The band had a major lineup change as longtime guitarist Nick Cordle left and was recruited by Arch Enemy. Guitar solos are such a large part of the Arsis sound that fans were left wondering how they would proceed. Unknown guitarist Brandon Ellis has been brought in to fill the large void and does an admirable job. There are some amazing leads on Unwelcome, but unfortunately there isn’t an over abundance of them, leaving the listener wanting more.
The title track kicks things off and it is apparent from the onset that Arsis means business. Blast beats annihilate the senses, as vocalist James Malone brutalizes the listener with over the top aggressive vocals. An excellent guitar melody line accompanies the vocals during the chorus and showcases the songwriting skills that separate Arsis from their peers.
The record gets stronger as it goes on and it closes on a high note. The closing trilogy of songs “No One Lies to the Dead,” “I Share in Shame” and the crushingly heavy “Scornstar” find the band at its best. The latter is the bright spot on the record with excellent riffing, shredding solos and memorable melodies to round out the album. A true Arsis classic has been created.
A useless cover of Corey Hart’s huge 80s hit “Sunglasses at Night” seems contrived and out of place. The song contains intense blast beats and a disjointed verse that leaves one hard pressed to recognize any similarity to the initial recording. The chorus brings some semblance back to the original, but I find it confusing why one would choose to cover a song and make it so unrecognizable. I believe another self-penned composition would have worked better. Outside of the amazing guitar solos, this is a forgettable cover.
The band has seemed to go in a different direction instead of building on the momentum from Starve for the Devil. Old school Arsis fans can find a lot to sink their teeth into with amazing intricate drumming, complex guitar riffs and vocals that find Malone as aggressive as he has ever been.
Unwelcome finds Arsis showcasing their musicianship first and foremost. The band is incredibly talented and there are parts of this record that would push the endurance of any musician. I believe the songwriting isn’t as strong this time around.
The parts of the record that stand out are the spots where they restrain their speed and focus on the riff writing instead of the ferocity. At 36 minutes this is an incredibly fast listen and a reworking of the track listing would have been to the albums benefit.
(Released April 30, 2013 on Nuclear Blast Records)