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The Arcane Order easily impresses at first sight. Technically speaking, they have incredible musicians. The vocals are amazing, the drums are creative (the drummer refuses to stick to a beat for me than a minute), the solos are interesting and the lyrics are good (even in Death Metal standards). Also, they have introductions that easily impress the most demanding headbangers.
Everything mentioned above is present in "In The Wake of Collisions", an album that has all of the characteristics necessary for a good death metal band. The Arcane Order does not make their songs very riff-oriented here: they prefer not to focus on any specific element, and in every song all the musicians (perhaps not the bassist) are able to show their amazing skills. Blast beats, subtle melodies brought to us by the keyboards and interesting solos are present in the whole recording.
This album has two of the best death metal songs I have ever seen. The first one of them, Death is Imminent, is perhaps the most atmospheric song I have ever seen: it starts out with an epic, symphonic introduction, followed by some percurssion and a choir. After 25 seconds, the drums kick in, and with the guitars they create a slow yet heavy rhytm that made all my muscles tense up. Suddenly, the first beat of a bar is skipped, and the blast beats kick in, along with a crazed and desperate scream. The song never slows down. Actually, the vocals sound more desperate as time passes by, and by the end of it I had headbanged so much that my head was hurting. "Death is Imminent" also has a solo that could carry an entire album on it's back, and carries one of the darkest and most interesting lyrics I have ever seen (the first verses are "It's the end of everything! Your children will perish in the flames!")
"Eruptions of Red" is the second masterpiece present in this album. The introduction is impressive mainly because of the snare drums, which are used here in a way that I have never seen before. When it's over, the keyboards kick in, along with a crazed scream and intense double bass. This song has over five interesting riffs, and I am actually impressed that the band was brave enough to discard all those riffs so quickly in order to make the best song they could. The vocals here are the best of the album: they switch constantly between crazed screams and massive growls, and even uses some clean, linkin-park like vocals (by the way, this song has the only clean vocals of the album). Also, they grow crazier as the song nears the ending, and when they reach their peak of insanity the following verses are being sung:
Eruption of red
Now desolation comes
as my paradise
This is my time to rise
Upon thy tyrant throne"
However, the album has its flaws. Some songs like Sanctity of Allegiance end up being boring (although "Sanctity..." has some interesting double bass). Sometimes, it seems like the band has run out of ideas and decided to simply show off their skills. Every song has at least one interesting riff or solo, but sometimes stuff feels misplaced: the best example is the solo from "Between Reasons and Hubris": it easily tops most of the stuff I have seen in the past years, but when it is over the screaming comes back in one of the ugliest ways possible, instead of nicely like in "Death is Imminent".
This band is gifted with some of the best musicians out there. However, they sometimes lack creativity. If they fix this (and I hope they eventually will) they will be able to produce some of the finest death metal the world has ever seen. Not that I expect them to top "Death is Imminent" and "Eruptions of Red". Actually, if any band makes something that is definitely better than those two songs they won't be able to perform live: I doubt that human beings can look directly at gods without suffering anything terrible.
Just increase the brutality! I'll say this right now: This is not "The Machinery of Oblivion" part 2. This is more like a sequel of a great book. It's different enough to be respected in it's own right, but you'll recognize the same elements at work.
What I love about these guys, like I mentioned in my review of their debut, is their depth. Every member is very talented, and should be paid individual attention to understand the scope of the top-notch musicianship that is present in their previous album, this, and (hopefully) their future releases.
What's changed in the two years between their debut and this album? Well, like I said in my first sentence, the brutality has been increased.
Kasper has progressed leaps and bounds in these two years and his death growls are WAY more fearsome than they were on the debut. He really put his all into this album, and it shows. Only one note of contention, he doesn't use his clean vocals at all this time around.
Flemming C. Lund is still playing like the demigod that he is, he manages to shred and yet still brings out so much emotion with his playing. I'm a guitarist, and Flemming's style of playing is this pinnacle that I hope to reach some time before I die. It's a shame he is such an unknown in the metal world. He deserves as much fame as Jeff Loomis or Michael Romeo. He really should put out an instructional DVD, I know I'd buy it. His style of playing remains the same, though he has a more aggressive edge on this album. This is best exemplified by "The Reaping Revengence."
Morten Løwe Sørensen is a little more technical on this album, his precision seems to have increased somehow in such a short time! He probably eats and sleeps at his drum kit to have such skill at such a young age! From the fantastic fills and double-bass on "Sanctity of Allegiance" to the awe-inspiring blast beats on "Death Is Imminent" and "The Serpent Tower," his playing should inspire generations of drummers to come.
Boris Tandrup is still unhearable, so I can't say much about him. It feels like a huge mistake that all the other members are so talented, and the bassist can't show his skills as well.
One other thing that they changed with this release was the keyboards. Previously they were more of a futuristic atmosphere, done by producer extraordinaire Jacob Hansen. This time, the keys feel like they have been lifted straight from a Dimmu Borgir album. The keys are just EPIC. The way the album starts, with the symphonic entry on "Death Is Imminent" to the fading piano lines of "Sanctity of Allegiance" is just grand. I mean, I must have heard SoA around six times just for the piano. Please direct your applause to Kim Olesen from Danish power/prog band Anubis Gate who really added a fantastic touch to this already excellent album. I hope that on the third album they use Morten Sandager from Mercenary to do the keyboards, he really could bring a balance between the futuristic/epic atmosphere these guys invoke.
In short, this is a follow up you should own. I mean, it feels so different, and yet it's the same band that gave us "The Machinery of Oblivion." Hopefully the next one will be their "Master of Puppets" and direct more attention to this amazing, and yet unknown band.
When I first heard this band as 'Scavenger' back in 2005, I wasn't very impressed to be honest. The song 'Breathe the Poison' sounded kind of contrived. YAY another new Death Thrash band doing the same thing as everyone else, but my interest wasn't completely gone, as when their debut under the new moniker 'The Arcane Order' came out, I checked it out, and was very impressed. It basically showed me that Flemming Lund is a riff machine, throwing song after song at you with good riffs. Not generic riffs you've heard twenty times over, GOOD riffs. Y'know, different chord progressions than what other bands of the style are doing. Okay, enough of the past, lets get into the new record here..
I'll describe it first in one word: Epic. The melodies and harmonies Flemming is putting out here are ridiculous. Every song here features a chorus, verse and/or bridge with a wonderful melody. Not punchy melodies like you'd see in In Flames and stuff, subtle melodies usually behind a blast beat and a crushing rhythm riff, so they're not taking center stage in a cop-out for accessibility, they're there to add an aura to the overall composition. For a perfect example of this "epicness", check out the song 'Eruptions of Red', masterful.
Vocalist Kasper Thomsen (of Raunchy fame) has really progressed as a vocalist. On this two spots in 2006 (The Arcane Orders debut and Raunchy's Death Pop Romance) his vocals weren't very spectacular, he couldn't go very high or low, but on this here he's gotten ALOT better and actually sounds like a competent metal vocalist. I actually had to stop and think "fuck, this is still Kasper?". His new found vocal qualities totally add to the aura of the epic melodic parts of the album. Very well done. Also, drummer Morten Løwe Sørensen really shines on this record, and completely fills the quota for what drumming on a metal record SHOULD sound like.
What you have on this album is Death Thrash...with a twist. An impeccable sense of melody and crushing grooves. Leagues ahead of the debut, which is a very good record in itself. Sophomore Slump? Not The Arcane Order. Sophomore Triumph seems more fitting. Get this.
Recommended Listening: Death Is Imminent, Eruptions of Red, The Reaping Revengence.