THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

In the past the guys in THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES have absolutely destroyed the limits of what one would consider to be post-hardcore. Both on the EP This Was Meant To Hurt You and then their debut full-length Oxeneers Or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, the Seattle-based band took elements of the genre and proceeded to twist, turn, and eventually disfigure them to form a sound so unstructured, so harsh and yet so pleasing and rewarding that it actually produced something magnificent. The same characteristics that made them so unique in the past are still present on their second full-length titled Easter, yet somehow they’ve managed to top themselves in the process.

Musically, Easter doesn’t stray too far from the path that was laid on Oxeneers, but there are certainly new, greater elements in place. With the arrival of new drummer and producer Chris Common, the songs on Easter carry a ton of rhythmic weight especially when considering Brian Cook’s basslines. "Horse Girl" is a prime example of this as Cook’s basslines hit so hard it sounds like he replaced his strings with muscles and tendons that vibrate with excruciating force. Moreover, Ryan Frederickson’s guitar riffs are as sinewy and powerful as ever, driving songs such as "Subtle Body" and "Abracadabra" with his signature distortions. The former is one of the album’s longest tracks at six-minutes yet THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES never come close to attention-losing territory. The riffs and basslines, when combined with Steve Snere’s uncanny shouting, sound absolutely ferocious during the last minutes of the song, escalating into an array of noisy distortions. Because their songs rarely contain anything resembling a chorus, the songs on Easter are short on hooks but do feature plenty of memorable moments, whether it comes courtesy of Snere or not. "Horse Girl" succeeds purely because of its dueling riffs and basslines whereas "Deer Lodge" stands out as one of the album’s most complete tracks as the pulsating riffs, tempo changes, and Snere’s singing all cooperate to form one amazing adventure. "Perpetual Bris" is the oddest track on the album as Snere turns in his normal vocals for a less-harsh tone that, when paired with an acoustic background, sounds as if though it could have appeared on any MEWITHOUTYOU album. I suppose the song’s references to biblical topics such as Abraham, Lazarus, and shepards doesn’t diminish the comparison either (even if the two bands seem to have contrasting opinions). In a sense, "Perpetual Bris" acts as an intro to the relaxed beginning of "Coporeal." Almost seven-minutes in length, "Coporeal" contains over three-minutes of added music that technically goes nowhere, but acts as a form of epic closing material despite the fact that it isn’t the last song.

With Easter, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES take their often cynical outlook on social themes to the next level. Whereas Oxeneers was focused more on greed and the life as a banker, Easter weighs in on deeper themes such as religion, deserts, and ghosts, according to the band. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything of the sort in Snere’s mind-boggling lyrics. Often hidden in abstract metaphors not unlike THE BLOOD BROTHERS, Snere’s approach is often so obtuse that conclusions are hard to come by. However, there’s a certain sense of darkness and unhappiness that runs through the release, culminating with these cryptic words at the end of "Crazy Woman Dirty Train": "though it was love that pumped through these veins, I was also loved once/ once/ there is a gaping hole there now/ there is nothing inside of compassion, of happiness/ it’s all black, onyx black/ I cut like scissors, make the wound deeper, and I work the hole bigger till I can see bone, blood."

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES may not be the happiest band playing in the genre they apparently represent, yet the music composed on Easter does little to leave the listener unsatisfied. Bold, meticulous, and out-right spine-tingling, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES performance on Easter walks a path into unparalleled territory, something the band has done since there inception and will hopefully continue to do as they progress into a monstrous force.

THERE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

Upon hearing the two major post-Botch groups — Minus the Bear and These Arms Are Snakes — I was immediately drawn to the former. There was something so striking about the way Minus the Bear could be simultaneously dancy, techy, and poppy. I bought all their records and became a devoted fan, but as I was drawn back to These Arms for subsequent listens my initial ambivalence became fascination. Although I haven’t yet invested in hard copies of any their records — this will change with Easter — whenever I listen to their songs on my computer I am reminded that while they may not receive the same fanfare as Minus the Bear — who have opened for Thursday — their unique blend of aggression, passages that groove and lull, and skewed sexual atmosphere is certainly compelling. Quite simply they are a more subtle group than Minus the Bear; their music is not as poppy and infectious and their lyrics are ambiguous and experimental.

What’s curious to me is that although the principal songwriter and driving-force behind Botch’s mastery, David Knudson, is in Minus the Bear, the sound that These Arms creates on Easter and their previous records seems like the logical progression of Botch, had they not disbanded in 2002. This may sound like a stretch, but Botch’s implosion demonstrates that they were unhappy playing brutal music, and thus if they had continued their sound would have undergone major evolution; they were too forward-thinking a group to not do so and songs such as “Afghamistam” from their swan song An Anthology of Dead Ends evince a hint of that progression.

All of Botch’s essential elements are present with These Arms, albeit in a mutated form: the snaky guitar riffs soaked in effects, the barked vocals, although this time more spoken than screamed, a chilling, portentous atmosphere pervading each song, an epic, towering quality to the music regardless of song length, and overall an arty, avant-garde vibe that eludes categorization or comparison to seemingly related peers. People also often forget that though Botch could be theoretically labeled math-metal, their music relied heavily on repetition; unlike, say, Between the Buried and Me’s catalog where each segment of a song is new. Botch’s musical structuring didn’t come in the traditional sense of a chorus, but themes recurred. A cursory listen of Minus the Bear and These Arms reveals the same reliance on reiteration.

And now to Easter. In an in-studio report in the UK publication Rock Sound, the band was asked why they selected that album title. They replied that it was sort of a response to the recent prevalence of Christianity in the punk/hardcore/indie music scene, a phenomenon they found peculiar and incongruous with the counterculture spirit upon which said scene was founded. What this means in terms of the record’s subject matter is difficult to say, given the band’s penchant for vagueness, but perhaps the group appropriated the title as a jab at overly serious bible-thumpers.

Admittedly there doesn’t appear to be much difference between the music of Oxeneers and Easter except that the band continues its trend of “trimming the fat” from previous releases. Every song feels tight and streamlined yet still possesses the organic, uninhibited feel that makes the group so gripping. As is my custom, instead of a track-by-track analysis I will describe the album’s most important songs. In all honesty, I could happily discuss every track, like “Abracadabraca”—which is an excellent non-Steve Miller cover, and even the obligatory acoustic song, “Perpetual Bris,” which is actually quite good, especially because of the name.

After a swath of spacey effects, Easter launches into “Mescaline Eyes,” a track that even a casual listener would characterize as vintage These Arms. The opening riff evokes one my favorite from Botch’s catalog, one I like to call the “skyscraper” riff from “Vietmam” that begins at 1:45. I call it this because as it yawns through the rain-choked air it creates the effect of fashioning a massive structure to rival the Space Needle. As “Mescaline Eyes” reaches the two-minute mark vocalist Steve Snere (is that really his surname since it so aptly conveys his delivery) demonstrates why he is one of the more versatile and engaging frontmen in the scene. His vocal cadence effortlessly alternates between mimicking and counteracting the guitar rhythm. The band plays also plays with time changes before transitioning from a punchy, repetitive riff to the one that opened the song.

