When: Sat., Nov. 19, 9 p.m. 2016
A new release from Chicago art-metal quartet Arriver is always an event, in part because their music is always spectacular and challenging, and in part because their choice of theme and subject matter is always surprising and deep—this is, after all, the band that devoted a whole album, 2012’s Tsushima, to a significant sea battle in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Their third full-length, the new Emeritus (Scioto), features hypnotic cover art by Karolina Kowalczyk and focuses on the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which by now seems like a dystopian science-fiction story, and gives it a folkloric, mythic spin—in short, the wrath of a horribly malevolent nuclear godling wreaks havoc on hubristic mankind. Arriver bring the musical muscle to brace their ambitious conceits, and Emeritus is the most powerful union of sound and theme they’ve managed yet. The Sullivan brothers, Rob and Dan, plus guitarist Dan MacAdam and drummer Joe Kaplan layered each track with architectural care and precision, grounding the heroic-but-doomed charge of “Liquidators” and the shimmering, shivering oncoming horror of “The Demon Core” in a nightmarishly detailed sonic hyperreality. By the time we reach the epic ending track, “Emeritus: The Zone of Exclusion,” the sheer technical dazzle of the playing represents a grand and vivacious counterpoint to the death and decomposition it paints.