Vocal rhythms. Death metal vocals are more like speed metal, which is to chant out the rhythm of the main riff or chorus phrase. Modern metal vocals are much like hardcore, which uses regularity to form a sound of protest.
      2. Riffing. Death metal riffs fit together as phrases telling a story; modern metal riffs are inherently designed toward circular song constructions. That’s, again, more like hardcore.
      3. Drums. Death metal drumming tends to follow the riff changes; modern metal drumming tends to lead the riff changes, anticipating them.
      4. Overall style. Death metal aims toward unison of all instruments and riffs fitting together to make a larger narrative so as to maintain mood; modern metal, like hardcore before it, seeks to interrupt mood as if a form of protest music.

      I’ll elaborate on these later, but wanted to bounce them off you first.

        1. Metal Command

          Me too. Death metal is like putting together a mesh of ideas and making sense out of them. The other stuff is like taking a mesh of ideas and making them even more random. “Join the decay of meaning” should be it’s motto.

      1. Metal Command

        Ugh. It doesn’t suck, but it feels like they tied one hand behind his back. Wonder if the drummer is the one who keeps putting him up to imitating these popular styles.

  • billhopkins

    It’s not that *because* a song grooves, it is not DM. That would be absurd, as you say. It’s that if parts of the song are not linked ‘melodically’, then it isn’t death metal. Now the term ‘melody’ might be a counter-intuitive one to use in the context of death metal, because death metal is not in a normal diatonic scale, which is what people normally associate with the term ‘melodic’ (i.e. this song is in *a scale* and so the song sounds consonant [read: melodic]). The intervals on a guitar used in a standard death metal song are not those that correspond to a bunch of notes in the scale of, say dmajor or cminor. It’s much more atonal, where a string of intervals played on a guitar are meaningfull to the listener, not because they correspond to notes in the same scale, but because they are related to each other in a non-random way, and evolve according to a shape or pattern. There is a different order at work than consonancy.

    Your band seems to rely on groove, where a song is a collection of different ‘interesting’ rythms. There is less connection between riffs in the way a classical peice of music starts with a riff (motif) and then evolves this motif through a song, perhaps ultimately arriving back at the start or else somewhere different *that is still thematically connected to the start point*. It’s more rythms playing off each other.

  • Brett Stevens Post author

    Now the term ‘melody’ might be a counter-intuitive one to use in the context of death metal, because death metal is not in a normal diatonic scale, which is what people normally associate with the term ‘melodic’ (i.e. this song is in *a scale* and so the song sounds consonant [read: melodic]). The intervals on a guitar used in a standard death metal song are not those that correspond to a bunch of notes in the scale of, say dmajor or cminor. It’s much more atonal, where a string of intervals played on a guitar are meaningfull to the listener, not because they correspond to notes in the same scale, but because they are related to each other in a non-random way, and evolve according to a shape or pattern.

    Good analysis. Hence our use of the term “phrasal.”

  • fallot

    @Ara

    But your music is nothing like Obscura in any way, what makes you think it is? What you do you do well, but it is not strictly metal music. Death Metal is absolutely not one dimensional, it had a period of immense variety, it is just that your music cannot rightly be called death metal though it does use some of its superficial techniques. Just because you use the same notes as Beethoven does not mean you are making Classical music.

    But what you do you do quite well granted, I am sure you will be somewhat successful with this. I do wish you well, honestly, arguing about music doesnt have to be personal.

    1. Ara

      I am not offended by anything here, really, so it’s not a matter of being personal. Hell, someone in this thread said they wanted my band to be part of the Boston tragedy, and I don’t care since that’s ridiculous. It is just alarming to have been a fan of a genre forever and to assume I have done something that belongs to it and have it be called metalcore or not metal. I would much rather have it be called grindcore, anything but metalcore. Metalcore is written for the audience so that kids have an excuse to dance. Ara won’t ever have a “breakdown” or sweep arpeggio (scale) masquerading as a riff, where those without knowledge of music can hear the superficial aspects of it and think it’s crazy or whatever. I don’t recall other metalcore bands having guitar solos or a vocal styles that recall Gorefest and such. If the argument is that the focus is too much on groove, we play too many notes, have too many odd time signature changes, I feel you are really limiting yourselves as to what death metal can be. If you want to call it modern metal or something else because it doesn’t sound like Autopsy, that’s fine, but to undermine what we are trying to do and lump it in with a completely substance-less genre is unfortunate and unfounded. Writing songs that tell a story is absolutely what the goal is, and I am not sure what the circular arrangements you are referring to mean.
      I never said we sound like Gorguts-Obscura although that is a definite influence and a highly forward-thinking death metal record that I was citing as an example of what can be done inside the death metal umbrella and still be valid. However, I doubt most of you would feel that way if there had not been a Considered Dead.
      As for Neuraxis, the only record I had of theirs is Imagery, which I think I only really dug the 3rd track on which had an awesome melodic part. Is melodic death metal, well, death metal? Is Necrophagist death metal? I saw Neuraxis live and heard bits off their other records but nothing really stuck with me. I also dislike wanky stuff. The Ara focus is the riff, and you can definitely argue that the riff has been dying in extreme metal for years.
      I am inherently argumentative and am having fun responding to these comments, but I am most likely going to bow out because the last thing we want is to be regarded as a group that cannot handle criticism. My responses have been more about the defense of my understanding of death metal which is something I’ve been passionate and argued about for years and less about The Blessed Sleep. So if you gave it a chance and liked the elements of it that bring to mind what you enjoy about death metal, that rules. It was not written to appeal to moshpit martial artists and it is not an attempt to gain success. We made it ourselves out of our own pockets and have no regrets. Thanks again for the very positive review and I hope all you guys continue to love what you love, because who gives a shit otherwise.
      Jerry/Ara

