This is one of the most cherished and worshiped metal albums of all time. It is also one of the most over-fucking-hyped snore-fests you'll ever endure, as well.
After gaining global prominence with 1989's stellar 'Beneath the Remains', all eyes were on Sepultura. When this album was released I remember digging it. The aggression's there. There's really nothing "gay" or weak about it and a few songs here and there are actually "almost" among their best. It wasn't until a few months down the road that I realized that this album is a total fucking bore. Every riff repetitively plays at a predictive and evenly numbered pattern which begins to wear thin on my brain, not to mention that after the first two or three tracks the album begins to steer off course and go absolutely nowhere. Also, there's something about the production that wears thin. For its time, this was a state of the art production job that ranked among the better works of Terry Date and Fleming Rasmussen, yet that is in all likelihood wherein lies the fatal flaw. Had 'Arise' been christened with the same sound as 'Beneath the Remains', it may have retained a bit of a desperate sounding edge instead of coming across as lazy and too comfortable sounding.
As much as people viciously cry and stamp their little feet over 'Roots' and everything afterward, I must say that starting with 'Chaos A.D.' onward, my interest in the band was fully renewed and I found them at their best when they were engrossed in all of the tribal experimentation and the slower, heavier riff fests that filled the confines of those albums. This may be the album that truly gave them critical acclaim but in my mind this was a creative dead end and they needed an album like 'Chaos A.D.' to pull them out of the mire of stagnation.
Max's vocals are actually a little better on this album than the last, which is one of, perhaps the only improvement from that release. His voice sounded a little shot on 'Beneath the Remains' and it was good to hear him sound a little more venomous and rejuvenated this time around. Igor is also in top shape on this album. Anyone who's followed Sepultura's career since the Morbid Visions days can attest that Igor Cavalera's drum expertise had improved by leaps and bounds from that album to this. Night and fucking day. Unfortunately, again, the riffs are just not that engaging. Not even in terms of a simplistic groove. The actual thrashier, busier riffs are unbelievably dull and the only other album that I can compare this to as far as excruciatingly boring songs are concerned is Obituary's 'The End Complete'. Maybe it was a Roadrunner thing. Who knows?