Hola, folks! Pleased to my debut here in the Arsies after being a long time devotee. I gotta tell you, this is not an easy job to do when there are some top quality platters of metal we are serving up for you here. By the time they make it to the Arsies, they're all winners, folks! OK, here we go:
Today's competition pits prog metal sort-of-supergroup Soen vs New Jersey thrash kings Overkill! The magic coin flip puts Soen up first. Tellurian is prog in the pensive mood, and about half the album doesn't even classify as metal. The musicianship is top class, with Martin Lopez showing the jazzy, subtle drumwork for which he is rightfully known, some tasty lead bass by DiGiorgio replacement Stefan Stenberg, and solid, but not flashy guitar work by Kim Platbarzdis. Nice melodic vocal performance. Highlights include Pluton and, especially, the moody and atmospheric (well, I guess that could describe any song on the album) Void. Solid stuff, with a few memorable hooks.
Next, the mighty Overkill! White Devil Armory, despite the regrettably racially tinged title, shows the boys riding a resurgence beginning with the modern thrash classic Ironbound. While it does not reach those heights, it is heavy hitting out of the gate with the (almost) title track (c'mon, like you aren't singing "ARR-MORR-EEE, ARR-MORR-EEE!" in your head right now?), and doesn't let up for the rest of its running time. They stretch out a bit (at least for Overkill) with Bitter Pill and Freedom Rings, and give you some of the sweet D.D. backing vocals you love in Where There's Smoke There's Fire. This one shows a solid band firing on all cylinders—no one could accuse them of going through the motions on this one.
Particularly given my penchant for the prog metal, Soen's Tellurian should be the obvious winner. However, despite all its positive qualities (and there are many), Tellurian raises the question: how derivative can an album be and still be Arsies-caliber? Anyone who could listen to this album and not be constantly reminded of Tool and, especially, Opeth, for nearly the entire running time, is a better person than I. I've listened to it about five times, and I still can't! Sure, Martin Lopez was Opeth's drummer during their heyday, but last time I checked, he didn't play guitar or sing for them, so I don't think that explains why whole songs sound like Opeth bonus tracks! So, much to my surprise, and though I may regret it in the morning, this one is going to Overkill! Nice work, fellas.
Next up, it's Obscura drummer Hannes Grossmann's solo album against Cannibal Corpse.