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Nuclear Blast (2013)
Rating: 7/10

The revolving door of musicians headed by Arsis mastermind James Malone return with their third offering for Nuclear Blast Records, titled Unwelcome.

The album follows the extremely successful Starve For The Devil (2010) and the 2011 reissue of the band’s 2004 debut album A Celebration Of Guilt (Willowtip Records), as well as a number of high profile tours. Therefore, Unwelcome is not, in fact, unwelcome at all; especially if you enjoy Carcass.

What the Virginia-based band do best on this album is incorporate some more “rock ’n’ roll” elements, especially in the soloing and intermittent lead work. ‘Handbook For The Recently Deceased’ is probably the best example of this as the band jump between blast beats and groovy, but still heavy, pieces that touch on thrash and melodic death metal and throwing in a absolutely blistering, very traditional metal solo. While I love the song, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I found myself wishing the band would just play it straight, because they would tear it all to hell if they’d stay in the groove. I found myself thinking that a lot throughout the album.

‘No One Lies To The Dead’ is another highlight here. It weaves in and out of tempos and near 90s hardcore-style breaks and then tops it off with an explosive solo followed by an anthemic gang vocal breakdown before cutting it off surprisingly early. The title track is the heaviest tune here. Together with ‘Carve My Cross’, they set a tone that the album doesn’t necessarily follow. The longer the album goes on, the more melodic it gets, particularly in the guitar work, and by closer ‘Scornstar’, it’s 90% melody and 10% brutality.

Arsis have some fun with a cover of the 80s pop hit ‘Sunglasses At Night’ (originally by Corey Hart) as well, and while it’s a blast the first time around, on repeated listens it becomes an albatross of sorts. There is just no way to ignore its stupid lyrics, even in this much more enjoyable musical format.

While maybe a little faster overall, what you know is what you get on Unwelcome. The band refuses to relent, causing the listener to bang their head, pound their chest, and scream their lungs out, sometimes simultaneously. While never managing to rise to “album of the year” status, it’s still a good listen and will definitely appeal to fans of later years Carcass and early Arch Enemy.

Mark Fisher

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