“Horse Girl” is the first taste that fans were given to the new record and it would be the perfect choice for a lead single if the mainstream listened to good music. Increasing the tempo of “Mescaline Eyes,” “Horse Girl” proves that music need not be inane techno to make you dance. The highlight of the song comes at its crescendo where Snere switches from his spoken bark to a full-blown scream of “Yeahhh! Oh, Yeahhh!” And I assure you, it does not sound cheesy.

It is worth taking a paragraph (or a few) to discuss Snere’s unique and mesmerizing vocal technique and lyrical flow in general, but which has been fully realized on Easter. Even when he disappears for a minute to allow the music the forefront, his relentless presence has been beaten into the song. Strangely, the listener also hardly notices that Snere was gone at all. He rarely relies on singing as his voice is hardly melodic, and since he seldom delivers a proper scream or the approach du jour—cookie monster growl, he does not resort to inhuman aural bludgeoning, which in many ways is a refusal to accept the capabilities of one’s normal voice. It must be that his vocals are at once tireless and natural. An apt literary comparison would be the poet Allen Ginsberg. Anyone who remembers reading an abbreviated version of Howl in a high school English class knows that it was a mouthful; the literal shape of the poem consists of bloated lines that tumble towards the margin. If Snere’s lyrics were thus arranged they would assume an analogous form. Ginsberg also relied on spontaneity, thinking expression would only be weakened by revision, and would often concoct his exhausting compositions while in trance.

Even if Snere spent years on his words, his effortless delivery belies this, as if he were a possessed rapper, freestyling to the sea foaming around him, and spitting something like Ginsberg’s own famous stanza, “angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.” Notice how the lack of punctuation augments the energetic effect. Snere’s lyrics certainly echo the sentiment of being beaten down, one of the impetuses for the term “beat”, although vocally he convinces the listener otherwise, as if he does not know his own strength. Even when the very words he utters are unintelligible, because of previous lyrics, snatches the listener are able to discern, and song atmosphere, he or she knows that perfectly fitting impressionistic images are being imparted amid echoing chaos.

“Subtle Body” may be the record’s finest track and it returns to the drawn-out style of This Is Meant to Hurt You. It also demonstrates perhaps the best evolution of the Botch sound. The throbbing guitars and crunchy bass in the song’s initial passage establish the foreboding atmosphere These Arms develops so well. They are masters at transitions, such as the one at 1:07, as the deceptively groovy bass before the following wave-like guitar runs attests. Snere’s lyrics are strong here and color the threatening vibe erotic, comparing a butterfly to the muscles in his back. After an extended chant the band commences the closest thing you’ll hear to a hardcore breakdown in a These Arms song. Just after this and?°¦ wait, did he just say “I think I’d look nice in your lawn?" Anyways, the band demonstrates that while their sound may be chaotic and ominous, they are never truly dissonant, with a sexy guitar line beginning around 5:27.

The last track, entitled “Crazy Woman Dirty Train,” is another incorporating the entirety of the These Arms’ assault. The first four minutes are pure musical bliss, especially at 1:55 where the band encapsulates regality and then lulls the listener while really chilling him, wanting him not to move from that spot until it is no longer possible. I don’t understand how a band can evoke a king descending from his castle clad in jewels to be welcomed by his kingdom and suddenly the mind is jarred as imagery of an entire subway train of people becomes bloodied. Come to think of it, I don’t want to and that is why I love Easter.

In the final two minutes the tapestry that hung in the castle is now a frenzied one woven by the band: Snere exploding then wailing, bleeding in the background and a random, distorted female voice superimposed over the madness. Although Snere’s pleas for help, sense, anything he hasn’t obtained through the course of the album, seem to grow fainter, the listener still wonders naively why this female voice, ostensibly an operator, cannot do a thing. It’s a brilliant aural palimpsest and Botch would be proud. I’ll say this only once because that’s all it will take for the backlash: quietly These Arms have managed to create an album that, while it may not rival We Are the Romans in terms of influential capacity, nears it in execution. It’s catchy in a slowly-realize-you-are-whistling-an-angular-post-hardcore-band’s-music kind of way while still remaining challenging.

5/5

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

It takes a while for Easter to get comfortable, to find its proper place. After a first listen its hooks come as elusive and the immediacy that was so evident in the previous Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, seems to have been replaced by a dismissive flatness. First cut “Mescaline Eyes” adheres to the same mold of any of the best of Oxeneers’ songs, and the same could be said about any of the first six tracks, but a few tracks into the record it’s clear that TAAS’S latest is a more complex and moodier work. As such it takes more of the listener to fully experience. For starters this record works better as a whole; it flawlessly flows, but taken by pieces sounds lacking. Each track sort of represents a particular mood, which isolated lacks the setting and with it half its charm. The musicianship is once again top notch, with each string instrument beautifully arranging high and low pitch tones, while the somewhat deadpan vocals of Steve Snere remain ambiguous and expressive within their own confines. Let’s not forget the prominent space that the keyboards take in TAAS’S sound, in a live setting and in record they give the band certain dynamics that put these Seattle noise addicts in a class that’s all their own.

It is not to say that Easter cannot be appreciated track by track, but I want to propose the listener the opportunity to enjoy the full record at once; non-stop, without interruptions and if possible turned up to 11 and with headphones. To that, add a few spins before you’ve made up your mind, because it is clearly going to take more than a shallow listen to comprehend. Only after getting acquainted, Easter reveals its true colors; it is a devastating work of ambitious hardcore or whatever you feel like calling it. Think of the sub genre sat next to post hardcore, and project it ten blocks down the road. Five songs into Easter, the mood is lowered, and the band seems on a mission to take you along through a wide palette of emotions. Easter actually almost peaks with the acoustic “Lady North” which immediately recalls PINK FLOYD’S majestic mellow mood swings; once the song breaks in full-fledged mold only one thing is in evidence; Easter is no longer only the term for a Christian holiday.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVEIW

These Arms Are Snakes’ second release Easter, produced by Chris Common (the band’s drummer) is a fricassee of metal/hardcore furor and impulsive vocal lunges. The individual instrument parts are suited to the individual players and hashed out at varying degrees of speed and sound frequency as they twist and hurdle through the songs. There is familiarity in the metal binding and formidable deluges and tonality to Hot Cross and Botch. TAAS play metal to the max, coming at the listener in disgruntled heaps, mauling slingshots, and elbowing rants.

The bending and twisting effects in the series of guitar notes performed by Ryan Frederiksen on tracks like "Subtle Body" and "Horse Girl" are intensely perplex and piercing. The rhythm sections strategically maneuvered by drummer Common and bassist Brian Cook are stocky and add weight to lead singer Steve Snere’s coarse vocal timbres. The instrumental piece "Desert Ghost" acts as a prelude to the acerbic psychedelics in "Child Chicken Play," which segues into the space-age shaped mechanics of "Hell’s Bank Notes" and the parallel trails of percussive chants on "Abracadabraca." The vocal handling in "Abracadabraca" is tightly gripped with a robust hold while the instruments variables accrue a hounding unity in the build up and progressions making it one of the most cultivated tracks on the album where the vocals and instrument lines are precisely columned.

