Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Arsis - Unwelcome

The American technical death band Arsis really gave us the surprise with their last album, Starve for the Devil. Well, the 2012 Leper’s Caress EP gave us a possible little taste of what the next full-length might have to offer; and it turns out that it did. It did to the point to where they re-recorded one of the songs from the EP to use on the new album. Well, after numerous worldwide tours with Firewind, The Agonist, Krisiun, Arch Enemy (I saw that tour), in support of Starve for the Devil, Arsis are back with Unwelcome. So the long of the short of it would be, it seems as if Arsis have gone back to their regular sound that can be heard on all of their other albums, EXCEPT for a few things from Starve for the Devil that are still hanging around.

Looks like we’re taking things back to the pre-Starve for the Devil days, which is what everyone loves. But there are some things that have left their sound that they’re known for. One of those things is the technicality. Don’t get me wrong, this is still Arsis-level complexity, but it’s not quite as crazy and out of control like it always has been. Most of the technicality is in the drums, leaving the guitars a bit more tame (which is an overstatement because they’re still crazy as fucking hell). The fuzzy guitar distortion from A Celebration of Guilt has been brought back, although it sounds a bit more refined and cleaner since it’s being released under the mighty Nuclear Blast.

The drums just seem to get more and more ridiculous with each release (with the exception of A Diamond for Disease EP from 2005). My favorite part about this particular album is the drumming. It’s almost like some sort of controlled chaos, because the drummer manages to go absolutely mad with the weirdest blast beats and fills while still keeping perfect time and even falling into sections where there’s almost nothing but just pure fast double-kicking.

The guitar solos are also much different. Before, there weren’t that many guitar solos to begin with, then, on Starve for the Devil, it’s like they turned into Revocation and just blasting out epic solo after epic solo. Each of them being over-the-top crazy and ridiculously technical and fast. The whole soloing aspect is still a big part of Unwelcome, but the solos themselves are much, much calmer and have a less-epic melody to help match the darker sound of the album. Also, the guitar solos help bring out how surprisingly melodic the music on this album is. The darkness and the technicality tends to cover up the unique melodies that each song holds, which is why the guitar solos are there to help expose those melodies.

I have to admit, the vocals on Unwelcome have more energy and anger than any other Arsis record. This is the biggest improvement they’ve made on this album. James Malone’s sandpaper screams combined with the fuzziness of the complex guitars fit together just as perfectly as they did in 2004; except this time, the vocals are much harsher. Arsis are continuing to evolve their sound without getting ahead of themselves or getting overly repetitive. They’re doing perfect as a band. Unwelcome is still an Arsis album, but it brings in new sounds that keep the music fresh and interesting. Once again, Arsis have released a very strong and above-average record that gets my score of 16/20.