Monday, 4 February 2013

Arius - biography and review

ARIUS - biography
This American death metal band was based in Swanton, Ohio, and first was called Eviscerate, when was formed back in 1992. The founding members were: Matt Moyer (guitar), Shane McConnell (drums), Damon Conn (guitar) and Lucas Kummer (bass). After a while it was Lucas, who decided to take over the microphone and in this line up Eviscerate played several gigs and started intense rehearsing. Soon later the band lost Damon in 1993, due to his graduation from BGSU, with Bachelors in Music Theory. He later joined another Ohio death metal band, From the Depths, and recorded an album “From the Depths” in 1996 before quitting playing. Meanwhile Eviscerate was playing as the three-piece for a year, until they recruited ex-Ahriman guitarist Bryan Autullo in 1994. Matt then shifted his focus to lead guitar and Bryan filled up the rhythm guitar slot. From this moment the band played several gigs in Toledo, spreading their name around and finally getting an opportunity to play at the Michigan Death Fest. But somewhere in 1994 Eviscerate was contacted by a lawyer that said the band was infringing on the copyright of Evicerate from Colorado. So the moniker was quickly changed for Arius. The name came from a Roman diplomat whose name was Arius. He was the first Roman to deny the divinity of Christ, and was a principal entity in having him crucified. This change was also important to reflect the more philosophical nature of the lyrics, comparing the previous stuff, which was more gore / death oriented. In May 1995 the time came to record the first demo, so Arius entered RT Audio in Detroit (which is the same place, where Gutted recorded their phenomenal “Bleed us to Live” LP). „The Last Suffer" was recorded and produced in one weekend with engineer Rob Tylak. Matt Moyer said: “Thirty hours of hectic recording, and producing!! This is where much of our personal philosophies about life and religion intertwined with the pure violence and hatred and aggression lyrically and musically.”. The demo contains four songs (“Eviscerated”, “Kein Gott”, “Pronounced Dead” and “The Last Suffer”) of quite typical US death metal in the vein of Gutted, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse and Monstrosity, but one can surely spot that the demo contained a solid and worthy material. Here’s what Matt said about one of the songs from the demo: "Kein Gott's" lyrics are all in German. "Kein Gott's" translation is the act of there being no God. Being from Switzerland, where there are no national religions, Lucas was brought up in a christian society in America. These views went against the atheistic views of the Swiss. So, this track is Lucas's release of his views of years of christianity being forced on him by society when he wasn't brought up to believe in christianity. The national language of Switzerland is German, so he very easily wrote lyrics in German, and then poured over a German dictionary to make sure each word was correct.”. Soon after its release the demo was picked up by Relapse Records for distribution. This is what Matt says about the story of Arius after the demo was released: “We were picked up by Relapse for distribution, but quickly dropped, because we felt we didn't belong there at the time. They had a lot of noisy bands back then, with bad production and many horror stories. We released and promoted the "The Last Suffer" with no support and no money. We did shows in Cleveland and Detroit and broke out of our small scene. We then went on to the International Death Fest V in Knocksville, TN. That was about the time that death metal hit rock bottom. Bands lose their labels, labels folded. We realized that we may never get signed. These developments forced Bryan to leave the band in '96.” After Bryan left, Arius played as the three-piece for a while, before they found new guitarist Matt Davis in late 1997. “We began gigging and developed Godless Productions to support the Toledo scene. We struggled through crappy clubs, all out riots, and even a gun fight! We then began writing for our long time coming CD, "Mask of Sanity".”. Supposedly Arius had about eight songs ready for this album and planned to enter the studio around 1998/99, but I have absolutely no information whether that have ever happened and I can only guess that Arius split up, before anything occurred. So “The Last Suffer” remains the only release of this cool US death metal band.

