The Godly Work of Art

Hot on the heels of Carnal Forge, The Forsaken and nearly every other band in Sweden rocking to the success of At The Gates comes Alingsas-based Arise. Admittedly, I would have instantly liked The Godly Work of Art, say, two years back, but as more and more bands appropriate the upper echelons of Swedish death, the more complacent the entire scene appears, even if many of these bands are spot-on players and semi-qualified songwriters.

Arise suffers the same fate as their peers on The Godly Work of Art: recycled riffs and similarly pilfered atmospherics are on display here, and while they sound incredible to a first-time listener, the fact remains At The Gates performed this with more soul, intent and energy. It’s that simple. The first three tracks of The Godly Work of Art are so inherently At The Gates (circa Slaughter of the Soul) that you’d swear guitarist Erik Ljungqvist and L-G Jonasson simply reworked ‘Under a Serpent Sun’ and ‘Blinded By Fear’ and stamped with their own seal of approval by adding Hypocrisy (circa Abducted) mid-paced grooves. The opening title track does a commendable job at merging all of the above by bridging the verses with either a blastbeat or a Carcass-styled (circa Heartwork) solo, which works to Arise’s advantage in this instance. Unfortunately, it’s high-performance melodic death without much individuality as a track like ‘Within’ also demonstrates. The song’s main riff is infectious and smartly assembled, but the hook only lasts so long before that uncomfortable feeling of ‘I’ve heard this before’ sets in. Even ‘Within’s’ smattering of Bay Area (read: Testament, Exodus) influence compounds the fact Arise aren’t working from a palette entirely their own.

Despite the above-par performance, the band’s youth is on display here, too. Cuts like ‘Haterush,’ ‘Abducted Intelligence,’ and ”And the Truth is Lies’ are simply running through the motions second tier bands (insert name here) established five years ago. With sections of originality (such as the soloing; strange clean picking) peering through the mediocrity on more than one occasion, Arise do have original thoughts inside the songwriting collective. ‘Cellbound’ and the very riff-intensive ‘Wounds’ are the best tracks on the album as it’s in these songs that the quartet signal a brighter, less-dependent-on-their-influences future. The element of At The Gates is present but not nearly as strong ‘ ‘Cellbound’s’ fast harmonies, thrash metal sensibilities and technical prowess make for one killer cut; ‘Wounds’ is a comparatively slower song with sections of massive chugging and blues-tinged spikes.

The Godly Work of Art closes with a cover of Metallica’s ‘Motorbreath,’ which I find a little out of context. Metallica covers aren’t exactly an exciting proposition ‘ even this one. Personally, I feel Arise could be more if they really focused less on what others are doing (or have done) and presented the scene with an album that not only kills in its intensity but is smart about it. Think about it, if Slaughter of the Soul wasn’t so painstakingly crafted, perhaps a band such as Arise wouldn’t necessarily exist in the form its in. How many bands imitated Slayer and are still around to reap the metallic rewards? Not a one.

The Godly Work of Art does have it fair share of redeeming qualities (outlined above) and should please non-discriminate Swedish death connoisseurs, but I’m hard-pressed to give the album more than a sidelong glance.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
November 1st, 2001


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