The song "Lady North" is attired with impressive vocal stretches and volcanic width. The acoustic guitar licks on "Perpetual Bris" cable into a lengthy organ regalia and a tomb-like vocal séance. A lot of the songs have a séance vibe to them, like the vocals are speaking to someone in another life. The music manifests into makeshift wings that bring the emotive and rugged vocals to the person who is meant to hear these lyrics. Like in "Lady North", where Snere barks, "You took my hand and threw me in the grave?°¦/ Now hold your throat/ The air’s a little worse than last week/ It’s a little bit warmer than last week/ Is it really like you weren’t informed?/ Well, consider yourself enlightened now."

Its true heavy metal witticism that dates back to Black Sabbath and AC/DC. (I told you there was a familiarity in TAAS’ music). The dark and gloomy tones in TAAS’ songs are shrink wrapped into metalcore atmospheres which give each player space to act out loudly and independent of each other. Their lines are less clumped together than in other metal/hardcore bands but just as aggressively serrated and heavy in chafing wraiths. These Arms Are Snakes keep metal music relatable to the present in their own way.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

O’man! These Arms Are Snakes new cd!!! These Arms have been making vital and fresh punk rock or what post-punk if you want to call it that for a few years now. Started out as a buzz band because they have members from Kill Sadie and Botch. Living in Portland, less that 3 hours from their home town Tacoma I have seen these guys a lot of times. The best part about These Arms is (almost) every time that I have seen them they put on a better show. They fucking rock harder, and better and they dance better than they ever had before. So basically every time I see these guys it is the best that they have ever been. In that same fashion Easter is the best of a growing line of great records. They have refined their sound a little by making most of the songs faster and cutting out the long parts of just noise that plagued Auctioneers. If you only buy five records this year then make this one of them.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

Hauling themselves out of the mire of a scene made up of lesser bands, somewhat like an unwholesome giant monster from the depths of the ocean, These Arms show up with their third release in as many years. And they sound pissed.

That’s one of the things that’s most endearing about this band (to me): they sound so overtly angry about the things they witness but not, thankfully, in that faulty neu-metal style, where the rage is just some sort of idiotic growl.

Instead, the emotion (don’t just imagine it limited to anger) comes out in torrents of energy, with guitars that spike and control the stereo. Lyrically, these guys are born out of that steam-of-consciousness train of thought made most memorable by Cedric Bixler in the At the Drive-In years; what made me fall in love with These Arms comes from a single line from Oxeneers, which fellow Never News staffer Luke recommended.

On that album, I was entirely to impressed by the layers the band was creating in their music—major multi-tracking of guitars. But then I got to ‘Your Pearly Whites’, which opens like a Sunny Day era emo track. The line that made me fall in love? “You could have licked the lips of God/but you chose the pavement”.

Sheer fucking genius.

That line, in itself, exemplifies what These Arms are about—a sort of quiet desperation that manifests itself in the loss of enlightenment (or falling from the trail of enlightenment). A sort of unnatural understanding of the world through the eyes of unexpected visionaries.

That vein continues on Easter, from the third grader who pens ‘I was found like molten rats in your city unkept. In your city I wept’ (in opener Mescaline Eyes) to the remarking on seemingly unnatural weather conditions: ‘The air’s a little worse than last week. It’s a little bit warmer than last week. Is it really like you weren’t informed? Well consider yourself enlightened now’ (Lady North). One track, Perpetual Bris, deals entirely with spiritual consideration: ‘You were born from sin. And if that ain’t a curse, I don’t know what is’ and a series of questions about Biblical figures. All, of course, over understated guitars.

This sort of semi-metaphysical phrasing is a natural step in writing when you’re writing from an almost completely submerged part of your sub-conscious, but few people have the ability to make it right. Bixler could, Gertrude Stein could (in a manner so removed from natural writing aesthetic that it’s hard to define). The masterminds behind These Arms are Snakes can, too.

And the contextual orchestrations of the band fit the tone perfectly: seemingly eclectic in its moods, the songs range from slow rockers to tracks like Abracadabraca, in which the guitars sound eerily operatic before dipping into pools of back and forth single note jabbing—this record isn’t so much made up of playing of instruments, it’s made up of sculpture of sound.

CHECK THIS: THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES

Seattle band These Arms Are Snakes are back with Easter, their new full length from Jade Tree Records. Before you think the band has gone soft with the new album name, be assured that the band is as caustic as ever; they’ve continued to walk, maybe run, down their path of post-hardcore, math-influenced music. Seriously, you might go blind if you stare at the album long enough.

The music is polished but with a rough edge, the songwriting is solid and some of the best to ever come out of These Arms Are Snakes. They’ve become punk professionals.

Drummer Chris Common did the recording and producing at Seattle’s own Red Room, and he and the band worked to bring out some seriously dark elements and put them in the music. "There is a real sense of doom amongst people these days. It’s very hard for that not to come out," says vocalist Steve Snere.

They’ve spent the past two years on the road with bands like the Blood Brothers, Minus The Bear, and Isis, and have played in front of a lot of people, and a lot of people have written a lot of words about them. They’ve also released two EP ‘s and a full length album on Jade Tree Records. The new album comes out on October 10th on Jade Tree Records, and they’ll be touring the US in October and November.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

Listen up, hardcore world. This may be your last warning.

In an era when hardcore and metal are nearly one and the same, when too-hot guitars make up for a lack of vision, when screaming and weird dynamics are mistaken for a sense of purpose and when hardcore, post-hardcore and metal-core’s only hope is to overwhelm listeners in an avalanche of face-shearing noise, These Arms Are Snakes give the world a wake-up call with Easter. Working from the nearly forgotten notions that loud’s only good when coupled with quiet, that a great song has something important to say and that you don’t have to continually prove how hard you are in each song, These Arms Are Snakes delivers one of the best albums to come from the post-hardcore (or punk and hardcore, for that matter) underground his year.

Easter employs all those fleeting charms that made post-hardcore rockers like Fugazi, The Refused and Snapcase so important so many years ago, namely that hardcore should be more about brain than brawn. These Arms Are Snakes isn’t afraid to rock you, and rock you hard, unloading enough flaying guitar and grinding rhythms to make any punk kid’s ears ring, but the loud-and-proud isn’t its only trick. "Subtle Body" and "Coporeal" rise and fall with swells of keyboards that don’t just add atmosphere to the track, but offer a yin to the band’s smoking guitars. "Desert Ghost" musters a haunting keyboard melody joined by goose-bump guitars and doses of electronics and static for a moody stretch of nocturnal glee. "Deer Lodge" and "Crazy Woman Dirty Train" offer limited doses of post-hardcore guitar brutality to prove the band’s hardcore mettle, the acoustic/ambient combo of "Perpetual Bris" and the building pressure of "Child Chicken Play" take an ear for melody, dynamics and compositions usually overlooked by today’s post-hardcore youngsters.

These Arms Are Snakes match its post-hardcore heights with an album that centers on the down sides of spirituality and religion: The notion of impending damnation, the struggle between good and evil and free will and predetermination. If spirituality’s supposed to sooth a man’s soul, These Arms Are Snakes find the down side, exploring the spiritual terrors, existential crises and corruption of religion. Whether it’s encouraging doubt outright ("Perpetual Bris"), chronicling a loss of faith ("Lady North") or simply chronicling the limbo of mystical horrors that come with faith misplaced ("Horse Girl," "Crazy Woman Dirty Train" and "Child Chicken Play").

