Tech Death Thursday: Arsis – Visitant
IT’S ARSIS TIME LET’S FUCKING GOOOOO
…right after some news:
- The new Serocs album is streaming in full at Decibel, and it is SPICY. Like, instantly snagging top spots on those looming end-of-year lists spicy. I don’t want to tell you what to do with your time, but you should probably put this in your ears as soon as fucking possible.
- If you’re into dudes hitting circles really fast, you can check Gabe Seeber’s new drum playthrough of “Flesh of the Sun” from The Kennedy Veil’s latest, Imperium.
- Mass Infection has a new piece of big, angery death metal on the way, and it’s sounding pretty sick. Like it’s infected or something. Look for that on December 7th through Comatose Music.
- Exterminatus put out a new video for “Metamorphosis” from their latest album, Laniakea, which I may or may not have completely forgotten came out last month.
Few things in this world please me more than the phrase “new Arsis album,” and here we are just a week out from the release of Visitant. Five years isn’t a ton of time to wait for new music, all things considered, but it feels like forever since Unwelcome came out. Fans of the band have received some succor from the drought of new material with guitarist Brandon Ellis lending his talents to The Black Dahlia Murder and James Malone’s side project Necromancing The Stone, but those don’t quite fill the same role. The wait is just about over though, and I’m going to give you the rundown on the new record.
Given that these dudes have been around for awhile, I’m not going to go super deep into their overall sound (you can check out my primer on A Celebration of Guilt if you want more detail). If you’re unfamiliar, expect technical melodies with an oldschool mindset- lots of that classic “evil” tritone and a penchant for 80’s flair in both the riffs and the solos with the occasional neoclassical touch and loads of counterpoint. The interactions between the instruments has always been one of Arsis’ biggest strengths, and that is fully intact on Visitant.
Now, for the Arsis fans, this album falls squarely between United In Regret and We Are The Nightmare in terms of overall sound, coming off like a full-length Diamond For Disease. We get a solid showing of both their melodic and technical sides on this one, never quite going as off-the-rails as Nightmare, but with more complex writing than Regret. A couple tunes go entirely in one direction or the other- “Tricking the Gods” and “Dead is Better” are pure technical goodness, where “Easy Prey” and “Funereal Might” are classic Arsis through and through- but most strike an even balance between the two.
As you could reasonably expect from that description, there isn’t really much new ground explored on Visitant. This is by and large just more Arsis; the sole exception is “A Pulse Keeping Time With the Dark,” a slow, haunting number that doesn’t sound like anything else in their discography. That said, I don’t really consider this a drawback: Arsis found a winning formula for their music years ago, and this is the tightest that formula has ever been. The interplay between the guitars is fantastic, Shawn Priest gives a characteristically intense drum performance, and the increased bass presence is one of the best things to happen to their music in years (Noah Martin might be the single most underappreciated bassist in the genre because you could never fucking hear him before). The shift in lyrics from personal subject matter to horror movies seems to have brought a playful element back to their sound as well, which I felt Unwelcome lacked somewhat. Guest spots from the ever-ubiquitous Trevor Strnad (TBDM) and Malcolm Pugh (Inferi) are just icing on the cake.
My only real hangups with this album came from the vocals. We talked about this a little on Sunday’s podcast, but the short version is that James’ vocals sound way different now. His caustic midrange scream of the past have turned into a sort of gravelly shout. I wouldn’t say the vocals have ever been a key component of their music, nor is the new style bad, but I found it distracting as a longtime fan. It took a few spins for me to get used to them, but they eventually felt natural. If you think they might seriously stand in the way of your enjoyment of the album, I suggest just powering through it; you’ll almost certainly come around to them with a couple listens, and the music is most definitely worth it.
While the album might not bring a ton of new ideas to the table, the ever-improving songwriting and better production make Visitant a more than worthy addition to the Arsis canon. It brings the shreds, it brings the riffs, and most importantly, it’s just raw musical fun. Snag yourself a copy on November 2nd through Nuclear Blast or Agonia Records, and follow Arsis on social media for updates. You can catch them headlining the Bloodletting North America tour’s remaining dates as well.
Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.