When it comes to seminal death metal bands from North America, the East Coast alone boasts the likes of the genre's greatest staples: Death, Cynic, Morbid Angel, Immolation, and Nile. Perhaps in response to Virginia's political conservativism and the state's legacy of the Baptist religion (in addition to being known as 'Mother of Presidents' because it is the birthplace of eight former U.S. presidents), it's no surprise that band founder/songwriter/guitarist/lead vocalist James Malone adopted a mantra of courageous insurgence and very early on in his life – especially in the musical realm. ARSIS, which derived its name from the musical term "arsis and thesis" meaning unstressed (up-) and stressed (down-) beats respectively, makes music that is righteously tinged with black & thrash metal influences, but is completely dedicated to expanding the reaches of melodicism and technicality in the genre of death metal.
Brought together through a mutual respect for King Diamond and formed during Christmas vacation in Boston in 2000 by Berklee College of Music students James Malone (an already skilled violinist and a composition major) and double-bass connoisseur Mike Van Dyne (a drum performance major and rumored octopus), the duo recorded a 3-song demo in 2001 and a 5-song demo in 2002 simply to amuse themselves over winter break.
Thanks to the favorable feedback they received, ARSIS became a live and full-time endeavor. After only one month of being an 'official' band, and with only five live shows to their credit (utilizing session musicians for second guitar and bass), Malone and Van Dyne signed a deal with Willowtip Records to release their 2004 debut, A Celebration Of Guilt, and began exploring life on the road soon after. Much to the band's surprise, A Celebration Of Guilt seized the spotlight by clinching one of the ultimate honors possible for a brand-new technical, melodic death metal band: being praised by Revolver Magazine for creating "the best [album] in the genre since At The Gates' legendary swan song [Slaughter Of The Soul]." Thus, these relatively unknown musicians were suddenly awarded the status of saviors to a waning genre. With a firm reputation to upkeep, an inspired EP followed in 2005. A Diamond For Disease featured a 13-minute title track that took four months to write, and was hailed as 'a multi-movement death metal masterwork' by Decibel Magazine. The song was commissioned for exclusive use by the New York-based Ballet Deviare.
That year, as ARSIS continued to tour, they employed various live session musicians and continued to accumulate many avid supporters among the metal underground, the metal press, and amongst metal musicians themselves. Entering Max Trax Studios in Albany, New York and teaming up with producer Eyal Levi in 2006 to record their sophomore full-length album United In Regret, ARSIS placed a higher emphasis on technical complexity and on song structure, earning them kudos from New York's Village Voice for being 'American death metal at its best.' Throughout 2006, ARSIS toured the U.S. extensively with Necrophagist, Neuraxis, Alarum, Dead to Fall, Misery Signals, The Faceless, All Shall Perish, Napalm Death, and A Life Once Lost.
After securing a new record deal with Nuclear Blast Records, Van Dyne left the band to pursue studies in medical imaging. Not one to risk losing momentum and to ensure the best possible performers for the band's new label debut, Malone recruited ex-Burn In Silence drummer Darren Cesca, second guitarist Ryan Knight, and bassist Noah Martin (who did session work on United In Regret). The band toured relentlessly throughout North America with Enslaved, with God Forbid, Goatwhore, Mnemic & Byzantine on the Chains Of Humanity Tour, and with Necrophagist, Decapitated & Cephalic Carnage on the Summer Slaughter Tour.
With a solidified line-up that would put conservatory valedictorians to shame in the name of metal, Malone set out to hone the musical mission he entrusted himself with since Day One. Produced by Zeuss (Agnostic Front, Hatebreed, Municipal Waste) at Planet-Z Studios in Massachusetts, mastered by Alan Douches (Kataklysm, Unearth, Shadows Fall), and featuring the grotesque and meticulous artwork of Mark Riddick (a relationship that stems back to the band's first album), 2008's We Are The Nightmare further expands the band's repertoire and proudly showcases why ARSIS are well on their way to making their discography absolutely essential for any fan with an extreme music library.
So, while 2008 marked the release of the ARSIS Nuclear Blast debut, it also marked the departure of Darren Cesca, Ryan Knight and Noah Martin for various reasons, leaving only James Malone to rebuild ARSIS as well as his personal life. Enter Nicholas Cordle, a long-time aqquaintance on Malone's who was originally hired to replace Noah Martin on bass duties for a tour. Cordle, a graduate of the University of Virginia and guitar prodigy, did wonders to help motivate James Malone continue with ARSIS. When Ryan Knight left ARSIS to join The Black Dahlia Murder, Cordle switched from playing bass in ARSIS to playing guitar, and began working with James on the material that would become Starve For The Devil. A few months later, original drummer Mike Van Dyne agreed to re-join the band, and ARSIS was almost complete again.
In August 2009, just prior to entering Planet-Z studios once again, a long time friend of Cordle's was asked to audition for the vacant bass position. The bassist's name is Nathaniel Carter, and he impressed the band and producer Zeuss so much that he has now become a permanent member of ARSIS. With a new found motivation, ARSIS set out to further spread the message of metal. 2010 saw the release of Starve For The Devil, supported by relentless touring throughout North America and Europe.