There was a brief moment when post-hardcore rescued the sound from the meatheads in the mosh pit, the fashion slaves in the wings and the professional recyclers on stage. With Easter, that spirit rises again, as These Arms Are Snakes prove the underpinnings of a great post-hardcore album are brains, vision and subtlety.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

Listen up, hardcore world. This may be your last warning.

In an era when hardcore and metal are nearly one and the same, when too-hot guitars make up for a lack of vision, when screaming and weird dynamics are mistaken for a sense of purpose and when hardcore, post-hardcore and metal-core’s only hope is to overwhelm listeners in an avalanche of face-shearing noise, These Arms Are Snakes give the world a wake-up call with Easter. Working from the nearly forgotten notions that loud’s only good when coupled with quiet, that a great song has something important to say and that you don’t have to continually prove how hard you are in each song, These Arms Are Snakes delivers one of the best albums to come from the post-hardcore (or punk and hardcore, for that matter) underground his year.

Easter employs all those fleeting charms that made post-hardcore rockers like Fugazi, The Refused and Snapcase so important so many years ago, namely that hardcore should be more about brain than brawn. These Arms Are Snakes isn’t afraid to rock you, and rock you hard, unloading enough flaying guitar and grinding rhythms to make any punk kid’s ears ring, but the loud-and-proud isn’t its only trick. "Subtle Body" and "Coporeal" rise and fall with swells of keyboards that don’t just add atmosphere to the track, but offer a yin to the band’s smoking guitars. "Desert Ghost" musters a haunting keyboard melody joined by goose-bump guitars and doses of electronics and static for a moody stretch of nocturnal glee. "Deer Lodge" and "Crazy Woman Dirty Train" offer limited doses of post-hardcore guitar brutality to prove the band’s hardcore mettle, the acoustic/ambient combo of "Perpetual Bris" and the building pressure of "Child Chicken Play" take an ear for melody, dynamics and compositions usually overlooked by today’s post-hardcore youngsters.

These Arms Are Snakes match its post-hardcore heights with an album that centers on the down sides of spirituality and religion: The notion of impending damnation, the struggle between good and evil and free will and predetermination. If spirituality’s supposed to sooth a man’s soul, These Arms Are Snakes find the down side, exploring the spiritual terrors, existential crises and corruption of religion. Whether it’s encouraging doubt outright ("Perpetual Bris"), chronicling a loss of faith ("Lady North") or simply chronicling the limbo of mystical horrors that come with faith misplaced ("Horse Girl," "Crazy Woman Dirty Train" and "Child Chicken Play").

There was a brief moment when post-hardcore rescued the sound from the meatheads in the mosh pit, the fashion slaves in the wings and the professional recyclers on stage. With Easter, that spirit rises again, as These Arms Are Snakes prove the underpinnings of a great post-hardcore album are brains, vision and subtlety.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

As we grow up, we evolve and we adapt to new situations. This has been explained many times and can be applied to virtually anything. I am not one of those people that is exasperated when a band tries to do something new, or switch up their sound. We, as human beings, are always shifting a lot ourselves, and nothing is ever that constant. Despite what you want to believe, band members are humans, as well. Don’t believe the fan-girls when they tell you they are God’s. Bands break up, but sometimes the members move on and start new projects. Some of my favorite bands have disbanded, but have moved on to form even more impressive projects. Take this exceedingly relative equation for example:

Botch = Minus The Bear / These Arms Are Snakes.

I am sure you could find quite a few other instances, as well. These Arms Are Snakes return with their beautiful and stunning release, Easter. I remember the first song I heard from them, "The Blue Rose." The track was released on their 2003 album This Is Meant To Hurt You. I was instantly taken in and let my head absorb the music. Snere’s vocals are stellar, and his voice is simply beautiful. Have you heard the previous two albums? Are you worried that Easter won’t live up to my hype? After listening to this album, it’s evident that this is by far their best release to date.

This is a band that completely refuses to be pigeonholed into one genre. These Arms Are Snakes are unconventional and their sound mutates and becomes stronger with each album they release. Easter is no exception. The album opens up with the emotionally fueled track "Mescaline Eyes." It is clear the band have been doing a lot of experimenting with their music because the song is something you may not expect. The guitar work is scattered and raucous in sound. The lyrics are presumptuous. The percussion is the perfect compliment. In the simplest way put, this song is an astonishing work of art. The third track off of the album, "Dubtle Body", is the portrait for emotions. Frederiksen’s guitar is overwhelming and authoritative. He takes full control of this track and completes this song for me. The appropriately titled song, "Ghost Desert", is an eerie track that is made up of static and subtle keyboarding, and though there is no use of Snere’s words, it is appealing, nonetheless.

As if the band decided to take a one hundred and eighty degree turn in their music, "Perpetual Bris" comes through the speakers with a mellow, dramatic entrance. Everything seems to have slowed down and they make a strong focus on Snere’s exquisite vocals. The lyrics have a lot of biblical references that make the song even more poignant. The track opens with "You were born from sin, and if that ain’t a curse, then I don’t know what is." As far as lyrical content goes for the previous songs, these lyrics are the most shocking. In keeping with tradition of the change, "Coporeal" is just as slow and emotional as it’s predecessor. The song exits with the prevailing theme of this album, the extremely superb guitar work of Mr. Frederiksen.

These Arms Are Snakes have succeeded in creating an album that will be definitive in the years to come. It is clear to see that this release is going to be sticking around for a while. I can guarantee that up and coming bands will be referring to this for influence and motivation to make music in the future. This is a band that is notorious for talking shit on what the mainstream is trying shove in your face. This is music that pushed the envelope, and this is a band that has made a promise to always change their sound. You will not find yourself bored with them. These Arms Are Snakes will have you attached after seconds of listening to this album.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

Okay, so I smoke some serious These Arms Are Snakes pole, but I’m still a journalist (kind of), and I can still be unbiased (kind of). The point is, all my seemingly overbearing affection for this band aside, Easter is still a remarkable release.

Four years after the demise of metalcore visionaries Botch, These Arms Are Snakes were still struggling to gain a reputation as their own band instead of “These Arms Are Snakes featuring ex-Botch/Kill Sadie/Nineironspitfire members.” Even after a wildly impressive debut EP and a raw, experimental LP in Oxeneers, the Snakes still struggled to gain respect for their own identity. After relentless touring with some big name acts like Isis, Minus the Bear, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Zombi, Big Business, and more, the Snakes finally began to get the respect they deserved.

On their second LP, Easter, the band has shown tremendous growth and has effectively proven that they are their own entity. New drummer and producer Chris Common, who co-owns a studio with former Snakes producer Matt Bayles, transformed the band’s production and sound into something totally new – the band wasn’t particularly fond of the production on This is Meant to Hurt You, and Oxeneers seemed far too empty and abrasive for the band’s studio potential. However, on Easter, Common leaves nothing and no one out, and much like The Coma Recovery’s Drown That Holy End in Wine, Easter is loud but not distorted; smooth but not glossy; distinct but not overbearing. Every musician within the band performs at his peak on Easter, and each instrument, including vocalist Steve Snere, is spot on the entire album.

