Review : ARSIS – "Starve For The Devil"

ArsisStarve For The Devil
released February 9, 2010 on Nuclear Blast

James Malone is one of the finest songwriters of this generation. This man rewards time and again, across and between both songs and albums. On Arsis‘ most accessible opus to date, Malone consciously draws attention to not only his entire body of work, but notably, his physical body.

Bravely forthright about his illness, lines like ‘I am so full of emptiness’ from lead single “Beyond Forlorn” (where Malone also proclaims himself the ‘prince of emaciation’) aren’t exactly obtuse. But these harrowing tales never get whiny, and the guy wants to have some fun for once! Tracks like opener “Forced To Rock” and “Half Past Corpse O’Clock” are good examples of this, where Malone somehow simultaneously lashes his razor rasp while keeping his tongue planted firmly in cheek. The ‘forced to rock’ motif returns in “The Ten Of Swords”, which also finds Arsis concluding with a rare foray into Southern swagger. Vanity has always been a recurrent theme, and never has it been more apparent than through this harrowing autobiographical record.

There is nice bass prominence in “Beyond Forlorn” and “Closer to Cold” by newcomer Nathaniel Carter. And even more impressive is the interplay Malone has with Nick Cordle, who helped write a few tracks as well (3, 6, 7, 9). But I’m sure, of all the lineup changes, the most welcome is return of original drummer Michael van Dyne. His tasteful, airtight fills accentuate the double-bass and deftly anchor the riffage.

Arsis is among the heir apparents to American bands like Death (late-career) and Scandanavian bands like In Flames (early-career), who expertly navigate the realms of technicality while never losing sense of melodic sensibilities or sacrificing brutality. As I finally write this review after thirteen full listens and a revisitation of the band’s earlier work, I implore you to give it time. However much you like it now, it gets better after every listen.

A Best of 2010 pick!
FCC : 6, 7
Try 1, 2, 3 , 4, 8, 9, 10

01. Forced To Rock
02. A March For The Sick
03. From Soulless To Shattered (Art In Dying)
04. Beyond Forlorn
05. The Ten Of Swords
06. Closer To Cold
07. Sick Perfection
08. Half Past Corpse O’Clock
09. Escape Artist
10. Sable Rising

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

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