Starve For the Devil

I had been sort of a casual fan of Arsis before the release of the extraordinary We Are the Nightmare, but that album took my fandom to a whole new level and made me appreciate the two albums and EP before it even more. I felt the inclusion of drummer Darren Cesca on that album brought their game up several notches, pushing main man James Malone that much harder and striking upon a great balance of supreme technicality and catchy melody. But no sooner than he was in the band, he was out. The return of original/founding skinsman Mike Van Dyne eased any fears of where the band might be heading, but with the release of Starve For the Devil, I can’t help but feel they fell short of their potential.

The overall vibe of the album is kinda rock-ish, from the song structures down to some of the smaller musical nuances throughout the album, and a great reduction in technicality. Album opener “Forced to Rock” is perhaps the best example this – it’s a good song and gets the head banging, but the shift is immediately apparent. Malone’s playing is still impressive and at times dazzling, but within the context of simpler and more straight forward structures, which makes it feel somewhat restrained.

One of my biggest gripes of the album though is just how much better and more memorable the first half is compared to the second – it’s extremely top heavy. Most of the tracks from the second half, with the exception of the humorously titled “Half Past Corpse O’Clock”, feel like half baked filler. The yawn inducing “Closer to Cold”, “Escape Artist” and exceptionally dull closer “Sable Rising” pale in comparison to the shredtastic “The Ten of Swords”, the smooth hooks of “Beyond Forlorn” or the impossible-not-to-headbang-to “A March For the Sick”.

Starve For the Devil isn’t a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s far from Arsis‘ shining moment. Those who felt We Are the Nightmare was too technical and pined for the band’s sound circa A Celebration of Guilt will most likely be more than pleased with this.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
March 9th, 2010


  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I am digging this, thought Forced to Rock was a fun romp but the rest of it is pretty straightforward killer Arsis. Much better songwriting than the dull, cramped technicality of United in Regret although I agree that ACoG and WatN have been their shining moments.

  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Carcass has been mentioned alot in Arsis’s early stuff. This is there Heartwork

  3. Commented by: Matt

    Doubt they’ll ever top A Celebration of Guilt or A Diamond For Disease…I think I’ll just stick with those.

  4. Commented by: AARONIUS

    Y’know I’ve heard countless people compare Arsis to Carcass, and for the life of me I don’t hear it.

    Maybe it’s just me, but Arsis has a really “tinny” (Really it could be labeled “American”) and raw sound, whereas Carcass always had a really bass heavy, big studio produced kind of sound.

    Is Malone’s guitar playing so similar to Mike Amott’s? That’s the only thing I can think of that might be similar in tone to Carcass’s sound.

    Also I can’t understand the Heartwork hate either (I don’t necessarily think Erik was slamming Heartwork persay). I mean to me that was Carcass’s shining moment, and a lot of guys seem to think that was when they “sold out”.

    I just don’t get it, I guess I’m just getting too old.

  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Heartwork was their peak imo. Don’t get me wrong I love Necroticism too but it’s more monotonous compared to Heartwork, which is entertaining from start to finish.

  6. Commented by: mccumberv

    If the video for Forced to Rock had never been put out then they (Arsis) wouldnt be catching all this flak for selling out or dumbing down, the music is still technical and the songs are still good. If you put all 43 Arsis songs in your playlist and put it on random, all these new songs would fit right in and you wouldnt know the difference. Its the same shit.

  7. Commented by: Staylow

    I disagree with that. I’ve had this opinion since I first heard the album back in early January or December or whenever it was – before that video debuted, I know that, so that isn’t coloring my views. The material here is a little different and more straight forward, and not quite as…menacing as before. I’ve listened to it about 25 times, looking for a spark, for something to truly click, but it never really did, unfortunately.

  8. Commented by: faust666
  9. Commented by: Storm King

    I agree with mccumberv; remove “Forced to Rock” from the equation and this is still Arsis. A bit more direct and straight forward, but still the same band to me. Arsis had gotten a little lost in their technicality over the past few CDs for me, so this is a welcome change. It IS rather front loaded, almost like the track selection for a vinyl album where side one gets all the singles. A Celebration of Guilt is still their masterpiece though.

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