      1. Brett Stevens Post author

        Is Necrophagist death metal?

        No, and neither is Neuraxis, although Neuraxis is closer to death metal than Necrophagist.

        I continue to refer to Necrophagist as “metalcore” because they compose songs like post-hardcore bands more than death metal bands, even if they use deathmetal riffs.

        A good “boundary” band to mention might be Skinless.

      2. Tralf

        This community uses the term metalcore in a different way than most other metal communities. The folks on Metal-Archives use metalcore to refer to music that incorporates specific techniques and aesthetics such as single-note chugging and lyrics about personal issues. DM.org, on the other hand, uses the term in reference to a specific style of composition in which riffs are stitched together haphazardly and without logical connection. This latter definition encompasses the former but can also be applied to most modern death metal bands, whose songwriting lacks the conceptual development present in classic death metal.

        1. Brett Stevens Post author

          DM.org, on the other hand, uses the term in reference to a specific style of composition in which riffs are stitched together haphazardly and without logical connection.

          I think this descends from the post-hardcore aesthetic and hence is seen as “metalcore.” There is also “deathcore,” which resembles the definition MA uses.

      3. Metal Command

        Good for you. Necrophagist and Meshuggah are boring and inept composers even if they’re good musicians. I respect that you didn’t give in to that inane trend.

    2. Metal Command

      Death metal was absolutely not one dimensional. There’s also still infinite room to grow in that style. Style is not substance. The real problem is a lack of substance in the newer bands.

  • Steve Brettens

    Wow Ara sucks! I guess this guy wanted to do something different from the death metal period of 1988-1994 and he succeeded twofold: 1) it sucks because it’s not death metal 2) it kinda not entirely sucks as whatever type of music it is.
    x.x
    Explanation: simple, if you have been reading Prozak for over 13 years like myself (I can quote Prozakhistan by memory),
    the 500 readers that come here because Prozak is the main writer will: a) not like it and, b) be disappointed that Prozak IS the writer of this review.
    However the black metal/Sabbath article posted a few days ago is so fucken brilliant that he deserves all my respect and more. So once again, thank you for being the sage of metal Brett!!

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      I appreciate the kind words, but would also appreciate it if you would refrain from attacking my other writers. That puts me in a gnarly position where I have to be either a censor or a jerk (or both, probably).

    2. LOL YAY GO BRETTT!!!

      I agree, Brett is a sexy guy and I appreciate everything he has done for metal!

    3. Metal Command

      Come the fuck on. It’s obvious what is happening here. They’re trying to sell out without selling out. They put the really bad stuff in S.M.R. and give everything half-way good a review of its own. De Profundis and Ara are still much better than the rest of their genres. They’re also better than a lot of the “two guys on meth with GarageBand” underground stuff that’s sloppy and inconsistent, if not just outright stupid.

      If they pull this off, more people will be reading DLA reviews and the DLA view is going to be more accepted. It’s like how Judas Priest said what the hell and recorded Turbo so they could return a few years later and record Painkiller. If it works, it will be great. It’s a long hard road though so good luck them.

      What I would really like actually is for DLA to have a donations area so I can send $20 and feel like I’ve accomplished something.

  • Metal Command

    This wasn’t as bad as you guys make it out to be.

    However, it’s also not that inspired or inspiring. In particular, the repetitive vocals with the uniform time interval between syllables are killing me. I.AM.A.ROBOT.HEAR.ME.ROAR.

    Also the riffs don’t fit together that well. Death metal riffs send you on a journey. This just cycles. It’s not bad, but really it is closer to how hardcore or rock are composed than how metal is.

    Obviously these guys are really good at their instruments and kudos to them for not indulging in the sweep-picking b.s. that afflicts most post-2000 metal.

