I personally feel that Melodic Death Metal is under some sort of constant attack, and in part I can understand that. In a lot of ways I view the genre as a sort of bridging gap between underground and mainstream Metal. Yet that said At The Gates, Dark Tranquility, In Flames and many more have all proved that it rightfully deserves a place in the halls of Metal. Not to mention the oncoming rise of bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder whom seep exceptional songwriting even if purists are in some sort of unjust doubt.
In the millennia of 2000 in Virginia Beach USA a band formed named Arsis. They soon went on in 2004 to gain acclaim with their debut A Celebration Of Guilt which has seen them spawn a further five full lengths. Inclusive within that number is Visitant the latest release put out through Agonia Records. Arsis’ unique brand of Technical Melodic Death Metal has been a bubbling inspiration within the underground but can this new album see their melting pot of classically trained Metal overflow?
Wasting no time with frivolous introductions there is an instant tinge of melody in the guitars. Clean cut, well produced, technical and frantic, this is unmistakably Melodic Death Metal to the very core. With the addition of harsh yet well spoken vocals laying over the top of this mixture we certainly get a nostalgic Melodic Death sound that equally makes its presence felt in the modern setting of the genre. The instrumentation, particularly on Tricking The Gods, Fathoms, As Deep As Your Flesh and Funeral Might is unquestionably above par, yet at what sort of cost.
Although the riffs are venomous well written, listenable and enjoyable there is very little room for memorability leaving Visitant as a bit of a drab composition. The phrase style over substance comes to mind, looking at and comparing Arsis to more underground artists like Enfold Darkness and Inferi it would appear that the band have lost their way. This release isn’t even overly Technical in presentation but due to the overuse of mind-bending riffs there is an overload of information, which in turn leads to a bland end product.
So there we have it Arsis’ melting pot has certainly overflowed, however it comes across as more of an unfortunate spillage than a cleansing flood. My advice to those seeking new Technical Melodic Death Metal is this, turn to the underground. There are many bands thriving in this scene at the moment and it seems an awful shame that Arsis should be placed at the top when Visitant is so lacking in comparison to its younger siblings. To end on a positive however Visitant is enjoyable, you might not be drawn to listen again and again but for the first few listens it is at least musical impressive, the sort of album I can imagine guitar players getting very excited about.
(6/10 George Caley)