The 2014 Arsies: January 14, 2014

January 14, 2014

Listen to today's competitors on Spotify

Awww yeah. Crowd favorites Amon Amarth win the opportunity to go first (and predictably dedicate this to Odin). So we start the day with the rollicking title track to Deceiver Of The Gods. Things start off strongly for Amon Amarth, as the album dutifully gallops heavily through Norse mythology. But about four songs in, the overall pallor of the collection starts to make itself known. The riffs here are less inspired than on Surtur Rising, the lyrics a little more embarrassing (well, more embarrassing than normal). As a cumulative effect, this iteration of Amon Amarth sounds more like Dethklok than I'm comfortable with. And while the threat of Nordic caricature has never been too distant for the band, on Deceiver Of The Gods it blossoms into a ripe fruit.
We turn now to Karnivool. The band has historically occupied the same kind of genrespace that Tool has: broody and intelligent, but not really all that metal. With a small handful of exceptionally aggressive-for-them tracks (including A M War), their third album, Asymmetry, exhibits the same style. Asymmetry also invests a lot of its (and the listener's) time with atmosphere and mood. Good thing, too: this album's great strength is its cohesion and dissidence. You can hear this in the aggressive tone of the some of the guitars and almost all of the bass, in Ian Kenny's gorgeous and unorthodox vocal melodies, even in the syncopated china cymbal splashes in the second half of We Are. Every bit of this album so memorable, right down to the few soundscaping interludes that feel like filler, as well as the clearly exhausted final third. These issues are not as fatal as those facing Amon Amarth, so Karnivool's art house surliness earns them an improbable win today.
Tomorrow, we'll have a decidedly more traditional metal slugfest: Razormaze against Hatesphere.

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