Opening track “Mescaline Eyes” truly sets the album’s tone: rock n’ fuckin’ roll. Vastly different from anything the Snakes have done before, “Mescaline Eyes” has the swagger of bands like the Rolling Stones and The Stooges combined with post-hard/math-core intensity, and the outcome is so jaw dropping and boundary shattering that it might just leave you scrambling to pick up your brains, ears, and even genitalia. Filled with an orgasmic synth solo from bassist/synthist Brian Cook, “Mescaline Eyes” couldn’t have introduced Easter any better.

The album’s single, “Horse Girl” follows, and keeps the audio explosion coming, with one of the coolest bass lines ever, again by Cook. Even as the band’s lead single, “Horse Girl” is one of the album’s all-around strongest tracks – not often common with the album’s catchiest tune. “Subtle Body,” “Abracadabraca,” and particularly “Coporeal” all show the band’s growth beyond standard post-hardcore. In every song – but chiefly these three – These Arms Are Snakes adapted the influence of some of their post-metal tour-mates, and in doing so Easter has definitively heavy, atmospheric influences similar to that of Isis, Mouth of the Architect, and more. The album’s most versatile track is “Lady North,” which blends the seemingly unrelated genres of rock, post-hardcore, and post-metal into an effortless, profound, and unique track.

And in traditional These Arms Are Snakes fashion, the album closes with an epic, climaxing song that brings all the intertwined concepts – both musically and lyrically – together for one final crushing conclusion; except this time, the final song is actually three. Beginning with acoustic and ambient guitars and vocals by Cook on “Perpetual Bris,” the concept smoothly transitions to the Radiohead-via-Pink Floyd track “Coporeal,” before dusking on the ultra-mathy post-hardcore breakdown on “Crazy Woman Dirty Train.”

The ability to equally and successfully blend seemingly unrelated styles is what makes Easter so special, and it’s what makes These Arms Are Snakes a truly gifted band. Because when the smarmy genres and sub-genres are removed, all that’s left is a redefinition of rock music. Bands have been making carbon copies of carbon copies since the 60s and 70s, and aside from the original burst of punk and hardcore in the late 70s and early 80s, rock has most definitely been dead, if not dying slowly and painfully. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been anything good since then, it’s just that nothing or almost nothing has been truly inventive except for maybe Nirvana.

Appropriately titled Easter, These Arms Are Snakes have resurrected and redefined rock music for the new millennium. Without question this is (tied for) the best album of the year, and (tied for) one of the most defining musical releases since Radiohead’s Kid A.

5/5

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

These Arms Are Snakes is an artistic and interesting post-hardcore band from Seattle. The phrase post-hardcore is an interesting one you will see a lot in reference to this band. In a way it kind of says it all; they are coming from Seattle, but their music isn’t the same as the music that city is best known for. But in a way it is. To me, this band kind of sounds like Sound Garden, but with a more artistic and more mature sound, like if Sound Garden had stayed together and made music for another 10 years, this is what the last album in those 10 years might sound like. There is a lot to the album; it mixes industrial elements with rock guitar and punk vocals. The end product is something new, this band creates a sound, which could almost be defined as a new genre, beyond post-hardcore; they are grinding and angry with a touch of fragile humanity. There is no word for it per say maybe Pulsar, but that’s a term I just made up so I could classify this music. This band could be the second coming of the new Seattle sound. They really bring a sort of energy that is distinctive and memorable. This is the sort of album that starts strong and never lets up; every track has a sort of grinding power that bears down on the listener and creates a full and rich atmosphere of angst and anger. This is a powerful and beautifully constructed album that should not be over looked.

These Arms Are Snakes

People normally equate the pipe organ to one of three things: The noise heard between drunken innings at a baseball game, the soundtrack to an old Vincent Price horror film, or the ominous echo from a church steeple. With the release of their new album off Jade Tree Records, These Arms are Snakes have now given us a forth; alternative rock.

Exploiting the full potential of keyboard harmonics is only part of what this Seattle based group does to draw attention from its loyal onslaught of fans. Touring endlessly from coast-to-coast, lead singer Steve Snere pushes vocals through electric guitars and electronica soundscapes, influencing a new generation of beat lovers.

With the help of band members Ryan Frederiksen and Brian Cook, these west coast vagabonds jam out songs of economic hardship and pure sexuality mixed with Phish and Mars Volta-type breakdowns. And not to forget drummer Erin Tate whose concentrated rhythms shake you to the bone. He keeps time through the album; his fast moving sticks intensify the reality of each chorus.

They are the counterparts who, along with their chemical compounds of musical sounds, make up the formula for the 2004 release, "Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home."

The title is a perfect metaphor for the themes of white-collar vs. blue-collar ideals featured in these lyrics. The first track "The Shit Sisters," is a nightmarish lullaby to the children of the upper class: "Ride on your $100,000 horse?°¦401k plans, NASDAQ, assurance and insurance. Please let your children sleep tonight, spoon fed quarters till they backed up his throat."

Striking, artistic photography adorns the booklet pages, giving visuals to match the meaning of the albums lyrics.

For "Angela’s Secret," the picture is reminiscent of classic paintings that feature The Virgin Mary holding the Baby Jesus; we see a woman embracing her child as she stands starring out the window of her messy, middle class kitchen. The struggle and self-sacrifice of a modern American single mom is told in, "Angela’s Secret."

Her story is preached as a sermon with screams and that unmistakable organ coming up from behind: "She said to me?°¦’when I eat it’s with my kids, and if I dance, it’s when they’re asleep. When I shop, it’s not for me and neither is when I breathe.’"

These Arms are Snakes reverberate hardcore through their music. Powerful manipulation of their instruments accompany Snere’s singing, setting him apart from the usual screaming of the genre’s fellow groups. This allows you to actually understand his lyrics first time around.

Each song transfers into another, several tracks meld together connecting topics and resurrecting rhythms from the previous songs. However, there is enough change to tell every piece apart.

Aside from lamenting on economic themes, the boys add what could only be referred to as a hardcore ballot with the track "Gadget Arms."

Electric guitars and a slow, fading-in drumbeat to start off an eight-minute instrumental containing the single chorus: "Breathe on me. Never spit your last tooth and never shy away from my light. I finally believe I’ve got a home."

The photo for "Gadget Arms" features a man with a grocery bag riding the elevator; presumably back to his apartment—perhaps he is returning to the literal interpretation of "home" spoken of in the song.

The final track, "Idaho" comes creeping in with that horror movie church pipe organ. It transforms into demonic carnival music with vocalist Snere singing the anthem of the workingman’s hell: "Give me my pay, so I pay my bills?°¦you stole all my love, and I want it back. We are animals swinging too far towards distant vines. May your lips never touch your timecard again."

This record is the perfect combination of sight, sound and speech, brought together by a group who could easily break into the mainstream, but will hopefully remain on its outskirts.

Currently kicking off a west coast tour, it won’t be long before more is heard of These Arms are Snakes. They’ve already garnered press on both ends of the spectrum from The Seattle Weekly to Blender magazine and the BBC. Not bad for the sophomore release of a band who have only been jamming since 2003.

Make the Season Gay With Gifts of Music by Queer Talents

Having a hard time figuring out what to get that special lesbian, gay man, bisexual, transgender, or questioning person on your holiday list? Why not give music by a member of the queer community?

