If you speak to the right people there are always good, often great things said about any new and emerging band. The confirmation is always only in the music of course and just as often as words are proven, anticipation is left in unintended deceit. Arbitrator since the release of The Consummate Ascendancy EP in 2011 has been a band often talked up and recommended from certainly Canadian and North American sources. Their debut album Indoctrination of Sacrilege is our introduction to the quartet and all promise and suggestions of their growing might have been convincingly proven.
Indoctrination of Sacrilege is a beast of a release, an intensively atmospherically soaked death metal bred proposition which from making an impressive first impression grows into one striking and fascinating theatre of imagination. Fusing in textures and essences from electro and industrial climates to progressive and ambient flavouring, the six track release engulfs and stirs ears and thoughts with skilled and increasingly rewarding adventure. The band itself is the brainchild of Robert Kuklaand, its emergence starting in 2010 and announced by the release of The Consummate Ascendancy the following year. It was an acclaimed proposal from the band but just a tester in many ways for the exploratory might of Indoctrination of Sacrilege. With a line-up of Myles Malloy (lead guitar), Connor ORT Linning (programming), and Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren (ex-Devin Townsend Project, ex-Aborted) alongside Kuklaand (rhythm guitar, bass, vocals), Arbitrator put themselves forward now as one of the more intriguing and exciting progressive death metal prospects. They also still feel like they are still only just scratching the first few layers of their potential despite the weight and success of their album, a potential and prospect of even greater things ahead quite exciting.
The Sacha Laskow (ex-Divinity, Every Hour Kills) produced and Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy) mastered album, swiftly has the imagination engaged as the entrance of opener They Will Worship This Fire of Agony comes through scenery of portentous bells and death feasting flies as church seeded chants seemingly offering final guidance as a dark pestilential cloud looms nearer and nearer. That sonic threat is realised a muscular wall of riffs and punchy rhythms veined by enchanting keys. It is an immediately incendiary and compelling persuasion enhanced by the guttural growls of Kuklaand and spicy persistent grooves. Samples are soon briefly mingling with the cavernous presence and intimidation of the song too but it is the infectious hooks and melodic winery which most captivates against the evolving and enlarging drama of the keys. It is an imposing and enthralling encounter, and as the album subsequently shows itself to be, a pleasingly unpredictable one.
The potent start to the album is solidly continued by Stillborn Bastard of The Nazarene, it straight away binding the appetite with intensive riffs and rhythmic swings whilst thoughts are provoked by its atmospheric colouring. Kuklaand again impresses as he binds words and syllables with a gripping impassioned tenacity which provides additional potent focal points amidst many on release and track. Samples and keys again paint additional inciting scenes in the ferocious and threatening landscape of the song, though it is the superb melodic enterprise of Malloy which steals more of the glory.
Through each song the album just gets better and creatively bigger, the next up For That Which May Appease Lions unleashing black hearted rock ‘n’ roll in a hellacious offering of grooved and addictive contagion aligned to corrosive and oppressive malevolence. The track transfixes from its first moments, the predatory nature and sound of the bass a delicious stalking within the maelstrom of rancor whilst clean vocals add a different shade of temptation to the voracious soundscape. Keys and guitar endeavour similarly vein the tempest with their own unique and engrossing narratives, everything seamlessly flowing and combining together to enslave ears and imagination. Unpredictability is rife across the track, and reveals more twists and subtle ideation with every listen, an exciting trait just as potent in Serpent of The Styx. The song’s electronic opening is a melodic drift of keys and radiant melodies yet it all comes with a solemn and melancholic charm courted by a slowly brewing dark side. An eruption of that heavy menace is eventually unleashed yet the song still continues to radiate melodic expression within a web of carnivorous grooves and enjoyably volatile rhythms. There is also a cinematic ambience to the track, its ‘warmer’ and calmer moments apocalyptic in suggestion as the track’s muscular and rabid side trespasses and challenges the senses. As its predecessor, the track is a mouth-watering incitement which just gets more addictive and anthemic with every passing minute, hook, and barbarous swing from Verbeuren.
Profaned and Perfected whilst not quite matching the heights of the previous two tracks, has its own persuasive agenda of spiny grooves and spiky beats to contemplate, and an anthemic swing to drool profusely over. It is an out and out death metal ravishment but also one unafraid to explore warmer climes through the often spellbinding invention of the industrial spiced keys and climactic guitar. The song is still a bruising and commanding predator keeping body and emotions invigorated and fearful before the ‘epilogue’ like instrumental adventure of The Burning Sands of His Kingdom brings the album to a fine close. The electronically driven piece draws a cold and stark wasteland yet equally suggests hope with its melodically epic and intimately expressive tones within rugged scenery.
Over a handful of listens in and there is still more revelations coming forward within songs as Indoctrination of Sacrilege continues to reward, that in itself a strong reason with the diversity of sound and invention to check the album out. Wrapped in the excellent artwork of Colin Marks (Exodus, Scar Symmetry, Jeff Loomis), the release has been suggested for fans of Bloodbath, Dismember, and The Project Hate but also it is easy to suggest that those with a taste for bands such as Opeth, Mercyful Fate, and Escapethecult could do far worse than taking a plunge into Arbitrator and their first album.
Indoctrination of Sacrilege is available from February 13th @ http://arbitratorofficial.bandcamp.com/album/indoctrination-of-sacrilege
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