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Classification is hard, and truly defining genre beyond the standard points of definition is difficult (those of us who studied music truly know how nuanced genre can get). In black and death metal? Not so much - aside from a few designations like "atmospheric" (like black metal doesn't concentrate on that anyway), "brutal," "post-"...even more difficult beasts can be imbued with the "Avant-Garde" tag if the underlying genre can be fully identified. Arriver, on the other hand, made the Metal-Archives moderators throw their hands up in the air in defeat, settling on "Various."

So what does "Various" mean in this specific case? Well, for one, Arriver is strange, though I suppose a better word for it would be unique. Following the adventurous Tsushima (BloodLust!, 2012), Arriver's third album shows this Chicago-based unit continuing to push buttons and haphazardly fuse styles with a high success rate. But what makes it strange? Well, it's difficult where exactly you could put your thumb and fully define Emeritus. Yes, there are moments in which you could say, "Okay, Arriver is a progressive death-and-or-black metal band," and moments like "The Demon Core"'s explosive opening or the bouncing closing moments of "Liquidators" certainly back that, as well as Rob and Dan Sullivan's harsh dual vocal performance, but those only create a superficial blanket which belies a kaleidoscopic array of performing styles. Take, for example, the aforementioned "Demon Core," whose thrashy, blackened entrance suddenly morphs into jangling, progressive psychedelia (no doubt a lingering influence of the Sullivan brothers' tenure in the legendary Songs: Ohia), or the long-form, Al Di Meola-meets-Shellac solo section centerpiece of the album's eponymous closer. Simply put, there is a lot going on here, and, while I suppose the blanket statement of "Progressive Death/Black Metal" to which Arriver has been attributed this time around fits in specific moments, Arriver is the rare exception to the classification rule, creating a near-seamless quilt of many colors and patterns. "Various," indeed.

December 2nd marks the official release of the difficult-to-pin-down Emeritus on Scioto Records. Join me in putting all the pieces of Arriver's varied puzzle together with an exclusive advance stream of the album below.

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