Sound — 9
Arsis has struck gold again with "Unwelcome," their 6th album. They successfully mix their more technical material from their last couple albums with their catchier, melodic material from "A Celebration of Guilt" and "A Diamond for Disease." James Malone delivers an excellent record in terms of riff writing and the drums compliment the guitar work perfectly. 1. "Unwelcome" - One of my favorite tracks of the album. This song has some good technical but catchy riffs and a good melodic chorus. 2. "Carve My Cross" - Personally I'm not a fan of this song. It has good riffs but I don't like how it comes out because the riffs seem dissonant, but it has a good solo. 3. "Handbook for the Recently Deceased" - Another Arsis song with a catchy chorus, this song has a less technical feel to it than some others and more of an emphasis on the drums in my mind. 4. "Choking on Sand" - This one is favorite song of the album. The verse is blisteringly fast, and there's a quick slow section in the middle that nicely feeds into the solo. 5. "Let Me Be the One" - Another very fast song with a catchy main riff, slightly more technical than the last couple. This one is another one of my favorites. 6. "Sunglasses at Night" - The song has a slow intro riff which feeds into some insane blast beats over the slow riff, which turns me off. The song as a whole seems a little slow and off-balance. 7. "Martyred or Mourning" - Groovy would be the way I'd describe this song for the most part, but it speeds up and slows down frequently through the song. 8. "No One Lies to the Dead" - I didn't find this track to be anything particularly special but it has some catchy riffs and holds your attention sufficiently well. 9. "I Share in Shame" - Though I'm not a fan of the song, I love the main riff. In the middle, it has a breakdown which feeds into a solo that reminded me of slayer. 10. "Scornstar" - Another excellent song, probably the most technical on the album, which has a few changes in speed, and has a fantastic, groovy chorus. This one reminds me of something off "United in Regret" or "We Are the Nightmare" but more catchy.
Lyrics — 8
While I've never been a huge fan of James Malone's lyrics, I respect his ability to write intelligent-sounding songs that fit well with the music. I did particularly like the lyrics to "Choking on Sand"; I think it's a very poignant song for most people. On the other hand, I absolutely love Malone's voice. It sounds like a black metal screech but with a little more meat to it, and when he does pull out the growls, they're not outstanding but they're adequate enough to be used infrequently. The lyrics fit well with Arsis' dark imagery and sound, so James does his job in the lyrical department.
Overall Impression — 9
On this album, Arsis stays unique from their contemporaries. From what I've listened to, no other band blends melodic death metal and technical death metal as well as Arsis can. The balance of technicality vs. melody changes from song to song but both are omnipresent. My favorite songs are "Unwelcome," "Choking on Sand," and "Let Me Be the One." Personally I prefer the melodic material more than the technical stuff, so I'm a bit biased. I love James' riffs and the speed as well as most of the solos, as well as the occasional groovy parts of the record. I didn't hate much besides "Carve My Cross." I would absolutely buy it again and recommend it to anyone who enjoys metal.