ARIUS - The Last Suffer (Demo 1995)
Recorded: Recorded and mixed at RT Studio. Produced by Arius and Rob Tylak. Mixed and mastered by Rob Tylak.
Recording line up: Lukas Kummer (Bass, Vocals), Shane McConnell (Drums), Matt Moyer (Guitars), Bryan Autullo     (Guitars, Keyboards)
Review: Back in the mid 90’s the death metal scene was so overcrowded that many really cool underground death metal bands couldn’t get through and never got the attention they probably deserved. I could mention really so many bands like that; among them there are those, which even managed to put out an album, like Gutted, Morgue, Burial (Netherlands), Sempiternal Deathreign, Merciless Death (Poland) and so many, which just never went anywhere further than a demo or EP… Evocation, Adversary, Excavation, Mastication, Purulence, Agoraphobia… Uhh, that list can be really, really long. But yeah, the fact is those were great bands, but they just couldn’t breakthrough. That happened just because the scene was hugely overcrowded and soon magazines and the labels lost interest in signing or writing about the next death metal band. They all moved to black metal, which seemed to be more exciting and dangerous. Luckily the underground lives on and most of those old recordings, even from bands, which never got popular, have been saved and often it’s now a time, when they more get attention that 20 years ago. And it’s great, because those recordings, like demos or EPs, were special. They had unique music and great dark atmosphere, which later on was missed for 15 years (only recently many young death metal bands managed to recreate that feeling). Many of these recordings got re-issed on CD or LP (Nirvana2002, Utumno, Uncanny, Altar, Ceremonial Oath, Disgrace… oh, so, so many!!!!!!!!) and many I got to know only thanks to the download blogs, which like raf666 or lockjaw, which offer these old demos for a free download, taking them right from the old cassettes. This is how I got to know demos from bands like Purulence, Adversary, Agoraphobia, Excavation, Decomposed, to mention just were few… And I think this is killer stuff! Another such great, forgotten band is Arius. I can realize that this band will be completely unknown to 99,9% of people, who read this… and to be honest, I also have never heard of them until I downloaded their demo and decided to check them out. They were just completely unknown and unlike say Purulence, who had a Gorguts guitarist in the line up, Arius moniker was never popping up in any interviews or wherever. No one would remember this band; hardly anyone would mention their demo. I really do bet that 99,9% of people, who’ll read this review won’t have any idea about Arius. So, it is time to change that and recommend Arius, as I can assure you that it’s an awesome death metal jewel from the mid 90’s. Arius was an American death metal band, formed in 1992 and “The Last Suffer” was their only recording, a demo which they did in 1995. Style wise this is pretty much nothing more or less, but a classic US styled death metal. If you’ll think of such bands as Gutted (GODS!), Monstrosity (“Imperial Doom” LP), early Suffocation, Malevolent Creation and some European acts like Cancer and the Swedish masters of slaughter Vomitory, then you may have a picture of what Arius and “The Last Suffer” were like. Even the vocalist Lukas Kummer sounded here like George Corpsegrinder from the time of the early Monstrosity recordings hehe! And right from the first song – “Eviscerated” – which is a 6,5 minute long death metal slaughter one will have a chance to fully embrace all the values of Arius: there’s everything one can only like in the US death metal. Blasting, full brutal slaughter, many mid paced or even slow, doomy riffs… and riffs, which are not too technical, but often even quite memorable. “Kein Gott” will even surprise you with a doomy, heavy riff, with the keyboards playing some dark tunes in the background. But these songs – also due to the fact they’re all quite lengthy – are all very varied and will never be just a constant blasting all the time through or whatever. And the atmosphere will always be just dark and gloomy as hell. Arius may not really have any unusual riffs and honestly “The Last Suffer” is very typical material for those times, but that doesn’t mean their music was boring and not that good. It is actually completely opposite and I must say that when I listen to it nowadays I really, really like Arius and also can just recommend you all digging this demo out from somewhere and give it a listen as it is truly a great stuff. It definitely is one of those releases, which also deserve being exhumed and re-released on vinyl or CD nowadays. So, please check this band out!
Best song: “Kein Gott”
Final rate: 85/100

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