Arsis

Starve For the Devil

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The fourth full-length from Virginia-based technical metal band Arsis represents a deliberate move toward the mainstream. The complex song structures of A Celebration of Guilt and United in Regret are long gone, replaced with a melodic death metal sound reminiscent of Arch Enemy. It's fair to say that fans of the band's early, progressive/brutal work will find this turn toward the anthemic and fist-pumping more than a little shocking, but it's been a fairly gradual change, all things considered. The group's third album, 2008's We Are the Nightmare, was more melodic than its immediate predecessor, and this is just the next step in the process. And after all, it's still extreme metal. Though song titles like "Forced to Rock" and "Half Past Corpse O'Clock" reflect a sense of humor somewhere between the Black Dahlia Murder and Tenacious D, and the guitar solos on "Forced," "From Soulless to Shattered," and other songs are shredtastic in a way fans of bands from Judas Priest to Megadeth can appreciate (hell, "Beyond Forlorn" is practically an Accept song), this is hardly radio fodder. Double bass drumming underpins every song, and James Malone's vocals are still a witchy screech. Arsis have only cleaned up their sonic act relative to the vituperative unpalatability of the majority of their peers. Nickelback they ain't.

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