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Arsis: Unwelcome

A few days ago, the upcoming Arsis album, Unwelcome, showed up in the inbox. I’ve been dying to give this one a spin for a while, but don’t really intend to get the review done until next week. So, instead of sitting on the band’s highly anticipated fifth album in silence, I figured I’d throw some of my thoughts on the site in a brief first impression article. And, after sitting down with the first half, I can safely say that this was not what I had hoped for.

Unwelcome is just too crisp and digital, losing much of it’s bite. It also seemed as if what intensity should have been there was sacrificed for the technicality that does exist. “Unwelcome” is a great example. It clearly tries to be a darker track, though the bass isn’t deep enough to pull that atmosphere off one hundred percent. There’s plenty of sudden shifts throughout the song, though many of them felt forced or too great a leap that simply doesn’t work out. The guitar solo here is pretty short and sweet, and well worth noting. But, even with the volume cranked, this track was incredibly boring. Outside the melodic chorus, much of it just wound up being meshed together, especially thanks to the lower vocals that sometimes just got lost in the mix horribly and making things worse, with nothing else really sticking out.

“Carve My Cross” was a little better all around, but still didn’t strike me as that amazing a song. The music came off a little richer and deeper, and the bass kicks filled things up little more despite the slower speed. There were a few hooks here and there that works out, especially between the varied guitar solos, the latter being much stronger and better suiting to what technical chaos was available. Sadly, this is another song that just didn’t really hit me. In fact, I had to pause it for a minute, and when I hit the play button again completely forgot the two plus minutes I had heard.

“Handbook for the Recently Deceased,” a clear Beetlejuice reference at least in title, was a little more on par with what a good technical Metal song should sound like. Not everything sounded meshed together, and there was a good deal of energy all around that even the polished production quality couldn’t eradicate. The shifts in speed felt natural to the flow of the song from start to finish, and the additional hooks made for a nice little bonus touch that wasn’t necessary, but definitely helped out. This was the first that had me bobbing my head along to the catchy rhythm, and didn’t have me looking to see how much longer until it would end. If more songs were to end up like this, then Unwelcome would be a little more tolerable.

“Choking on Sand” doesn’t quite have that faster pace, but the aggression is definitely still there. Again, the sudden shifts in speed, and the engrossing, believable atmospheres the guitars create don’t feel forced or random. This track was definitely another one that wound up easy to follow, and the guitar solo’s emotion was easily the best up to this point, though tragically too short. The layering effects on the vocals helped to make the performance a little tighter than it actually comes off. The bite does end up slightly restricted overall, as if the band was a little worn out when recording this song. This could have been the production quality at work again, though, greatly sterilizing a necessary component to Arsis‘ success. Either way, it was still an engaging track worth hearing that I would have no problem going back to again.

Finally, I opted to settle on “Let Me Be the One,” mostly because it seemed to throw back to “Unwelcome” and “Carve My Cross.” While the song wasn’t that bad, it had plenty of shifts to the music and speed that just didn’t seem to work out too well. The hooks present really weren’t anything that special, but it kept the song energetic enough to keep me from looking at the length of time left. But, it seemed as soon as the song started, it was over, and not in a good way. I really don’t remember much of this song, and the only reason I can really talk about it is because I went back and listened to it again, and even then it didn’t make much of an impact on me at all, nor do I really care if I hear it again or not.

At this point, I’m not too impressed with Unwelcome, though I’ll admit the cover of Corey Hart‘s hit single “Sunglasses at Night” does have my interest peaked as to what else this album has in store. Sadly, two stand out tracks out of five wasn’t enough to make me want to continue, and the headache “Unwelcome” and “Carve My Cross” gave me is honestly annoying. Had the production been a little rougher, and not as crisp as this one is, maybe pod the bass up a little more in the mix instead of having such a treble-heavy focus, then these songs would have been a lot more more memorable overall. But, for now, I don’t look forward the last half, though I guess I can’t really say this is shaping up to be that bad an experience, perhaps more of a mediocre one.

Arsis (band)

Digital review material for this article provided by Nuclear Blast Records.