Saturday, April 3, 2010

Arsis - Starve For The Devil

Christ…show of hands, who actually thought an album called Starve For The Devil would actually end up being pretty good?

Because in the months leading up to this album’s release, we sure didn’t. And by “we”, I mean pretty much everyone I came into contact with about it, Arsis fans or not. I remember busting a barrel laughing when I heard the song titles like album opener Forced To Rock (which not only sounds like something that Biff Byford would have rejected, but also seems to express a desire to not play the music that you’re about to hear), and the now-infamous Half Past Corpse O’Clock (Jesus…).

So when advance reviews of the album started rolling in, calling the album a shockingly strong entry, my ears perked. These weren’t fanboys who would praise anything their favourite band did, these seemed to be critical music fans who had a few bones to pick with Arsis over the years, and they were calling this awesome?

Some test runs of a few songs on Youtube later, I was staring at the monitor in disbelief and vowing to never bash an album based on its title or song titles again. Before I knew it, I was ordering the album that I had thought last year I would never bother to order.

Okay, so […] Corpse is still beyond ridiculous as a song title, but the music itself isn’t bad at all. The band plays tightly, giving prominence to the guitarwork: it’s memorable, it’s a little noodly in a fast-and-loose kind of way but nothing too distracting, it’s catchy and just overall fun to listen to, with cool musical tricks here and there to keep you satisfied.

This is the “other” side of tech-death, extremity-wise: on one hand, you have Origin, who are impressive as hell technically but their songwriting suffers out of their apparent desire to keep building up stockades in this arms race of brutality, and then you have Arsis, who dip even into rock-like riffs and structures at times, because parts of this definitely don’t feel much like death metal – even in the vocal work, which would fit right at home in a German thrash outfit like Destruction. It tells me that crafting music on their own terms takes greater precedence for Malone and the boys over showing that you can sweep pick at the speed of God.
Yeah, like I mentioned, there’s weedly and noodly and everything in between, but this IS tech-death we’re talking about for the most part, so give me a break. This album works for me in a way I never would have thought it would. It won’t dethrone the latest Immolation as my favourite death metal album of the year any time soon, but you don’t have to be the best to be worth checking out. So despite having one of the top ten most ridiculous death metal album titles in recent memory, and having one of the nuttiest song titles ever, check it out. You might be as surprised as I was.

No comments:

Post a Comment