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The Arsonist

Napalm (2013)
Rating: 7.5/10

While formed in 1997, metalcore band Deadlock didn’t find their feet until 2002 when their debut album The Arrival was released. It was the duo of the Earth.Revolt (2005) and Wolves (2007) albums that made the metal community stand up and take notice though, particularly with the latter’s electronic touches. 2008’s Manifesto and 2011’s underrated Bizarro World brought little fanfare though as metalcore waned in popularity.

The Arsonist finds the German band trying to reclaim their name after the departure of founding vocalist / lyricist Joe Prem and it does a good job of establishing Deadlock as a continued force.

The highlight here is rightfully the title track. Many people will likely argue this fact because it’s one of the least “metal” tracks on the album but clean vocalist Sabine Scherer sounds the best she ever has on it. Her vocals soar over the burnt growls and the song has a very melodic edge, burnt just enough by the mild electronics and bouncing guitars. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the Wolves material.

‘Hurt’ is another powerful moment, led gently into the storm by Scherer’s borderline symphonic vocals and an ever-so-subtle piano piece. It’s a dynamic beast, finally exploding about three-fourths of the way through the song in a Savatage-esque way. ‘The Great Pretender’ also takes its place among the album’s finest moments, launching the record from a bouncy but distinctly metal platform that has enough melody to catch your ear and enough heaviness to remind you that this isn’t pop rock. ‘My Pain’ has an epic feel to it, and a dance heavy backbeat that immediately sets it apart from the pack, fully embracing both sides of the band without reservation. I’d love to hear a whole album of songs like this.

While I really love a lot of this album, it has a handful of forgettable moments as well. The cover of Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ is fair to middling but it wasn’t that great of a song to start with. ‘Dead City Sleepers’ is another track that, although the album’s heaviest moment, just never manages to really gel with the listener in my opinion. ‘As We Come Undone’ suffers largely the same fate, although neither are “bad” per se.

Overall, this is probably Deadlock’s best album since Wolves, which I feel set the standard for metalcore at the time. It’s a bit choppy of a ride but there are more than enough great moments to warrant picking this one up. It has a much more solid direction than the band’s last album and just as many good songs.

Mark Fisher

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