(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new, free EP by Virginia’s Arsis.)
Scion A/V really needs to stop putting out great metal before I buy a car.
Arsis have returned with a new EP Lepers Caress that crashes into your consciousness at maximum velocity. I’m going to assume everyone knows who these guys are — they’ve been a long-established band who have stood out as an exception to the idea that only Europeans do melodic death metal well and have had a sound more technical than you’d expect from this style, which causes them to stick out.
It’s hard to say whether this EP is simply its own beast or also a taste of things to come on the next full length Unwelcome, but regardless of the truth in that respect, Lepers Caress is an auditory assault of perfection. Very rarely do you get melodic death metal that is this technical, yet so succinct and well composed.
However, while still maintaining the band’s tech-y aspects, this EP is a tad bit dialed down, and one might compare its music to Arsis’ highly praised debut A Celebration of Guilt. It feels like some of their evolution has been purposefully back-tracked for the sake of providing something more straightforward and visceral; and that’s a good thing in this case. EP’s in my mind best serve as an infusion of adrenaline, showcasing bands at their most intense, as we saw with Revocation on Teratogenesis.
The album’s opener may be slightly deceptive at first, in making you think you’re going to hear a melodic death metal album. The instrumental “Haunted, Fragile and Frozen”, which ushers in “Six Coffins Wide” has a rather interesting doom metal characteristic to it. “Six Coffins Wide”, however, is nothing to be trifled with, as it hits the listener with blazing legato-driven riffing played at supersonic speeds. The best part of this song is its solo, which should serve as a healthy reminder as to why people respect James Malone. It’s a grandiose piece of guitar harmony saturated neoclassical flair that we don’t hear often in metal these days.
Next comes “Veil of Mourning Black”, a re-recording of a song from their 2002 demo and a favorite fan song from what I can gather. The high octane pedal point riffing and interwoven guitar interplay is ushered along by a slew of blast beats, thrash beats, and double-bass saturation.
“A Tearful Haunt, Condemned” is probably my favorite track on the EP. With an interesting guitar-interplay-driven waltz motif, the riffs and leads almost dance around each other. The chorus is a tempo switch out of left field that is classic Arsis as well — to the point, groovy, and razor sharp in its attack. This song also contains the best solo on the EP, a shred fest for sure.
The next two songs “Carve My Cross” and “Denied” are excellent blast furnace pieces of music, but in lieu of further descriptive words I’ll just reiterate that this is a badass EP from a badass band. Few bands can claim to be putting out such badass material four full-lengths into their career. This EP just cements Arsis’ place as an American metal stalwart.
Lepers Caress can be streamed and downloaded for free at this location.
I’ve been listening to this constantly since it was released. I think it is some of their best work yet. And if it is any indication of what Unwelcome has in store for us I’m already gonna call it a potential top 5 album of 2013.