Arnion - Fall like rain 1.5/5
2. Visions from hell
4. Get ready for the war
5. Fall like rain
6. Regreat be healed
7. Manipulacao S.A.
9. Human holocaust
10. Renascitur ex cineribus
11. Whitened graves
Brazilian thrash – it sounded promising enough. I mean, those Brazilians knock out some pretty good thrash from time to time, right? Even the song titles, as I scanned down the tracklist, looked pretty promising – “Visions from hell”, “Zombies” - so far so good.
“Visions from hell” begins the CD at quite a sedate pace, not exactly the thrash rampage I was expecting, but things were sure to pick up. After all, bands sometimes try to catch the listener out by not sticking the fastest song right at the beginning “Zombies”, however, continues in more or less the same vein and... wait, did he just say something about Jesus Christ? Well, it was probably just something about turning the cross upside down, right?
Wrong. A word that sums this whole thrice-damned CD up pretty well, actually; wrong.
Let it be known that I don’t find Christian lyrics in metal to be inherently a bad thing – Rob Rock spins some pretty good yarns out of biblical tales, and even Helloween’s occasional dalliances into “Jesus loves you” territory are harmless. It actually takes something extra special for lyrics to affect my enjoyment of music in any way at all, but Arnion have managed to do it in style.
Religion, much as I consider it all to be a grand nonsense the human race should have outgrown long ago when we came to the realisation that every culture since the dawn of time has created its own interchangeable invisible superbeings, the choice of what to believe is a deeply personal one, and so too should be the practice of said belief. The exact opposite, in other words, to the militant, in-your-face facet of Christianity Arnion subscribe to.
I’ll never understand the mindset among people my age it takes to seize onto something so ancient and ultimately well meaning and attempt to twist it into yet another divisive, ‘us vs. them’ diatribe, but that’s an argument for another day.
The whole thing would maybe be more tolerable of course if the music wasn’t a mind-numbing meeting of the average and the downright bad. The pace rarely picks up from the opening track, and in fact abandons all pretences of pure thrash on a few tracks, instead embracing lunk-headed groove thuggery and squeaky-clean metalcore tripe.
The only blessing (whoops) is that Pedro Neto’s weak guttural vocals render a lot of what he is singing unintelligible, but, like a moth constantly banging its head against a light bulb, I inexplicably find myself drawn back to the booklet again and again to see just what it is he’s gibbering on about. These trips to the lyrics sheet reveal subtle, poetic snippets such as “Say their happy, but are empty, empty without God” and “They’re all dead and blind, don’t know the real truth, adore the one who make (sic) slaves”. Well thanks, but to quote no one in particular, I didn’t come here to be insulted. Have your own beliefs all you want, just don’t go around telling everyone else how worthless their own lives are without them.
Getting onto the music itself, and “Get ready for the war” is about the only song that has the potential to be a pretty good thrash tune, the only one to properly shake out of the midtempo lethargy, and featuring some impressive guitar solos. It all comes to a comical end though when guest performer (and current guitarist) Rafael Teles lets rips with a big, overwrought, Bullet For My St Valentine clean vocal passage to the effect of “Open your heart for the words of God”. My first reaction to this was to burst into a fit of laughter, and it hasn’t eased off too much with the loss of the element of surprise.
After the opening few songs show flashes of thrashing here and there though, the CD just seems to get harder and harder to listen to, as the lyrics and increasingly non-thrash elements just keep coming thick and fast. “Manipulacao S.A.” is one of the worst offenders in terms of repetitive, unimaginative groove riffing, but at least the lyrics are in Portuguese (hey, maybe it’s about the people of South America having an alien religion foisted upon them by the Conquistadors... then again, maybe not).
So in the end what Arnion have delivered on their debut is some staggeringly average pseudo-thrash, wrapped in a neat little bow of some farcically bigoted lyrics. If you don’t follow their rules you’ll be excluded from their little gentlemen’s club and be sent to a burning pit while demons torture you for the rest of eternity – and they’ll probably have ‘Fall like rain’ on repeat while they're doing it.
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