With four full length albums since their debut in 2004, Arsis is one of the most hard working bands in the scene today. They play a distinct style of melodic death metal, adding elements of thrash, speed metal, and heavy doses of progressive metal. While it may sound complex, and it is, Arsis has a unique and delightful knack for straddling perfectly the sweet spot between technicality and melody, as well as a killer ear for catchy, well structured songs. Their newest full length Starve for the Devil showcases their best work yet, and the band shows no sign of letting up any time soon.
In a nod the cheesy 80′s metal they draw a substantial amount influence from, the intro track Forced to Rock is a tongue in cheek heavy metal anthem, filled with goofy lyrics and a very friendly song structure. An excellent, if curious introduction to the record, the rest of the album is a more serious affair, and it moves forward at breakneck speed. The return of original drummer Michael Van Dyne is an extremely welcome one, with songs like Beyond Forlorn and Closer to Cold really showcasing the chemistry that exists between him and front man James Malone. Attention must also be slathered on new guitarist Nick Cordle for his gorgeous leads and careful attention to detail in the song writing process .
The production is superb, which, given the band’s record for upping the ante with each subsequent release, is not a surprise. The leads are powerful, the vocals cutting but not too overwhelming, and the percussion in particular being magnificently mixed. Every cymbal crash, snare crack and bass thump resonates beautifully across each song, and Van Dyne’s skills have only gotten more impressive since his departure from the band. There is very little to say about Starve for the Devil that is not glowing. There is groove, technicality, blasting heaviness, and passionate soloing that, more important than anything, are instantly recognizable and memorable.
The intensity of the songs are reminiscent of their debut A Celebration of Guilt, which was pretty much absent on their third effort United and Regret. The album is dense, with so many riffs and leads it is impossible to absorb it all without several spins and careful attention. The final two tracks Escape Artist and Sable Rising are immensely heavy, and bombastic, a perfect ending to a consistently solid record.