|Thrash Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore
March 29th, 2014
Release length: 47:56
Many people have cited Arising Fear to be a mixture of Groove Metal, Thrash Metal, and Heavy Metal. While these do sum up how some of their material comes off, their overall sound clearly ends up pulling those influences to a Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal foundation the likes of Unearth, Shadows Fall and even the German pioneers Caliban. All of this is established right away with “Mantic Shape” and it’s Thrash heavy main verses and rougher vocals that incorporate some clean singing during the hook-fueled chorus. Anyone who lived through the early Metalcore boom of the 2000’s will instantly recognize that foundation, especially during the slow breakdown just before the two minute mark, as well as the infectious Melodic Death Metal enriched bridges scattered throughout. Much of this can also be said for “Beyond the Walls of Anger” in more ways than one, but like it’s predecessor its still a fun addictive track, even if it isn’t too fresh or unique.
What really stands out here are the more dismal offerings. “Final Redemption” carries a slight bleakness to the music, which helps to pull away from the generally fun and upbeat atmosphere that swept over the start of the release. The mixture of darker mid-tempo Thrash Metal and Melodic Death Metal hooks and solo really just grabs your attention throughout and makes the familiar chorus more dynamic than it really is. This does carry over into “This Burden” quite nicely. The lead riffs throughout sound rather typical for the early Metalcore and even Gothenburg styles, and the blast beat that hits just before the four minute mark is nicely timed, complimenting the dismal environment the performance and spoken word audio samples set up, wrapping things in a way that lets the cleaner mournful start of “Come Alive Again” feel like the next chapter of that chunk of songs, though a bit more along the lines of Alternative Rock. It isn’t a bad choice, but its nothing you wouldn’t hear from the likes of Puddle of Mudd or Staind when not being whiny.
The biggest problem to be had with Beyond Betrayal is that it’s basically rehashed material and formulas. The first two songs will have you making comparisons left and right if you’re familiar with the Metalcore genre’s early days. Both tracks even conclude with that sudden cut-off with a guitar note being held until it fades, a gimmick that’s been used by nearly every band in the style at least once, let alone twice in an album back-to-back. On top of that every two or three songs seem to have the same general sound excluding “Come Alive Again” and “Deadly Embrace,” which just sounds like a mixed bag of material that doesn’t know whether it wants to be edgy or radio friendly. The main verses carry a mixture of Alternative Metal laced with Groove Metal and hooks with a more melodic chorus, all of which is just missing a Southern touch to make it complete. Early on there is a break to the music that gives the bass guitar the spotlight, which appears again on “Day to Overcome,” but the instrument itself isn’t loud enough. When listened to at a lower volume, it genuinely sounds like gap without any music. It could have been podded up a little more in the mix, but when all the instruments come together that slight twang is just noticeable enough to let you pick up on it and not seem completely absent from the sleek digital sounding audio.
There is one more negative element that needs to be touched on, and it’s the cut “Thrashing Brain Surgery.” This has some good ideas at work through most of the performance, but there are plenty of times where it seems like the band is trying too hard to make this come off as epic. This is thanks to things like the extensive guitar solo around six minutes in, as well as the padding about half way through to reach that seven and a half minute plus length. Had this just been cut down to a clean four and a half, maybe five minutes, this one easily could have been strong enough to have the listener coming back often. Instead some of the generic and simple bridges or passages end up leaving you checking the timer to see if it’s nearly done, or fighting the urge to just skip ahead to the next song all together.
Beyond Betrayal is one of those albums that if you go into it blind and not know the group formed at the time of Metalcore’s big boom, chances are you’ll outright dismiss them. There’s no denying this is one of the more irrelevant albums for the style today, but had it been issued no later than 2008 it would have cemented Arising Fear with the likes of Shadows Fall and As I Lay Dying. Aside a few songs that try to do too much or go a bit too mainstream, this is a flawless example of what made the early experimental period of the Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal and very brief Gothenburg genres so exciting and fresh. But, here we are in 2014, and there’s just nothing that unique presented here. While Beyond Betrayal is largely familiar territory any fan of Metal in the past seven to ten years will instantly recognize and associate to other established bands in the field, there’s no denying its executed exceptionally well. If you’re a fan of this style it’s worth checking out, though the music here is probably far more fun to experience live if the option of seeing Arising Fear perform were to arise.
01. Mantic Shape – 3:08
02. Beyond the Walls of Anger – 4:07
03. Deadly Embrace – 4:57
04. Day to Overcome – 3:30
05. Losing Sanity – 4:12
06. Final Redemption – 4:30
07. This Burden – 4:27
08. Come Alive Again – 5:11
09. Thrashing Brain Surgery – 7:31
10. Meltdown Rust – 6:23
|Initial Pressing Score: 7/10