Arbitrator – Indoctrination of Sacrilege Review

Arbitrator - Indoctrination of Sacrilege 01They say nine out of ten startup companies fail. Much of this has to do with the venture’s lack of resources and connections; failing to find the know-how and know-who before the money runs out. Being the founder and owner of two different companies, the number of grey hairs on my head (and beers in my gut) is directly proportional to the number of failed grant proposals, pitch competitions, and ass-kissing lunches/dinners with potential investors that just want a free steak from Outback. Traditional startups utilize a variety of funding avenues that include venture capital, “angel” investment, partnerships, or the all-too-common “3F” approach: friends, family, and fools. However, founder/songwriter/vocalist/guitarist/programmer Rob Kukula of Canada-based Arbitrator funded his band in the scariest way possible: personal funds. After three years, multiple jobs, shitloads of overtime, getting free services, Indoctrination of Sacrilege has finally seen the light of day. But will this self-funded and self-released project join the ranks of the 90% or will it survive the valley of death?

After a brief chat with Rob Kukula, I was impressed by his passion for this album, his ability to recruit the perfect band members, and smart purchasing skills. He did everything from cold-calling Dirk Verbeuren of Soilwork to play the drums on Indoctrination of Sacrilege to utilizing the services of Sacha Laskow (Perfect Fifth Studio) for mixing and Jens Bogren for mastering. The quality production is obvious as opener “They Will Worship This Fire of Agony” grows from an atmospheric intro into an almost Battalion Beast-era Panzerchrist recipe of crushing death riffage, deep-throated carnage, and atmospheric, keyboard backdrops. Add in samples and melodic passages and you have a near seven-minute song that acts as a good representation of what this anti-Christian, industrial death outfit is all about.

IoS follows a steady incline in songwriting quality – and song length – by introducing new elements to the boiler plate. “For That Which May Appease Lions” rips your face off with a ballistic attack of guitars and drums and ascends into a thick cloud of industrial atmosphere before landing on a platform stitched together with piano and melodic death that brings to mind Dark Tranquillity. Then it ascends again with a death-thrash build and headbangable brutality. But for how good this song is, follow-up track “Serpent of the Styx” tops it. Of the six tracks on IoS, it’s the most convincing and powerful. It carries many of the same elements as before, but is dripping with pure emotion. The march-like riffs are earth-shaking, Rob’s screams and growls make hairs stand on your neck, and the keys produce an air of atmospheric, melo-death before fading into sadness and despair. This track is the summit of the album.

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However, from the summit there must come the drop. “Profaned and Perfected” does a poor job of following “Serpent of the Styx.” It suffers from overuse of sampling, techno beats, and its seven-minute length is simply too long. While most of the songs are long, this one is particularly lengthy and, to a lesser extent, “Stillborn Bastard of the Nazarene” is a victim of the same crime. Following “Profaned and Perfected,” the three-ish minute instrumental closer is also a letdown. After this near 40-minute journey, I had hoped for a closer that would have blown the hinges off the door.

Regardless, this self-funded and self-released album is quite solid and the production is good despite the typical DM brickwalling. The balance of the instruments is superb and the transitions from full-on pounding riffs to melodic landscapes are highly effective. Even though disc and vinyl enthusiasts will have to settle with a digital version of this release, it is money well spent. If nothing else, buy it to help this dude pay his damn mortgage.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self Release
Websites: ArbitratorOfficial |
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 02.13.2015

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