James Malone – Vocals, guitars
Noah Martin – Bass
Brandon Ellis – Guitars
Shawn Priest – Drums
1.) Tricking the Gods
2.) Hell Sworn
3.) Easy Prey
5.) As Deep As Your Flesh
6.) A Pulse Keeping Time With the Dark
7.) Funeral Might
8.) Death Vow
9.) Dead is Better
10.) Unto the Knife
11.) His Eyes (Pseudo Echo cover)
On Visitant, Arsis frontman James Malone sets out to display his passion for horror, and much like a good villain or monster, Arsis know exactly where to strike to draw blood. Their sound is one of precision brutality, less a bludgeoning blow, more a slice from a razor-clawed glove. Lyrically too, the album is one of pain and death, and the things lurking out of sight that promise both. If it was the band’s intent to craft an album capturing the dark, threatening nature of good horror, they have succeeded in that.
Arsis delivers us a solid slab of highly proficient melodeath, avoiding some of the more common cliches of the genre and living up to their own reputation well. It’s an impressive blending of melody, brutality and technicality all in one. The band manages to be technical without sounding like they’re just showing off, brutal without using it as a crutch in place of proper song-writing, and melodic without neglecting the core ferocity of the genre. Stylistically it lies in the same region as others who maintain a more visceral and aggressive take on the melodeath genre, like Black Dahlia Murder or Carcass.
Particular highlights for me are “Fathoms” and “Unto the Knife”. The former is a song about the rise of a race of mer-people, or perhaps a Cult of Chthulu. Either way, I like it, it has just the right mix of breakdown heaviness, catchiness and lead guitar flourishes. “Unto the Knife” has the perfect heavy-hitting technique. Right off the bat, this one comes swinging at you with fists of solid steel, and the whole song is an unrelenting assault of pounding, battering heaviness.
Unfortunately, outside of these two songs, few tracks or moments really stand out; most of the time I’d struggle to tell you which track I was listening to at any given time. Individual songs need a touch more character and defined structure to ascend beyond this and really put the band’s obvious talent to full effect. But still, Arsis’ core sound is excellent, masterfully balancing the different aspects of their style, with the continual gear changes and real skill on display keeping it from ever sounding truly repetitive. Visitant is still a solid, blood-slicking mortuary slab of an album, and a worthy love-letter to the horror genre.