    However, I’m not sure this music is for a death metal fan. It’s a lot like the Suicidal Tendencies review above, actually. This is good music, just in the wrong style, and that contorts it away from where it might have gone if it tried for something better.

    Another way to put this is that if Luc Lemay decided to write Gorguts as a techno band, it would still be good, but he’d never have hit upon the complex and interesting stuff he later found.

  • kvlt attakker

    I support DMU, but not this article. No detraction here other than me thinking this band should’ve received a negative review, not a descriptive one.

      1. kvlt attakker

        Being that the genre shouldn’t exist in the first place? These are the kids that didn’t “get it”.

        No. This shouldn’t take up your time as a genius.

  • Ara

    I really wanted to stay out of the thread because there will be no convincing the readers of an outside perspective it seems, as what is good and what is metal has been clearly predetermined here. Those who decided to check out the record regardless, thanks a lot and that is very appreciated. I just wanted to clear up a few further misconceptions about who we are, as it seems a few of you think we have the knowledge and ability to put out something that is more palatable to an old school audience and decided anyway to conform and put out something modern, or “urban” or whatever. This is very much not the case.
    We have been playing music in bands for years, hell a couple of us almost 2 decades. As we grew as metal fans and musicians, our interests grew as well as our abilities, and as much as we like and grew up on the old school death metal you no doubt would rather hear, it didn’t interest us to retread those grounds and would probably be an even greater offense of poseurdom to you guys if we had. If you are a musician, it is a fun task to challenge yourself and this keeps you growing as an artist. I wouldn’t want to shit out record after record of the same stuff over and over. I would not get an emotional release out of the music if I did, and if we wrote music with the audience in mind and gave the death metal community the throwback it wants, that to me is the same kind of offense that metalcore bands fall prey to when they rely on breakdowns to get kids to move. This band is in no way an attempt to get popular or anything, it really is the music that excites us, so to say we have talent but are channeling it through the wrong style, with all due respect, that is not your decision to make. You want to know what the scene is like in Milwaukee? Only hardcore bands, and what passes here for metal aside from a few groups is extremely embarrassing. If we wanted to fit in anywhere here and pack bars we could easily do it with lousy music that does nothing for us. As for if we have hip hop influences, I could not think of a more hilarious question. We are not threatening your concept of extreme metal with urban beats. You guys mention Demilich a lot, and that record grooves from start to finish. I am really not hearing these dance beats you are hung up on. As you progress as a musician your rhythms become more interesting and if you think you can dance to what we do, that’s ridiculous.
    As for the riffs not going together, with technical music you have to listen to it a few times to find the thread. There are very few themes utilized in each song and they are very much unique to only the songs they appear in. Could you follow your Coroner records immediately?
    As stated before, defending the record and our stance on metal can be interpreted as proof of insincerity and bruised egos, so while I should have remained silent I couldn’t let people think where we are coming from is not genuine or inspired, and that we mailed it in to get noticed by a trend following community. If inspired to you means riffs from 1991, then yeah, you may not be our audience. If you don’t like the record you are entitled to do so, but to question our ethics as if we are using music as a vehicle to fit in somewhere is insulting and untrue. If the band does not succeed I will continue to write music like this on my own and be stoked to jam it in my living room. People have different tastes and if you feel everyone should interpret metal (which is probably the most elastic genre of music) in the same way as you do, there will be tons of people who disagree.
    Thanks again for your time and the positive review!

    1. Aleister Crowley (The Bisexual Sadist)

      I never found Coroner to be hard to follow. Mental Vortex showed skilled musicianship, sure, but it was very boring. I think what people are saying is, there are elements of death metal’s technique in your music, but not death metal’s narrative composition style.

      Compare Obituary’s Cause of Death, a death metal album, to World Demise, a 90s NYHC release with Obituary’s vocal and slow rhythmic style. Like you said, metal is an elastic genre, and even though both albums share similar aesthetics, are vastly different listening experiences. Doesn’t mean it has to be bad though. Bolt Thrower went from grindcore to doom/death, making great albums that have no real musical bond to their past.

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  • Metal Command

    The Suicidal Tendencies and Profane Prayer are worse than this, but the Standard Whore is a lot better, and in the same style. That’s really weird. I never thought I’d lump Suicidal Tendencies in with party rock, but time is full of surprises.

    Hey, Ara guys, did you ever think about making an old school death metal album? Can’t be too hard, based on what you say. Maybe a tribute to Autopsy, Dismember and Atheist?

  • Ivost

    Great music. To all those with pre-set patterns of how death metal should look like and how not – focus on the music as a whole, on the atmosphere of it. That will tell you it is death metal. There’s nothing metalcore about the record. If these guys are “hipsters” as mentioned, I can’t say, as this stupid trend has not come to our suburb country yet, but if I shall judge from listening to their music, they play death fucking metal and they have the roots, this is not a modern nonsense shit.