ARA – Jurisprudence

ARA – Jurisprudence

Technical bands such as Suffocation, Cryptopsy or Deeds Of Flesh took the death metal genre to new highs showing that brutality does not have to come at the expense of melody, while Anata proved that melody and brutality can coexist in equal measure for a great result. Now the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Ara, who had already turned heads with their "The Blessed Sleep" EP (2012) and the debut album "Devourer Of Worlds" (2014) are ready to tie all the strings together for a new sound, where brutality is definitely the prevailing factor but not to the point of needlessly exhausting the unsuspecting listener who, in turn, gets to enjoy some tasty hooks and, yes, distinct, mostly dissonant, melodies.

Just one look at the very clever, sarcastic and suggestive cover tells me two things: 1. someone is not too happy about the way the U.S. courts are run nowadays (what with the skulls of judges spread on a red carpet in a creepy cellar, their tongues pierced with large nails) and 2. the cover is a perfect graphic representation of the music, as what Adam Bujny (vocals), Jerry Hauppa (rhythm and lead guitar), James Becker (bass, vocals), Erik Stenglein (drums, lead guitar) have made on "Jurisprudence" is immensely brutal. In fact, some people may not enjoy it precisely because of its brutality, but if you are familiar with, and enjoy Cryptopsy’s "None So Vile", "Whisper Supremacy" or "…And Then You’ll Beg" this is very much in the same vein, as evident on "Ashen" or "Abhortion", with "Cytokine Storm" the least accessible track. The brutality is reinforced by incorporating the uncompromising sound of Hate Eternal’s "Fury And Flames" (Mythos) and early Ulcerate (title track).

Once again, "Jurisprudence" is not for the faint of heart. But once you get used to the chaos and constant barrage you’ll start hearing dissonant melodies highly reminiscent of Anata’s "The Conductor’s Departure", most notably on the favorite, the fantastic "Etymologicide". And the melody does not just come from Anata, as Death’s "Human" rocks the foundations of "Pounded Into The Multiverse", which, at times, borders on melodeath, while the opener "Ashen" brings In Mourning to mind, and is it In Flames’ "Food For The Gods" i hear in "Mythos"?

I can actually picture Ara’s dilemma: get too melodic and you’ll get branded melodeath then shelved with the genre purveyors by the clueless critics. So first and foremost, like Ulcerate or Cryptopsy, you must blind, deafen and make mute with brutality whoever comes near your material so that your undeniable skill, innovation and creativity will emerge as one engages the senses. This is why Ara’s 2nd album is such a brutal affair and I understand. But I wish they had taken more progressive risks as in the exceptional "Etymologicide" or "Pounded into the Multiverse", as, all too often a hook or a melody is so sudden and brief if you blink you might miss it.

I recommend "Jurisprudence" album primarily to brutal death fans, secondarily to technical death fans and lastly to fans of innovative death metal with melody, hoping this is merely a promising beginning of the future phenomenon called Ara. After all, Ulcerate wasn’t built with two records, either, and look where they are today.