Sound — 10
Over the past 17 years, German melodic death metallers Deadlock have released 7 albums, each containing a style drastically different than its predecessor. "The Re-Arrival" is technically a "greatest hits" album, however this release goes above and beyond the typical "throw a few hits and a live recording or two on a disc and call it a day" mentality that plagues countless "greatest hits" albums to date. "The Re-Arrival," (the title is a... remix, so to speak, of their first album, "The Arrival.") contains 30 tracks, including 3 brand new songs and previously unreleased material. Instead of putting out just a clumsy playlist, the album features re-arranged, remixed, and re-recorded songs (notice the "re" theme?) implementing the new 7- and 8-string guitar sound, and the vocals of bassist-turned-new-vocalist, John Gahlert, and newcomer Werner Riedl on drums.
If you enjoy the low-frequency "djent" sound, then the remixed tracks are sure to please your palette. However, dissenters can take comfort in the fact that the original instrumentation and guitar riffage remain largely intact, simply augmented by the new style. Beyond this, the re-done tracks sound tighter, better engineered, and cleaner. The 3 new tracks are what make this album truly shine. "An Ocean's Monument," "A New Era," and "The Arsenic River," seamlessly blend every style implemented by Deadlock over their past releases. Electronics and orchestral elements are all positioned perfectly. Lead songwriter and only remaining member of the original lineup Sebastian Reichl, along with rhythm guitarist Ferdinand Rewicki have dialed back the overly djent-heavy crunch of "The Arsonist," into a mixture that conveys the low end djent punch without going overboard. Deadlock currently does not have a bassist, but the bass guitar is still represented fully on "The Re-Arrival."
After the departure of Tobias Graf, (a member of the original lineup) the role of percussionist was passed to Werner Riedl, who certainly does not disappoint. His style is noticeably different than that of Graf's, but still fits perfectly with the music. I prefer Graf's style, but Riedl was a wise choice in substitution. The drums are mixed well and in some tracks, such as "HTRAE," they really shine.
Since stepping up to the role of vocalist on "The Arsonist," John Gahlert's vocal work has been met with mixed reviews, to put it (very) nicely. Naysayers seem to forget that Gahlert has been the vocalist of Fall Of Serenity for years, without complaint. You can hear a twinge of his Fall Of Serenity style, but on this album his vocal work seems to be aimed at emulating former vocalist and founding member Johannes Prem. At times he comes close, but Prem is still on another tier entirely. Gahlert's work definitely feels much more refined on "The Re-Arrival," making use of a fuller, deeper technique and leaving the scratchiness heard on "The Arsonist" behind. Aside from the comparisons to Prem, Gahlert's unique sound is a welcome alternative to the dime-a-dozen metalcore vocalists.
As usual, clean vocalist Sabine Scherer's work is flawless. It sounds like less processing was used on her voice for most of the remixed tracks, which I believe gives them a more organic timbre. However, in some rare instances it sounds as if a little bit of depth (for the song as a whole) has been lost.
The previously unreleased material on Disc 2 is a stark contrast to the band's current, refined sound. The "Insist" demo tape and the unreleased tracks from the self-titled 7" vinyl are pure hardcore. Raw, scratchy, fast-paced hardcore. Like it or not, the inclusion of so many unreleased tracks is rare even for high-profile greatest hits collections. Other previously released tracks include representation from their split EP with Six Reasons To Kill, the "I'll Wake You, When Spring Awakes..." EP, and selections from "The Arrival," and "Earth.Revolt." Also included is a cover of Running Wild's "When Time Runs Out," and an unreleased acoustic version of "Awakened by Sirens."
Lyrics — 9
There isn't much to be said about the lyrical content of this album that hasn't been said before, considering the majority of the album is remixes of previously released material. None of the lyrics have been changed, and while I may have tweaked a few phrases here or there, I respect the decision to leave them intact. The unreleased tracks mostly reflect vegan themes, while the brand-new songs continue the trend of presenting powerful topics (in this case, the destruction of the environment) through underwhelming lyrical content.
Overall Impression — 10
"The Re-Arrival" sets the bar for what a greatest hits collection should be, whether you like the music or not. The re-tooled tracks sound great with the new style, the previously unreleased songs are a great bonus, and the new songs are the epitome of what modern melodic death metal should sound like. Within these 3 new tracks, lie the perfect synthesis of all of Deadlock's previous styles. If the next album is even half as good as these three tracks, it just might be their greatest work. I wouldn't even mind hearing those same 3 tracks again on a future release. Other highlights include "Awakened by Sirens 2014," which has been reworked the most, and "Code of Honor," featuring guest vocalist Marcus Bischoff from Heaven Shall Burn. My only complaint with this album is a relatively small one. In the ballad "To Where the Skies Are Blue," you can hear various studio clicks and bumps. The original version sports these annoyances too, so I can't help but wonder if they were put there on purpose as some sort of joke. I find them very distracting, but at least there are only a few.
No fan of Deadlock should pass on this album, and if you are a fan of melodic death metal or modern metal, this album is definitely worth checking out.