Artist: In Dying Arms
Album: Original Sin
No matter what you believe or where you’re from, you are born into this world with a burden. Some religions will tell you it can be absolved—that you can be born again—but that’s far from true. The unkind truth is that this burden never fades; rather it grows, a black speck that expands, casting shadow over your heart and your mind. Before you get too old, it takes over your mind, as the original sin you were born bearing becomes who you are, in spite of struggle or religious attempts at catharsis. Ultimately, the only thing you can do is give in—which is precisely the sound of In Dying Arms’ long awaited full length release, Original Sin. In laymen’s terms, Original Sin is honestly, earnestly wicked: a release that delights in shaving skin and flesh from bone, the purest soundtrack to human suffering. Combining raunchy, aggressive deathcore with catchy grooves, brain-melting riffs and rare moments of soaring clean vocals, Original Sin is a comprehensive deathcore release well worth the wait In Dying Arms have been taunting the heavy music community with.
In Dying Arms’ previous releases—while strong displays of heavy musicianship—were never shining examples of instrumental proficiency. Note the use of “were,” as Original Sin puts that notion to bed before the release even hits it’s half-way point. In Dying Arms prove they are masters not just of straightforward deathcore, but of technically-tinted heaviness as well as groovy and melodic song structures. The album’s title track is about as “generic” as Original Sin gets—a blunt and to-the-point lecture in lurid brutality—while tracks like “Kingslayer” and “Skeleton Queen” see the band embracing a much more technical and complex dynamic. “Kingslayer” in particular sees percussionist Alvin Richardson at the top of his game—toggling between tedious fills and tremendous, pulverizing kick drum patterns. With hurried hands and fleet feet, Richardson soars during a vast majority of Original Sin, slowing only for more melodic moments like those in “Stand Up (For What You Believe),” where he synchronizes beautifully with bassist Terence Bright. Bright spends a majority of his time in the background—staying close to Richardson’s racing kick drum to add heft and punch to every smack. However “Stand Up,” as well as “Blackwater” and “Dreamcatcher” see him working independently of Richardson, serving to help bridge the gap between percussion and the riffs and grooves from guitarists Christian Becker and John Myers. Becker and Myers—more so than on any previous release—absolutely shine on Original Sin. “Absence of Shame” is a groovy, grisly track with a soft, gooey core—while “Kingslayer” channels Enterprise Earth (for good reason, with Watson’s guest appearance) for a sharper, more technical edge. Becker and Myers are as talented and diverse as they are ruthless; and with world ending breakdowns like those in “Original Sin” and “Parasite,” their thirst for violence is one thing that goes completely unquestioned.
Where In Dying Arms have always had a solid reputation for their musicianship, their vocal element has always been widely praised as well above average. True enough—with 2011’s Deprivation—frontman Orion Stephens was close to becoming a household name. To say that nothing has changed would be a bold faced lie—as Stephens’ skill as skyrocketed, with his performance on Original Sin bound to make him appear on countless best-of lists when it comes for deathcore vocalists. From the first syllables on “Original Sin,” to his tete-a-tete with Dan Watson on “Kingslayer,” Stephens is, simply, one of the best vocalists out there. His highs are sharp, piercing and powerful—while his lows are visceral and just muddy enough to make the listener’s bowels quiver. What’s more is Stephens’ collaboration with clean vocalist Becker, who adds even more variety to the epic adventure that is Original Sin. While he doesn’t appear on every track, the ones Becker does rear his head on are made that much more surprising, often causing the listener to check and make sure they’re still listening to the same band. Becker’s voice is clear and crisp without being corny or auto-tuned beyond recognition—making his choruses and bridges welcome to all, even skeptics of clean singing in heavy music.
Original Sin is twelve tracks (well, eleven and an intro) of uncompromising, unrelenting aggression. Even more relaxed moments like the chorus to “Blackwater” still come with an undertone of aggression, where Richardson’s bouncy kick drum keeps bruising the listener’s battered flesh. Sure enough, there will be skepticism—especially where Becker’s voice makes some surprise appearances. However, a majority of those skeptical thoughts will be crushed by the groovy, gritty heaviness that sandwiches every moment of serene singing—as bouncy patterns like those that dot “Blackwater” and “Caught in the Balance” are astounding enough to make veteran djent bands blush. In Dying Arms have crafted a brilliant release that leaves no fan of heavy music in want: there are moments of profound peace (rare moments, but they exist all the same) that nosedive into segments of spine-shredding brutality, brought on by breakdowns that redefine brutality. A contemporary display of brilliant songwriting with a moderate dose of late-2000’s deathcore, Original Sin is a towering testament to In Dying Arms’ exceptional skill and creativity—and what’s more is that sinning has honestly never felt so good.
For Fans Of: Enterprise Earth, Whitechapel, Suicide Silence, Chelsea Grin
By: Connor Welsh