Let’s get this out of the way now – the days when mixing samples and electronic music with your Metal was enough to make you different or “experimental” are long over. There’s still ground to be broken in this area, but it’s to do with how well those elements are integrated and made part of the song-writing, rather than just being there.
Arbitrator really want us to call them “Industrial Death Metal”, but on Indoctrination Of Sacrilege (Independent/self-released), that much-abused “I” word seems to mean nothing beyond some programmed drums, heavy use of samples and “atmospheric” synth passages. The use of electronic music and Dance elements in heavy, low-end Death Metal makes a comparison with The Monolith Death Cult hard for any lazy journalist to resist, and unfortunately for Arbitrator that comparison is not a flattering one. While their Dutch peers create a constant, ceaseless assault that jumps from torturous to comical as often as it moves between genres, Arbitrator go for a more sedentary, considered approach that initially seems boring or flat in comparison.
If this has been something of a roasting so far, then it’s not an entirely deserved one, and it’s time to flip the perspective a little. Once the lack of fireworks have been accounted for and expectations adjusted, there’s some effectively gloomy Death Metal, bordering on Doom in places, going on here. The band are tight and heavy, and have a good sense of dynamics that keeps their music thundering forward even when they bring the pace right down. The samples and electronic elements are largely well used – though they add little to the music, and have a tendency to fade into the background – and the album sustains an effective mood throughout.
Indoctrination Of Sacrilege is a competent, well-produced, entirely enjoyable album of atmospheric “Death Metal With Bits” from an unsigned band who may well achieve something genuinely worthwhile in their future, but as it stands is hard to get too excited about.