Openly queer Michael Stipe is one-third of the groundbreaking modern rock band R.E.M. , whose album Around the Sun (Warner Brothers) was recently released. Stipe and company have struggled to capitalize on the artistic achievements and merits of the back-to-back masterworks Automatic for the People (1992) and Monster (1994), and Around the Sun doesn’t do much for the cause. A seriously low-key effort, there are a few minor bursts of energy, such as on the synth-beats of "Electron Blue" and the tasteful funk of "The Outsider," although it took three listens for Q-Tip’s rap on that track not to sound like an afterthought. "Make It All Okay" feels like a musical response to religious fundamentalists, with the line "Well Jesus loves me fine/And your words fall flat this time," and "Final Straw" is one of R.E.M.’s most political statements, a restrained rage against the Bush/Cheney administration. Stipe sounds the most invested on "Wanderlust," and when he sings, "I want it to be brilliant/I want it to be sweet," it is momentarily brilliant and sweet. Sadly, too much sameness threatens to sink the whole affair, not making it "The Worst Joke Ever," as the song says, but far from the best that R.E.M. has to offer.

Reyna Larson made a name for herself as the front person for the band Mabel Mabel, and there were many people who were disappointed when the band called it quits a couple of years ago. As leader of the band, Larson was the most visible and recognizable component, which ought to make her transition into being a solo artist a smooth one. The bucking bronco on the cover of Some Folks Need a Name (Clayhead) and the inside photo of Larson in a cowboy hat are an indication of what is inside, a collection of insurgent country-colored tunes, complete with a lap steel guitar, mandolin, dobro, and banjo, among other instruments. Larson fills these songs (most of which are originals) with her powerful alto growl, making them as comfortable a fit as a pair of snug but well-worn Wranglers. Standouts include the tearjerkers "Say My Name" and "Squeezebox," the bluesy stomp of "54321," the sexy strut of "Me Slowly," the infectious swing of "Streets of New Orleans," and the gospel plea of "Good Lord Above."

While I certainly respected what Garrin Benfield did on his first two full-length discs, I wasn’t completely sold. That has all changed with his amazing third album Where Joy Kills Sorrow (Zack Songs). Not that Benfield’s previous albums were inaccessible, but his new release has a freshness and originality that makes it a whole different listening experience. A Beatles influence can be felt strongly throughout–on "Answers" and "What You Wanted To Hear," for instance–which works in Benfield’s favor. "Unwind" is a jazz-tinged number that shows the influence that Boz Scaggs has had on Benfield, while the beautiful "Ugly" should be required listening for bickering couples.

As a member of Roy, openly gay musician Brian Cook sang about wanting to marry his boyfriend, but not being able to, on the song "Never Getting Married." Cook and his boyfriend have since married, and Cook has moved on to another band. That band, scream-o-noise purveyors These Arms Are Snakes , have released the complex Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home (Jade Tree), which is sure to be as off-putting to some as it is appealing to others. (These Arms Are Snakes perform in Houston on December 13 at Mary Jane’s Fat Cat.)

Continuing in the jazzy vein of their last few albums, Irish lesbian duo Zrazy (Maria Walsh and Carole Nelson), who accompany themselves on flute, sax, and other instruments, have returned with the verdant Dream On (Alfi). Also backed by a quintet, Zrazy’s songs have a dreamy and seductive quality, embodied in songs such as "I Know When You Are Near," "Rain," and "Keep It Real," and the nine-minute "Drive."

Spanning a 12-year period, the songs on Purpose of Love: A Tim DiPasqua Songbook–Volume 1 (timdipasqua.com) qualify this disc as the perfect purchase for the cabaret/show-tune lover in your midst. Familiar names and voices from the cabaret realm, including Brian Lane Green, Scott Coulter, Baby Jane Dexter, and Tom Andersen wrap themselves in Tim DiPasqua ‘s songs, written between 1987 and 1999, that are at turns humorous ("My Favorite Note," "You Make Me Nuts"), dramatic ("Beach in the Blinding Sun," "Somewhere Between," "As It’s Meant to Be," "It Shouldn’t Have Happened") and just plain queer ("Big Hairy Man").

The words lesbian and singer/songwriter just sound right together. Steff Mahan, the lesbian singer/songwriter, embodies that pairing on her new album, 42.50 (steffmahan.com). More Nashville (where she is based) than insurgent, Mahan’s songs sound as if they were intended for sing-alongs on cross-country trips. From stories of traveling on a budget (the title track) to tales of escape ("Leavin’ Money") to songs about the things we get used to ("Rock in My Shoe") to having a good chuckle in spite of everything ("Laughin’"), Mahan’s songs have a universal appeal.

A definite shift has occurred in the music and style of The Atari Star. The band’s first two full-length albums were practically dazzling in their beauty, made even more so considering the band members’ punk rock roots. On Prayer + Pretend (Johann’s Face), the trio, which includes gay front man Marc Ruvolo and drummer Davey Houle, re-embraces its hard-rocking origins and burns through a series of blistering tunes, including "Always If Only," "Night Striped Assassins," "The Assimilationist," and "Mosquito Heart Serenade." If you need further proof, The Atari Star even does a cover of Shellac’s "Copper." Still, traces of The Atari Star of old can be heard on the album’s six-and-a-quarter-minute centerpiece, "Asphalt Everest," which includes a lovely trumpet part by Jamal Ayoub.

As with The Atari Star, an audible stylistic shift has also occurred with June Panic. The born-again queer that we first came in contact with on 2002′s Baby’s Breadth is still rocking his unique brand of experimental music on Hope You Fail Better (Secretly Canadian).

Experimentation is also the forte of gay poet and songwriter Jim e Sparkle Pants on his new self-titled CD (www.sparklepants.org). Love, sexuality, and celebration of the body abound in songs such as “F**k Me Lovingly,” “I Love My Armpits,” “Circumcision,” “Sweet Warm Lover,” and “Easy Through the Years.”

Gay Bay Area singer/songwriter John Ashfield won me over with his tasty Harmony Bunny disc a few years ago. In his latest incarnation, as a member of The Bobbleheads, he has even included some of his previously released tunes on Automatic Fun, such as “Crush,” “I Don’t Know,” and “Why Not Smile” (a song about Joni Mitchell). The remaining songs are bright and sunny power pop tunes that have the ability to light up a room or even an entire day.

“Hyperdelic acid house innovators” Psychic TV, led by transgender artist and performer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (a founding member of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle) have created a trippy musical tribute to the late Brian Jones (of the Rolling Stones) on the double disc set Godstar: Thee Director’s Cut by Psychic TV (Voiceprint). Separated into “Reel One” and “Reel Two” discs, sure to leave the listener reeling, the set includes numerous Psychic TV originals (emphasis on originality), as well as covers of songs by the Stones, the Beach Boys, and Serge Gainsbourg.

These Arms Are Snakes

These Arms Are Snakes are fusing everything from old school punk to suggestive drum ?°»n’ bass sensibility on this album that sounds like a less dissonant bastard child of Slint and Mars Volta. Commendable, in that they could have probably spit out an album filled with repetitive chord progressions and overly energetic intros, TAAS instead oscillates between aggressive vocals, elegant lyrics and almost danceable rhythms to create an intelligently solid effort. They’ve created a sound that’s old school punk with an earnest vocal approach, reminding you of the good old days of indie rock, back before some idiots started throwing around words like “emo” and “electroclash” and turned the whole scene into the sad, new “alternative.”

