BY Denise FalzonPublished Apr 26, 2013

Virginia-based extreme metal outfit Arsis have returned with their fifth album, Unwelcome, which sees the band venturing back to their heavier, darker, thrashier roots. The follow-up to 2010's Starve for the Devil makes it clear that founder/chief songwriter/lead guitarist/vocalist James Malone has mastered the art of mixing technical and melodic death metal with thrash elements in a way that combines musical complexity with catchy songwriting. Now featuring new guitarist Brandon Ellis and drummer/long-time session member Shawn Priest, Arsis have hit a new level of superb instrumental proficiency. The title track starts the record off with a bombardment of fast thrash riffing, pummelling drum work and some technical flourishes, while "Carve My Cross" contains intense groove, with a slower pace and memorable hooks, as well as epic guitar solos. There are unorthodox time changes aplenty throughout, particularly on "Let Me Be the One," which features intricate melodies and an unpredictable song pattern that leaves the listener wanting more. A pleasant surprise is a brilliant cover of Corey Hart's '80s pop hit "Sunglasses at Night," which Arsis have reworked into an extreme, brutal masterpiece. While Unwelcome is a step back to the band's origins, they've also progressed, with better songwriting, tighter musicianship and quality production, resulting in a record that rivals their stellar 2004 debut, A Celebration of Guilt.
(Nuclear Blast)

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