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Arsis - "Unwelcome" (CD)

Arsis - "Unwelcome" CD cover image

"Unwelcome" track listing:

1. Unwelcome (3:41)
2. Carve my Cross (4:13)
3. Handbook for the Recently Deceased (3:48)
4. Choking on Sand (3:18)
5. Let me be the One (3:10)
6. Sunglasses at Night (3:58)
7. Martyred or Mourning (4:09)
8. No One Lies to the Dead (3:04)
9. I Share in Shame (3:36)
10. Scornstar (3:38)

Reviewed by on April 14, 2013

"Tech fans won’t be disappointed, as there are segments from 'Unwelcome' that are blisteringly technical on a Blotted Science level, but this is also an incredibly spazzy release that dips into a variety of other genres."

Technical death metal acts have to walk a fine tight rope; it’s got to be tastily shredtastic, but at the same time be balanced and grounded, or it comes off as soulless speed wanking. The music has got to have enough brutality to keep the heads banging, but if it goes too far in that direction, the end result is an abrasive wall of sound with no point of reference. Continuing to walk that tight rope is Arsis, which tempers tech-death with a couple of surprising genre choices on “Unwelcome,” namely traditional and power metal.

These ten songs are short but sweet (mostly three-minute tracks with none of them getting much past the four-minute mark), but also incredibly frenzied and chaotic. The chaos occasionally reaches such heights that the guitars sound a bit out of sync with the other instruments, but overall, the insanity is a controlled burn, kept in check by throwing in less extreme elements. Melodic sounds in the background or a focused guitar solo here and there keep the album balanced between all the tempo changes and high speed riffage.

While absolutely full force on the death side, many of the tracks have surprising power metal elements. These two different modes aren’t necessarily opposing one another, but rather play off each other, with a blistering and brutal half, and then a melodic and bombastic counterpoint. It’s an odd combination that has varying degrees of success, but overall compensates for either side and never tips completely out of the brutality, keeping up a nice brisk pace. The vocal work sticks to the extreme side, but amusingly, some of the lyrics on catchier songs come through clear in the oddest moments, like “I Wear My, I Wear My Sunglasses At Night!” Those parts will easily stick out in your head, but the rest will probably be forgotten within minutes as the relentless tech storm passes by.

Tech fans won’t be disappointed, as there are segments from “Unwelcome” that are blisteringly technical on a Blotted Science level, but this is also an incredibly spazzy release that dips into a variety of other genres. Brutal and silly fun – “Unwelcome” will only live up to its name for those who are fully committed to one side or the other, and don’t fancy the two worlds colliding.

Highs: Blisteringly fast tech-death tempered with more melodic elements.

Lows: The album can get a bit too spazzy and chaotic for its own good.

Bottom line: Tech-death gets a spazzy power metal makeover for an album that's brutal and fun.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)