Arsis: Unwelcome

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Arsis: Unwelcome
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Arsis: Unwelcomed
Technical Melodic Death Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
April 30th, 2013
Release length: 36:37
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Since Arsis stormed into the Metal world with their 2004 debut album, A Celebration of Guilt, the band has become one hell of an unstoppable force. Their hostile, energetic, and technical display of Melodic Death Metal has carried them well for many years, finding four successful full-length albums, two EPs, and a compilation. Aside their recent free release Lepers Caress through Scion A/V, Arsis has moved from Willowtip Records over to Nuclear Blast Records, which once again hosts their latest effort, Unwelcome. But, has this band lost any steam over the years, or does their fifth album still hold up as strong as their previous outtings?

Unwelcome has a pretty strong production value to it that isn’t too different from their previous outtings. The music sounds pretty thick and heavy, while everything is essentially leveled the same when it comes to volume. The guitars have a bit of a cleaner distortion to them, the bass guitar is low enough to level out the riffs, adding a blunter edge to the drums, especially the tight snares. The cymbals end up rather crisp, especially during some slower areas, and the bass kicks have a dominating click over just about everything. The vocals do stick to the rhaspy approach with little variety, but again saved thanks to the amount of energy, as well as being pushed back a little in the mix, but not enough to really be drowned out.

The atmosphere to this release definitely shifts between hostile and aggressive to dark and abusive. “Unwelcome” shows the latter of the two off quite well, finding blistering music hammering away with deeper tones and a slower, hook-driven chorus that ends up a bit creepy compared to some of the eccentric riffs in the main verses. There’s plenty of energy to be felt, which only encourages the listener to pump their fist or some devil horns into the air to the catchy chorus wherever they may be. “Choking on Sand” is just about as grim, which is thanks largely to the slower sections. Some faster areas can end up a little barren, but it doesn’t really last long enough to hinder the impact of this rather abusive cut negatively. “Share in Shame” is definitely another hostile track that has some lighter moments, but again the atmosphere really stands out to weave a helpless vibe that sets it apart from some of the less dismal, yet still aggressive cuts scattered throughout. In fact, this song features some brief gutturals behind the rhaspy screams, and it’s honestly a shame that they seem to be isolated to this track in particular, adding that little extra dexterity that the vocal aspect of the album does need.

There are some that end up sounding more like oddities, but are still solid cuts. “Handbook for the Recently Deceased,” a Beetlejuice reference, isn’t quite as chaotic or technical as many others. Instead, it sounds more like Arch Enemy laced with latter era Carcass. There are some chaotic musical changes near the end that accentuate their technical prowess, but it just feels tacked on and does nothing more than add a random touch of insanity, and push the already short track length a little further. “No One Lies to the Dead” pulverises the listener more with melody than it does the dark. Again, the music shifts quite often and works in some heavily technical riffs amid times of simpler Groove Metal-esque bridges that do work out well enough to keep the song going without introducing the sensation that they were forced in for the sake of the band’s complex complex signature sound. There’s also a cover of the Corey Hart song “Sunglasses at Night,” which for the most part does stick to the somewhat slower chorus well, feeding into a solid guitar solo that seamlessly goes from suiting to Hard Rock into a far twisted musical world. No, there’s no clean singing, finding the vocals to that enthusiastic rhasp throughout. This would have been an interesting element to add, or even include the synths, though they may have been a little overkill thanks to the speed much of the song is belted out at, especially in the main verses that are simply unrecognizable to the source material.


Unwelcome will also be featured as a digipack edition that includes several bonus tracks, but only one that hasn’t already been released. “The Face of My Innocence (2013 Version)” gets a modern upgrade, adding more intensity and aggression, as well as a better production quality, that shows off just how the band has progressed over the years. Of course, this is largely pointless since the original in no way needed an update, but if you’re a fan it’s something worth considering. The rest of the bonus songs are off their recent free Scion A/V EP, Leper’s Caress. According to the Nuclear Blast Records webstore for North America, this will actually be available at a modest price that is far more natural to the cost of a standard pressing compact disc today. Given how some labels have been price gouging these digipacks or special editions as of late to include already free material for an extra eight to ten dollars (US currency), this is well worth picking up either way, especially if you’re not a fan of digital files and want a physical pressing you can hold in your hands.


Overall, Unwelcome from Arsis is an album fans definitely will welcome. The inconsistancies to the atmosphere throughout the album definitely is something you have to contend with, but overall it still is a mixed bag of solid to memorable cuts that show the band’s love for early Melodic Death Metal, and their need for intricacy and energy. It’s great to see this effort carrying a modest price tag for the digipack version, which does seem to be the only one North America is getting according to the label’s webstore, making that edition not only more mandatory, but a nice addition to for the devoted Arsis fan. This time around, it’s clear the band has sacrificed lining their complexity with highly infectious hooks, and that’s a bit of a shame, but it does make Unwelcome a little more of a modest and serious venture this time around, and one that, while it doesn’t quite have the same impact, will still be lodged in your player for weeks on end.

Standard Pressing:
01. Unwelcome – 3:41
02. Carve My Cross – 4:14
03. Handbook for the Recently Deceased – 3:48
04. Choking on Sand – 3:18
05. Let Me Be the One – 3:10
06. Sunglasses at Night – 3:58
07. Martyred or Mourning – 4:09
08. No One Lies to the Dead – 3:05
09. I Share in Shame – 3:36
10. Scornstar – 3:38

Digipack Bonus Disc:
01. The Face of My Innocence (2013 Version) – n/a
02. Haunted, Fragile and Frozen – 1:53
03. Six Coffins Wide – 4:12
04. Veil of Mourning Black – 3:01
05. A Tearful Haunt, Condemned – 3:32
06. Carve My Cross – 4:06
07. Denied – 2:27

Standard Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Digipack Edition Score: 9/10

Arsis (band)
Arsis

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.