Arsis
Unwelcome


3.5
great

Review

by Andrew Gold CONTRIBUTOR (66 Reviews)
April 28th, 2013 | 66 replies | 10,785 views


Release Date: 04/30/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Arsis is as Arsis does.

Of all the adjectives that could be used to describe Arsis, consistent isn’t one of them. James Malone and his posse of rotating band members have been drifting to and from greatness with each consecutive release, so understandably even after the pleasant surprise of the Lepers Caress EP, Arsis fans were still skeptical of their newest full-length Unwelcome. Ironically enough, Unwelcome happens to be one of the most welcome additions to their discography in a long while, and proves once again that Starve for the Devil (and to an extent United in Regret) were nothing more than failed experiments in an otherwise consistently great catalog.

What always gave Arsis their charm is James Malone’s ability to combine technicality and melody seamlessly, creating their signature infectious brand of death metal. The use of guitar overdubs on their early works helped with this, specifically songs like ‘The Face of My Innocence’ strived on dense, convoluted guitar melodies layered on top of each other to give the aural equivalent of a full band when in reality it was the James Malone project plus one. However since We Are the Nightmare, Arsis has been much more of a band effort and Unwelcome continues in this vein, marking the return of Noah Martin on bass and newcomers Brandon Ellis and Shawn Priest on guitars and drums respectively. Priest had arguably the biggest shoes to fill considering Arsis always strived on its spastic drum work and ample double bass, and he doesn’t disappoint. Contrary to the overly flashy drums on We Are the Nightmare, Shawn holds these songs together like glue, alternating between blasts, thrash beats, and fills at appropriate times without distracting the focus from the guitars like Darren Cesca did.

James Malone is front-and-center on Unwelcome, as you'd expect, and vocally he’s as strong as ever. His newfound love for background growls gives an extra punch to the heavier moments on the album and compliments his raspy, faux-black metal style of screaming nicely, most notably on the re-recorded and re-mastered version of ‘Carve My Cross’. He and Ellis are a forced to be reckoned with on guitars, Ellis providing the rhythmic foundation for James’ noodling, or in some cases having intertwining countermelodies reminiscent of the A Celebration of Guilt days. Closer ‘Scornstar’ is the best example of harmonic counterpoint, and wouldn’t sound too out of place on the A Diamond for Disease EP, fit with similar production and all. Thrash metal overtones are found throughout, not nearly to the extent of the sleazy 80’s thrash worship in Starve for the Devil, but rather a subtle style of modern thrash that can get stuck in your head without the crutch of lazy hooks. Heavier cuts like ‘Martyred or Mourning’ and ‘No One Lies to the Dead’ are highlights, the latter dipping into a blackened Darkthrone-esque bridge where James’ vocals fit right at home, and previously released bookends ‘Unwelcome’ and ‘Scornstar’ feature everything you’d expect from Arsis and both open and close the album on a great note.

Also, as you’d expect from Arsis, there’s a decent amount of cheese on Unwelcome (if you didn’t already get that notion from the ridiculous song titles). ‘Sunglasses at Night’ isn’t necessarily their fault as it’s a Corey Hart cover (which is odd enough as it is), but the lyrics are so blatantly awful it’s almost impossible to ignore.

I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
See the light that’s right before my eyes


The always cringe-worthy intro of ‘Carve My Cross’ isn’t much better: ”Being right never felt so wrong!” sounds like it could be ripped straight from an Attack Attack! song, and the fact that it was the weakest off Lepers Caress makes you wonder why they chose to include it here in the first place. The re-mastering and addition of layered growls does help its cause, though. In fact, the production job in general is one of Unwelcome’s greatest strengths. Even though James and Brandon recorded organically without the need for multiple overdubs, the thick and dark production gives it the same density of their early albums with the clarity of only two guitar parts playing simultaneously instead of six or seven.

At its core, Unwelcome is an Arsis album: take it or leave it. If you weren’t a fan of the band during their prime this certainly won’t change your opinion on them. Similarly, if you enjoyed Lepers Caress and wondered what a full-length of comparable material would be like, here it is. At a modest 36-minutes, Unwelcome doesn’t overstay its welcome (no pun intended) with each track being as compact and formulaic as the last. Arsis deserves some credit for staying true to their technical melodeath roots after all this time. Even after compromising their sound in the past, Unwelcome shows the band doing what they do best, and it doesn’t completely rule out the idea of another A Celebration of Guilt or A Diamond for Disease sometime in the future.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2013



20600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Rec'd tracks: Unwelcome, Martyred or Mourning, No One Lies to the Dead, I Share in Shame, Scornstar

Unwelcome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUVLLGvAW8w

Scornstar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNDf5y9CU7Q

Carve My Cross: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIESR1I4J6k

yup

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

ViralOblivion
April 28th 2013



7679 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I agree good review

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2013



19395 Comments


haven't heard these guys but nice review pos

Digging: Musk Ox - Woodfall

ViralOblivion
April 28th 2013



7679 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Atari check out celebration of guilt and diamond for disease

Thor
April 28th 2013



10176 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The Sunglasses at Night cover rules something fierce.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2013



19395 Comments


remind me later lol going to dinner with the fiance soon

solongatlast
April 28th 2013



190 Comments


am I the only one who lol'd at the band name?

FrozenVain
April 28th 2013



2365 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

probably

Nice review, Ins. I will dig this.

Scoot
April 28th 2013



17676 Comments


don't care what anyone says, their first two releases were and still are great

Digging: Unjust - Glow

Scoot
April 28th 2013



17676 Comments


don't care what anyone says, their first two releases were and still are great

Calc
April 28th 2013



11940 Comments


i just heard a song by these guys this morning and it wasn't bad


the other song i heard right after that was though..

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

Shuyin
April 28th 2013



11097 Comments


their first album was fucking amazing

good review, gotta check this out.

Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars

zaruyache
April 28th 2013



5830 Comments


Pos'd.

Digging: Sunwolf - Beholden To Nothing And No One

MO
April 28th 2013



18192 Comments


what scoot said

CakeWithCream
April 28th 2013



1021 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i guess im the only one that thoroughly enjoyed this album from start to finish, even the re-recording of Face of My Innocence, although the original was perfect so it'd be hard to mess that up

NeoSpaz
April 28th 2013



4517 Comments


First album was really good.

Can't believe they re-recorded face of innocence again, might need to give this a spin.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013



5968 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Is there a stream for this? I thought it leaked like this morning

Haven't listened to it yet, pretty excited to though the ep from a couple months ago made it seem like they're moving back in the right direction from Starve for the Devil

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2013



20600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not sure about a stream but it leaked a couple days ago and ive been spinning it constantly since then.

but yea this is waaaayyyy better than starve for the devil

DrHouseSchuldiner
April 28th 2013



5643 Comments


Nice rev,pos'd ...not sure if im gonna dig this cuz i only like their debut but might check at some point

bloc
April 28th 2013



34663 Comments


Never liked this band all that much. I'll skip this.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn



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