Arsis
Starve for the Devil


3.0
good

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
February 5th, 2010 | 119 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Virginia's Arsis step up the melody and lower the technical aspects of their music.

Technical death metal band Arsis have returned this year with their new album Starve For The Devil. As it turns out, the title is actually a reference to guitarist James Malone’s battle with anorexia, and as such, some of the lyrics from this year’s outing deviate into the topic of his personal battles--see 80s-styled “Forced To Rock”, “From Soulless to Shattered (Art of Dying)”, or highlight “Beyond Forlorn”. Sonically speaking, however, the Virginians are probably going to delight, as well as aggravate, a number of their fans with this new album. While impressive leads and guitar solos return from guitar heroes James and Nick Cordle, the technical landscapes of 2004’s A Celebration of Guilt and the band's later releases are noticeably missing from the mix this time out. In their place, Arsis have thrown in a blackened-esque thrash element as a special surprise for fans. Suffice it to say, it sounds like the band have traveled back in time twenty years to craft this album.

I’m not going to criticize the band for their sudden change in agenda; however, I am going to critique how well it works out in a sound recording. Whereas, in the past, technical death metal, with a bit of melody thrown in, ruled the day for Arsis, it seems these two elements of their sound have been switched around in relation to their ratios in the sound mix. Sing-a-longs are now in full play, which can be good, I suppose, and when guitar solos do happen to turn up--see finale “Sable Rising” or the fret spinner on “Sick Perfection” for excellent examples--they tend to be more enjoyable since there isn’t as many of them this time around, and they're not as long in their length, to saturate the music.

The main problem with Starve For The Devil comes in the way of laughable lyrics that, while not terrible for most extreme forms of metal, when coupled with a heavy dose of melody, causes listeners to laugh a bit too much when they should be head-banging away. Take for instance “Forced to Rock” where Mr. Malone gives us his best, power metal impression: ’Forced to rock! Rebellion, rebellion / In the name of Devil, starve / To embrace our sins with all we are / In the name of Satan, we are forced to rock!’. You might want to cut out the 80s hard rock, Arsis. If I ever feel the urge to go listen to AC/DC or Black Sabbath, I’ll just go digging through my dad’s album collection. Also, the abundance of ‘starving’ references quickly where’s thin--’A march for the sick, starving for control’, ’A starving withered statue’, ’The starving statue’, ’Let’s starve for the Devil’, and so on and so on throughout the album. Once again, this wouldn’t matter so much if the lyrics were featured on Arsis’ previous offerings, but given the increased melodic tendencies of the music and an overall catchy nature, the monotony stands out as a prevalent sore on Starve For the Devil that one just can't ignore.

So we have laughable lyrics, a downsizing in the technicality of the music, and a gob of catchy melodies? I’m not entirely convinced that this is the best route for Arsis to take in their musical career. Given that 2008’s We Are The Nightmare was seen by many as a dragging and monotonous affair, it just feels like the band are throwing in the towel, and, heaven forbid, selling out as well. On the other hand, dragging and mindless guitar wankery are mostly absent from Starve For The Devil--hence the lowered level of technical guitar playing--so, in a way, the band are actually improving by regressing. It is for this reason that you could say that Starve For The Devil is a fresh, new step for Virginia’s Arsis. As history has revealed, when bands take a new directions like this, they often don't hit it right the first time, and as such, Arsis clearly have some areas to work on in the future. However, one can't deny the catchiest of this album. Who knows? If this is your type of thing, you might actually be left starving for more once Starving For The Devil comes to a close.



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user ratings (230)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
Sam (5)
A classic and potential album of the year....

Josh Fountain CONTRIBUTOR (1.5)
Now with an extra helping of cheeeeeeeeese...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


5803 Comments


According to Trey's calendar, as well as others that I've found, this is out today in Europe.

Blindsided
February 5th 2010


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It was actually out on the 2nd in EU and the 9th for US. Arsis has this avail on their tour with Arch Enemy.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


16434 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Reads more like a 3.5 but that's nitpicking. Good review, album is decent at best.

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial

Ponton
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


5803 Comments


That's odd, because I thought I was being too negative for a 3 in places. I tried to even it out. Thanks.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


16434 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It's not too negative. Bad lyrics, to me, doesn't constitute a major downside to an album (it certainly doesn't warrant a full-blow paragraph and 1/4 of the review), which just really leaves a lack of technicality as your main negative argument against it.

But I agree with your points, so hey, props.

Ponton
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


5803 Comments


The bad lyrics were definitely a huge downside for me though, especially since they're easy to pick out. Haha, I guess it's kind of like how you said you hated cursing in stuff like this. To me, this sounds very immature in places.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


16434 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I definitely see where you're coming from, because silly lyrics usually make the album way harder to actually enjoy. I'm undecided though as to whether they were intentional or not.

FadeToBlack
February 5th 2010


11034 Comments


a downsizing in the technicality of the music, and a gob of catchy melodies?
I will probably like this then, their previous two albums were a bit too technical and unmemorable imo

Blindsided
February 5th 2010


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ yeah man. I like COG quite a bit but this was more fun than technical which is good.

Poet
February 5th 2010


5935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol Arsis has never really had lyrics anyways.

R6Rider
February 5th 2010


4679 Comments


Saw this today at my local record store. Wanted to get it but didn't since I'll probably be disappointed

Digging: Diocletian - Gesundrian

FadeToBlack
February 5th 2010


11034 Comments


yeah man. I like COG quite a bit but this was more fun than technical which is good.
thats the thing though, i loved A Celebration Of Guilt and A Diamond For Disease, but they just kind of died a bit after that

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


17222 Comments


United In Regret was the dragging monotonous affair. We Are The Nightmare had some of Arsis' best
songs. Thor needs to review this.

Yazz_Flute
February 5th 2010


18809 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Arsis always seem to focus the lyrics on their album around one word. On We Are the Nightmare it was "tightrope" and on this one it's "starve/starving."

Album is fun.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 5th 2010


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i didnt like forced to rock at all but i'll still probably listen to this

Ponton
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


5803 Comments


United In Regret was the dragging monotonous affair. We Are The Nightmare had some of Arsis' best songs.


I don't know man, I've yet to place my ratings on those just yet, but they both seemed pretty monotonous. It's just my opinion, though.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


17222 Comments


Overthrown>

Yazz_Flute
February 5th 2010


18809 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Shattering the Spell
Overthrown
A Feast For the Liar's Tongue
Failure's Conquest

Poet
February 5th 2010


5935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

StS and Overthrown are my favorite off of there.

Closer to Cold is the best song on here though.

Nikkolae
February 5th 2010


4860 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

good review, but since is not as technical anymore idk if i want to check it out, i love arsis and im terrified at the fact that this might disappoint me

Digging: Cursed Graves - Western Blood



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