Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast
James Malone and crew return with their fourth full-length album, and it’s a cracking slice of technical melodeath, something slightly different from 2008’s WE ARE THE NIGHTMARE. Malone personally has been through a rather trying couple of years between 2008 and the present, battling anorexia and alternating between the eating disorder and alcoholism. Cancelled tours, filming mishaps, line-up changes and just basic bad luck have dogged this guy and Arsis, but hopefully STARVE FOR THE DEVIL marks a new beginning for them – the title itself referencing what Malone himself called “one of the classic metal albums of all time” (Motley Crue’s SHOUT AT THE DEVIL?) but is also a wry poke at the problems Malone has suffered.
The catchiness of the songwriting has been ramped up to a heinously sinful degree on STARVE FOR THE DEVIL. Where 2008’s WE ARE THE NIGHTMARE was heavily weighted towards the “tech” end of the spectrum, STARVE FOR THE DEVIL puts a heavy premium on melody and hooks that stick in the mind for ages and ages. The technicality has been scaled down and brought under control; perhaps Malone and co. no longer feel the need to engage in spastically shifting time changes and shape-shifting riffs – which I find refreshing.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is an easy album to get. In no way is this an “accessible” album. While the sheer ambition of the 13 minute long death metal epic title track on their 2005 EP A DIAMOND FOR DISEASE is yet to be matched (or even replicated), there is much to reward the listener, whether the sly humour in referencing traditional metal on ‘Forced To Rock’ (which would not be out of place on a Grave Digger album), the thrash and melodeath overtones on ‘Half Past Corpse O’Clock’ (very Children of Bodom, I must say), the bouncy upbeatness of ‘Sable Rising’, the bluesy bass break and trad metal glory on ‘Beyond Forlorn’, or just the damn catchiness of ‘Sick Perfection’…
It’s a complete turn-around from WE ARE THE NIGHTMARE, and is probably their best album so far. Good effort, and good luck to them!