Sound — 8
Deadlock is a band that has never written the same album twice, and "The Arsonist" is no exception. The addition of 7 and 8-string guitars bring an unexpected but unique twist to sound that nobody was really expecting to begin with. I like to think of each Deadlock album as an "evolution" from the last, and "The Arsonist" has evolved into an innovative, experimental melodic death metal Odyssey that some will enjoy, but others will surely revile. Fans of Deadlock should be expecting change, but this album has made changes in some of the right places, and some of the wrong. The electronics have been better syncopated to the music this time around, but some of the true guitar riffage has been substituted in favor of heavier notes on the 8-string. Drums are stellar as always, especially in such tracks as "I'm Gone," and "Darkness Divine." The overall sound of this album is one I have not heard from other melodic death metal acts and is one that really needs to be experienced.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrically, Deadlock has not been very powerful, but their overarching album themes have always been meaningful. The album carries a very pyrotechnic ambiance that conveys a breakdown of modern society, almost as if it was meant to be a prequel to "Earth.Revolt." Former bassist John Gahlert has since taken the place of former growler Johannes Prem, and while he certainly brings his own unique sound to the table, it could be argued that he is not in the same tier as Prem. Gahlert's vocals are a little clearer than Prem's, and I do enjoy them, but fans of Jo Prem will be left wanting. As always, the soaring vocals of Sabine Scherer tie in perfectly with the melody and brutality that is "The Arsonist." Scherer gives a near-flawless performance that tops her already impressive past works, and the ballad "Hurt" is definitively the best ballad on any Deadlock album.
Overall Impression — 8
"The Arsonist" is an album that really can't be compared to much because of how wildly experimental it is. Fans of new In Flames or Animals As Leaders should feel right at home, and I don't think Deadlock fans will have any trouble adjusting. Highlights from this album include "I'm Gone," which features a relatively simple guitar riff made unique by superb drumwork, and "The Final Storm" Which utilizes fast-paced growling and some of the "true riffage" that fans of earlier albums may be longing for. Additionally, "Hurt" is by far the best ballad (featuring a surprise I will not spoil) and the Bronski Beat cover "Small Town Boy," is a great example of a genre-swapped cover done right. My favorite things about this album include the ever-present orchestral mastery, the re-tooled electronics, and of course the instrumental mastery of lead guitarist Sebastian Reichl and the unbelievable clean vocals of Sabine Scherer. What holds this album back is, (as I have mentioned before) a lack of true guitar riffage. The stimulating riffs seen in past songs such as "Virus Jones" from the album "Bizarro World" or "Slaughter's Palace" from "Manifesto" are sparse, and while I am a fan of breakdowns when they are done right, I can not endorse those found in "The Arsonist." They haven't really attempted them before and I kind of hope they don't again. If this album were stolen, I wouldn't even mind, but not for the reason you are thinking. Hopefully whoever has stolen it will enjoy the experimental journey of modern melodic death metal created by Deadlock, and come back for more. As for me, I'd stroll down to the record store and pickup another.