Arsis – “Visitant” (Agonia Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Despite their grim covers, there’s nothing crude about Arsis in any sense of the word. Blending their name from the musical term ‘arsis and thesis’, and considering founder lead vocalist / rhythm guitarist James Malone’s classical education in being a skilled violinist and a composition major, Arsis play technical death metal with a strong emphasis on the term par excellence!!! Joining Malone in the talent circle is renowned Brandon Ellis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse), whose mesmerising guitar work is truly something to behold on this impressive 6th album. Coming some 5 years after its acclaimed predecessor “Unwelcome”, the connections to The Black Dahlia Murder are undoubtedly there, especially when you consider previous guitarist Ryan Knight left to join them and on this album, guest vocals come from none other than Trevor Strand! That said, Arsis are no carbon copy, but rather a more melodic creature, still resplendent with blurring speed and chopping blast beats, but more keen to show off their virtuosity more prominently than their ferocity. Harking back to the band’s 2005 EP “A Diamond For Disease’ and lyrically influenced by classic horror movies, “Visitant” is both mature sound wise thanks to working with famed producer Mark Lewis (Whitechapel, Devildriver, Cannibal Corpse), while still keeping to the spirit of the band’s youth. From it’s lightning drum speed to brilliant clanging melodies on ‘Hell Sworn’ in part reminding me of Dissection, Malone shreds his larynx once more as Ellis delivers the fluid solos while flicking out hooks in between powering out the chundering riffing – wow! I mean, there’s plenty of versatility in the songs here prompting successive listens of the music to discover something you might’ve missed the first time around cos of the hair raising speed ha ha. With drummer Shawn Priest threatening to spontaneously combust on ‘Funeral Might’ given his rocket speed, the heavy duty melodies are heaped thick along with some wild ass tremolo work before giving way to a nice headbanging passage towards the end. Lacquering the grooves like a carpet on ‘Easy Prey’ where Malone’s screaming was brilliantly matched by Ellis’s own wailing and squeaking guitar – not to mention an impressive soulful solo – the band maintain an amazingly tight performance, which indeed is constant throughout “Visitant”, and while impressing in itself, has also respectably kept the flag flying for technical death metal!