Grade: B+

These Arms are Snakes are a really good band and this interview really gives you a good idea of how much it hurts when your appendix needs to be removed.

PL: Introduce yourselves.

B: I’m Brian and I play bass and keyboards.

R: I’m Ryan and I play guitar and sometimes keyboards.

PL: Do you think bands need to have a message in order to be successful?

B: I don’t think they need one in order to be successful. If you listen to most commercial radio, they don’t say a lot.

R: I don’t know. I think most successful bands don’t have a message. If you listen to Top 40 radio, there’s not much being said.

PL: Do you guys consider yourself "screamo"?

B: I guess there’s a whole lot worse things to be called.

R: I don’t know. They can call us whatever they want, I guess. It doesn’t really affect us all that much. We just keep doing what we’re doing.

PL: Almost every review or article I’ve read about you has mentioned past bands. Is that something that bothers you or do you not care?

B: Its another thing that we discussed when our EP came out. We considered not putting the "featuring X members of" thing on there, just to try and get away from that. But, if it helps get our name out there, then its a nice little jumping point.

R: Yeah, its been over two years now since we’ve been a band.

B: Me and Steve, our singer, were talking, and its funny because no one ever wrote about Botch and Kill Sadie while they were around. Its weird that people think its worth talking about. People didn’t care four years ago, so why do they care now?

PL: Reading through your press kit, it says that you guys don’t take yourselves seriously. How does a band not take itself seriously?

R: We take what we do seriously, but not ourselves. When you start taking yourself too seriously, it starts losing all fun involved in it. It takes all the fun out of it.

B: A band being serious enough that they love what they do and want to share it with people and want them to respect it, then thats one thing. Then there’s other people that are like: "I’m in a band. This band is fucking awesome. We’re gonna do this and this and this. Anything that fucks with my vision of what this band is supposed to be, they’re an asshole and fuck them." Thats what being too serious is. Hopefully we’re not that way.

PL: Do you think that taking yourself too seriously could mean trying too hard?

B: Yeah.

R: Definitely.

PL: Has mainstream music taken a step in the right direction lately?

R: I don’t know if it ever takes a step in the right direction. I think it gets close, but then a million bands follow that same direction, so they’re doing all that same stuff. There are 30 or 40 bands that sound similar. There’s one band that leads the pack and then a bunch of clones that sound just like them. I don’t think it ever goes in the right direction. There’s always one band that is doing its own thing and is given a chance and they either get lucky or they don’t.

B: I mean, I guess we both got kind of stoked when Nirvana got big. We thought that they were a good band and we thought that other good bands would get signed, but instead its Candlebox and Silverchair and stuff. The same thing happened when Green Day got big and we thought that all of these Lookout bands were gonna get huge now, but instead, its Unwritten Law and New Found Glory. At the Drive In getting big didn’t help anything because now there’s a million mediocre bands trying to be At the Drive In. At the Drive In was cool because they were At the Drive In. Thats why Nirvana was good; thats why James Brown was good.

PL: How many people are in the band and did you guys go through a member shuffle?

B: There’s four people in the band. We used to be a five piece. We had a keyboard player, drummer, guitar player, bass player and a singer. Keyboard player left and that was kind of fine. He didn’t really add too much musically anyway.

R: He didn’t want to play keyboards in the first place. He wanted to be in the band and then move on to play guitar. And I think he just kind of lost interest in it and decided to go his own way. Then Joe, our drummer, had some personal stuff that he was taking care of and Aaron came in and helped us write the full length. Its been Brian, Steve and I pretty much the whole time.

PL: Ryan, did you mean to signify anything with the nudity in the album artwork?

R: It follows the storyline of the lyrics. Each song reflects whats going on in the artwork. It was Steve’s idea thinking about everyday life and just reflecting off of that. It was meant to be a look at a person’s life and how they view that life on a daily basis.

B: Its sort of voyeuristic, like you’re looking in on these things that you shouldn’t be looking in on.

R: Its like your looking in on this uncomfortable side of someone’s life and the lyrics are sort of doing the same thing from a different perspective. We wanted to get a cohesive thought on our record from the music to the layout and artwork. Its meant to be one big thought, but not a concept record.

PL: Ryan, you got your appendix taken out and you were playing the next day?

R: Not the next day, the following day.

PL: Did it burst?

R: No, it didn’t burst. Thank God.

PL: Oh, mine burst and I couldn’t do anything for a month.

R: It didn’t burst, but it hurt like hell. I got lucky, I guess. I felt it hurting at the top of my stomach and it felt like I had indigestion or some shit. It never hurt there before and I couldn’t figure out why it was hurting there. Then my doc thought that I had to go to the hospital, so I called my dad and he came and got me to take me there. We were gonna go see his doctor, but on the way to his doctor, it started getting worse so we went straight to the hospital. The doctor came in and took a look at it and looked at me and said "Whats the problem? Whats the symptoms?" I told him and he said "Oh, I’ve got to take your appendix out. I’ll do a call to set up the appendectomy and we’ll take that out."

PL: Did he touch your stomach?

R: Yeah, hurt like a motherfucker. He asked if it hurt right here and if it was moving down and I said yes. He said, what happens is it starts at the top of your stomach, moves down and then over. Your appendix doesn’t have nerve endings and your body doesn’t know what to do, so it forces you to have a stomach ache.

PL: Mine just hurt at the bottom.

R: Yeah, yeah. He said that I got lucky because it started hurting because it burst.

PL: When I went to the emergency room, they told me to drink Peptol Bismol, and that night, I was just laying on the living room floor and my parents walked out and my dad took me to the hospital. (NOTE:I had back surgery two weeks after this interview. Surgery sucks.)

PL: Are there any bands, known or unknown, from Washington that we should know about?

B: There’s a lot going on in Seattle. Its all over the place. I think everyone is Seattle is in a band.

R: Its more uncommon to find people who aren’t in bands. All of our friends and people we don’t even know are all in bands, and its actually a really good time for Seattle, as far as I’m concerned.

B: Minus the Bear is good, but I think everybody’s heard of them. Then there’s Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves.

R: Playing Enemy.

B: Playing Enemy is good. Big Business. There’s a lot of good stuff.

PL: Are you gonna vote in this upcoming election? (Sorry this is after the fact)

R: Yes.

B: Yeah. Why wouldn’t you vote?

PL: Do you guys have any final comments?

R: You should vote. And you shouldn’t vote for Bush.

B: There you go.

