(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by the Russian artist Arsafes, whose work with Kartikeya and other projects we’ve covered frequently at NCS)
I WAS going to review the new Crowbar, but something much more exciting to me (no insult to Crowbar, it’s fucking good) landed on my proverbial desk. It would be accurate to say that Arsafes and I are friends to some extent. We talk a good deal, we share music with each other, and I’m constantly nagging him about when Kartikeya’s gonna release Samudra. But right now, what matters is that he’s decided to revisit the idea of solo material.
There is one previous EP under the Arsafes moniker (discussed here), a blistering EP of industrial death metal with some Meshuggah-isms that was really impressive. Now he’s decided to revisit this idea and do a ful- length album. Not only has he decided to redo all the songs from the mentioned EP, he’s gotten quite a bit of new material together as well.
Ratocracy is the same brand of industrial death metal Arsafes created on the previous EP, and it’s so good, so intense and brutal, that I think it will do a fine job of staving off the craving for new Kartikeya. It’s fast as fuck, heavy as a solid brick of titanium, and hits with the impact force of a human-sized piston thrust to the chest, counterbalanced by lush ambience. It’s the kind of sonic narrative that is in all of his music, including Kartikeya’s. This album is like hearing Kartikeya with the ethnic elements replaced with industrial elements instead. Arsafes‘ love of Devin Townsend also comes through here, mostly in the way the ambient moments are handled.
Ratocracy is, for the most part, balls to the wall. It’s all about blast beats, thrash beats, low-tuned dirges, and death metal tremolo-picked runs and utter chaos. A couple of songs such as “20 Days”, which was on the EP, take a more laid-back, melodic, and groovy approach, and they serve as a nice break. For the most part, though, you’ll find brain-slicing hydro-cannon impact numbers like the opener “Behold the Hydrogen Dominator/EFTM”. For the most part the songs follow a similar pattern, with the verses and most of the songs charging at full speed ahead, balls to the wall, fuck you up velocity and the choruses delivering gorgeous, yet still heavy, ambient walls of sound.
But really, I think if you’ve enjoyed ANYTHING Arsafes has been a part of, you’ll enjoy this. I’ve had this on loop non-stop since I got the promo for it, and as I said, if you’re dying for new Kartikeya, this will certainly quench the thirst for that in the meantime. Ratocracy is both vicious and gorgeous at the same time. Worth buying, especially for only seven dollars, and because Arsafes is one of the best composers in metal.
At the Arsafes Bandcamp, you’ll also find a collection of three Ratocracy bonus tracks available for free download. The songs are covers of Rihanna, Strapping Young Lad, and GG Allin.