Arsis – September 3, 2014 – Santos Party House – New York City, NYThursday, 4th September 2014
In my metal tenure, I’ve never gotten to witness Arsis in the live setting despite their touring escapades. When this tour was announced, with Arsis playing the entirety of A Celebration of Guilt, plus the addition of Allegaeon (who I’ve been dying to see since they started up) and Exmortus, this was an offer too good to refuse. Even if it did come on the first official day back to school, knowing full well I’d get about 3 hours of sleep and have to go in and teach the next day. Ringing ears, sore neck, and exhaustion still flowing through my system as I type; a badge of pride for the second day of school after a blissful night of metal such as this.
Never hearing of Santos Party House until this tour announcement, it was an interesting trip getting there (living about 2 hours from NYC, I am not the greatest driver when I’m there) but I made it just as local act Skepsis took the stage. Some metalcore/melodic death influenced material that was on the catchier end of things. Some nice hooks and a mix of clean/harsh vocals were the highlight of their set. A solid amount of stage movement as well; you can tell they knew how to play their instruments well and were able to energize their set. Next up was Black Paradise, offering up some black/death metal. They had a keyboard player and kept things tasteful and heavy, never approaching the “cheesy” side of things (as keyboards sometimes do) and played a rather punishing set. Of particular note were a few of the solos, which were especially ear-catching and nicely setting up the remainder of the evening.
Exmortus took the stage and knocked everyone’s socks off. Their latest release, Slave to the Sword, was excellent but doesn’t do justice to the band’s live energy. The way the band performs their antics with their instruments and wields them with masterful precision is flat-out stunning. Even the drummer gets in on the fun! It’s hard not to break a smile while they are doing their thing. The biggest highlight of their set had to be “Moonlight Sonata (Act 3).” Sans any vocals, watching the band just doing some neo-classical shredding really conveyed not only how crazy they can get with their instruments, but how skilled they are as players. They’ve been on the road quite a bit lately; definitely check them out if you get the chance.
I was able to make a brief introduction/say hello to Allegaeon guitarist Greg Burgess between the local acts and he had jokingly stated, “Hopefully we don’t suck.” Talk about being humble. Opening with “Threshold of Perception,” it didn’t take long for the band to win over the crowd with their fun-loving live energy. Never taking themselves too seriously, despite the serious bludgeoning of their music (a major part of why my neck is still sore), they owned the stage. Lots of amusing faces and ball-tapping alongside their brand of technical melodic death metal riffage made for a nice spectacle and it’s clear the band and it’s most recent members have really meshed well. Some other songs in their all-too-short set list included “Behold (God I Am),” “Biomech,” “1.618” (which featured a guest appearance by “the crab”), and “The God Particle.” Someone get this band a headlining tour, they are definitely ready for it!
Finally, it was Arsis’ turn to take the stage. After the more wild stage antics of the two previous bands, Arsis had more of a serious approach, but no less deadly. A long-time favorite album, A Celebration of Guilt is just as menacing onstage as through the home speakers. Despite turning ten years old, it still stands up quite well against anything that is being released currently and quite deserving of its “cult” status. Some of these songs had never been played live before (such as “Looking to Nothing”), which was quite cool to hear. Some highlights were the ripping “Maddening Disdain,” “Return,” “Seven Whispers Fell Silent” (such a massive riff), and “Wholly Night.” Surely, this will be the only time that some of these songs will ever be played, so this is a real treat for any long-time Arsis fan. All in all, an excellent start to the packed fall touring season.