Deadlock - The Arsonist
Napalm Records
Melodic Death/Pop Metal
10 songs (39' 43")
Release year: 2013
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Andy

Deadlock's sound is rather hard to get into, if one doesn't like pop metal; their latest, The Arsonist, is poppy to the point that I almost chucked it in disgust as mallcore. But their melodies can be catchy, the groove riffs are not horrible, and best of all, there is no rap and almost no techno on the album (which has not, unfortunately, always been the case in the past). While its genre isn't one I particularly love, after a few listens I've decided that I can review it on its own merits.

The groove parts are what first grab one's attention, and that might not be a good thing, as the first track is not a particularly spectacular introduction to the album. Its riffs aren't amazing, both male and female vocals seem somewhat forced, and the recording is somewhat overproduced, but the guitarist does seem to be trying; he also puts some keyboard behind some of the guitar parts, but the guitar tends to drown most of that part out in the mix unless one is looking for it. I'm Gone sounds somewhat more natural, and frontwoman Sabine Scherer puts in a decent performance melodically, though for some reason some of her vocal parts have a digital "techno diva" effect pasted on them in this track, which is both uninspired and rather unnecessary. She does an even better job on Dead City Sleepers, which is probably one of the best songs on the album. Its melody is good, and the male death-metal vocals from bassist/singing partner John Gahlert goes well with her vocals (which doesn't happen on every track).

The next few tracks, including the title track, the other hand, are pretty forgettable, but Hurt, an introspective, mostly distortion-free ballad sung solely by Scherer, suffers not at all from its lack of heaviness. Deadlock seems to do their best when they lay aside the attempts at extreme metal, which they are not particularly good at, and just focus on writing melodic songs with a bit of distortion. The Final Storm is like that too -- though it does have plenty of groove metal, it has some symphonic effects and a very catchy chorus hook that I enjoyed. Their main problem is that the songwriting is still inconsistent -- when one gets a song that's fairly decent, the next track sounds like album filler, all the way to the end of the album.

This still seems to be a step in the right direction for the band. We panned their 2008 album, Manifesto, for relying on techno at the expense of songwriting; well, now they've paid some more attention to songwriting and gotten rid of the techno, so how can we fault them for that? There are a few songs on The Arsonist that metal listeners who don't like pop metal can still genuinely enjoy, and if one ignores Deadlock's worst dance/pop impulses, which still do surface from time to time, it makes for an above-average listen.

Killing Songs :
Dead City Sleepers, Hurt, The Final Storm
Andy quoted 62/ 100
Other albums by Deadlock that we have reviewed:
Deadlock - Manifesto reviewed by Pete and quoted 41 / 100
Deadlock - Wolves reviewed by Ben and quoted 70 / 100
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