Monday, April 6, 2009

These Arms Are Snakes - Tail Swallower and Dove

Admittedly, I’m more or less a n00b when it comes to These Arms Are Snakes, having been only acquainted with the band for about six months. I was, however, vaguely aware of Kill Sadie and Botch whose alumni comprise TAAS. After my homie (who possesses excellent taste in music across the board) convinced me to go to this show, I was sold.

Before I continue, I just want to point out that although “post-hardcore” would be an adequate label for TAAS’s genre overriding sound, the term rings false to me. A descriptor that exists only in the minds of journalists- as no band, that I know of at least, has ever affixed “post” to the description of how they sound. And besides, if I were going to fabricate a label I’d be more descriptive: say, mathematical sludge-core.

Experimental but not in a pretentious just-for-the-sake-of way; TAAS combines razor-sharp, polyrhythmic drumming; bruising, industrial strength guitars with plenty of distortion and a dash of electronics for added weirdness and atmosphere; to form a juggernaut of tightly interlocking parts- a dystopic sonic frame for manic vocalist Steve Snere. The comparisons to Ian Mckaye I keep hearing don’t tell the whole story. Snere’s singing does sound a bit like Mckaye but his screaming is nothing like Minor Threat. In the tradition of great Seattle vocalists past, he possesses the innate talent of making his scream somewhat musical rather than just abrasive. Snere’s attitude, which is considerable to begin with, is enhanced exponentially via his deft use of Korg’s Kaos Pad. He uses this contraption to distend and contort his vox into a formidable weapon.

Despite the cryptic the title, Tail Swallower and Dove doesn’t waste any time beating around the bush. Opener Woolen Heirs forgoes any formalities, promptly delivering a five-fingered message to the face. The chunky layered guitars and chugging rhythm have a proggy almost Tool-esque sound. Red Line Season, apparently the first “single”, is a galloping four-to-the-floor kamikaze freak out with Snere as the maniacal pilot. His demented growl rises to a shriek at the conclusion; one of the heaviest moments on the whole album. At barely two and a half minutes long Lucifer was efficiently designed to inflict maximum impact. Beginning with an angular distorted synth riff the track has an absolutely crazy breakdown of spastic drums and Snere’s Kaos Pad-warped howl.

Overall, this album is a dexterous mix of muscular aggression and moody tension. Alternately bludgeoning (Seven Curtains, Prince Squid) and uh “slithering” insidiously (Long & Lonely Step, Briggs)- sometimes in the course of one song (Ethric Double). Highly recommended for anyone seeking an adrenalin infusion.

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