These Arms Are Snakes [I]Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go[/I] Review

It’s no case that the label releasing this record is Jade Tree. These guys from Delaware do have talent when it comes the time to recrute a band that plays something fresh and different from what most punk/hc/indie rock labels release these days.
With such an appealing line up (Featuring members of Nine Iron Spitfire and a band like Botch that paved the way for what is today called Mathcore) I knew I was going to listen to something worth my time. I just didn’t know what to expect with “The Lion sleeps when its antelope go home”, due to the fact that I hadn’t listened to the band’s previous ep ("This is meant to hurt you, always on Jade Three"). It’s kind of hard for me, even after various listens, fully describe you TAAS sounds, due to the fact that these guys build up and blend a sound all of their own which can’t be easily synthetized. It’s a like a mixture of elements belonging to different genres all thrown together in the same big pot: Post hc, prog rock (that’s what the reoccurring use of organs reminded me of) indie rock, stoner; TAAS fluently blend all these sonorities and deliver us 11 songs one profoundly different from the other, both in structure than atmosphere.
It’s too easy comparing this bands to act like The Blood Brothers. That’s just limitative, doesn’t make justice to these 4 guys. TAAS sound is much more various and experimental. Only band I feel like quoting here are The Mars Volta for the analogies in the “experimentation process”.

Needless to say, this album requires repeated listens before being fully appreciated. It’s not something that you will find yourself out singing along once you’ve put the disc in your player, but it definitely is an high class talented work that deserves your attention.

Human connection of disconnection’ These Arms Are Snakes Grab you, Hard.

"Angela’s Secret" by Seattle band These Arms Are Snakes is exactly what Barbara Ehrenreich’s book ‘Nickel and Dimed’ would sound like if it were a hardcore punk rock song. Both highlight the struggle of a single mother barely getting by: "When I eat it’s with my kids and if I dance it’s when they’re asleep. When I shop it’s not for me and neither is when I breathe," vocalist Steve Snere snarls before launching into the screaming chorus of "some ain’t got no luck."

The other ten songs aren’t much brighter. And no wonder. Snere began writing the lyrics for the songs that would become the band’s first full-length release as part of a short story while he was working at a check cashing service in Seattle.

The result is "Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home" (Jade Tree Records), a collection of songs culled from the underbelly of life that reflect a disillusioned view of our greed-based culture. Songs about working too much, getting screwed over, and getting drunk or lost in the city to try to forget it all, at least until Monday at 9 a.m.

"So use your body as the engine for your weekend because this is no time to sleep," Snere demands on "Big News," "I’m sick of working all the time for someone else’s needs."

With a band name like These Arms Are Snakes you better be tough, lest you come across like a group of B-grade horror movie geeks. Not only are they hardcore, they’ve got an openly gay member, bassist Brian Cook, proving once again that being gay doesn’t mean being fey, and gay musical tastes aren’t limited to show tunes and Streisand.

TAAS makes music that is challenging, confrontational, and difficult. Loud guitars, screaming vocals, and a palpable sense of anger and hurt are TAAS hallmarks. They’ve been called everything from emo to punk to screamo to hardcore. But it doesn’t matter what we call them, because they’re calling us and the social trappings of our lives to the floor and taking us to task. May we live better for it.

These Arms Are Snakes [I]Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go[/I] Review

"The Shit Sisters" is the first song on the album and I can’t get over how much it sounds like Perry Farrell singing with Rage Against The Machine. The randomness of their songs’ navigation is reminiscent of Fugazi and At The Drive In. All of these specs of influence are obviously a good thing unless you hate all the bands mentioned a forehand. My favorite song on Oxeneers is "Tracing" which is preceded by a slow organ track. The band is undeniably skilled and their lyrics are poetic without being sappy or lame. Steve Snere sings "You could have licked the lips of God, but you chose the pavement" and he doesn’t sound like he gives a shit if I know what he’s talking about, but that he definitely means it. The instrumentation and vocals are incredibly sincere, but it’s just one of those things that are unexplainable until you hear it for yourself. There are moments on the album where time is filled with spacious, heartfelt instrumentals that add an eeriness to the songs while making me wonder how long I had been listening to them which is unnerving, but nice to know that jam sessions in the middle of songs are still accepted amongst the musicians of this fine country we live in. These Arms Are Snakes is a definite listen to for those of you who appreciate sporadic instrumentation underlying the voice of a poet gone insane.

These Arms Are Snakes Brings Menacingly Brutal Hardcore South from Seattle.

Seattle’s These Arms Are Snakes is the sound of 2004′s last gasp. As the year swings to a close, folks are still shaking from the shock and awe of televised war and election year blues. These Arms’ brand new record, "Oxeneers Or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home" (Jade Tree), sounds like the agony a lot of people are feeling — the frustration of screaming at a wall.

These Arms rages against that, among other things. When singer Steve Snere falls to the stage, bruising his elbows, skinning his knee, gasping and sweating after three hot minutes of hardcore trash, you see a man who feels beaten and drained and disillusioned. But he keeps it moving and the band leaves the clamor and segues into a chirping, crackling Pink Floyd simmer down. And the transition is natural: Wail and crash to groove and drone; Dinosauric guitar growls to oceanic pump organ and MicroKorg synth noise.

Since "Oxeneers" dropped, the band has been written up everywhere from Spin and Rolling Stone to countless photocopied ‘zines. The hype is molasses thick, but the payoff is there — both live and recorded. Like their pals and city-mates the Blood Brothers, the boys from These Arms are gambling big on creative avant-hardcore. Feeding the masses a sound like this can either yield revolution or revulsion. Blood Brothers’ new record, "Crimes," is out on Virgin Records’ V2 label, so it’s sink or swim for them. These Arms is in a safer spot with indie label Jade Tree.

But regardless of how the record-buying public responds, These Arms has made an ambitious, thundering debut. Like the gothic prog-rock operas of the ’70s, this has the feel of something epic, theatrical and era-specific. It is a sound that both gives you hope and serves as a death march for your darkest days.

To call a band "the soundtrack to Armageddon" is played out and hyperbolic, but "Oxeneers" is definitely the pre-show entertainment.

These Arms Are Snakes [I]Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go[/I] Review

Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, in all of its nonsensically titled glory, escaped my interest until it gently fell into my hands (which sadly happens a lot). These Arms Are Snakes, while housing former members of widely-recognized, pioneering acts like Botch, isn’t a particularly heavy or metallic band. In fact, the material on Oxeneers or the Lion… is surprisingly accessible and inviting, but the band doesn’t let that detract from their quirky and experimental tendencies. It’s carefully balanced.

What came as unexpected on Oxeneers or the Lion… was the contrast between progressive, lengthy songs and accessible numbers. These Arms Are Snakes doesn’t deviate from their solidified style too often, but specific songs are certainly more atypical than others. The band wisely opened the effort with three immediately gratifying songs in the three-minute range. "The Shit Sisters" introduces the band with stop-start guitar riffing, vocalist Steve Snere’s characteristic mix of clean singing and yells, and an array of electronics. "Big News" and "Angela’s Secret" follow in similar suit, and the latter’s simplistic rhythms make it dangerously catchy.

From there, though, the band begins to defy more rules, especially on "Gadget Arms." The song clocks in at over eight minutes and has only a sparse vocal presence. For a good portion of the song the band is producing a strange mix of minimal percussion, bass and dissonant, electronic noises. And while it seems self indulgent, it ebbs and flows through various motions and eventually comes back to earth near the end, which makes it time well spent.

These Arms Are Snakes will likely be labeled as experimental indie rock, post-hardcore or something equally meaningless. But overall, the band isn’t restrained by genres and, in turn, doesn’t sound similar to many other groups. Brian Cook’s use of electronics helps the band achieve a unique identity and, even though they’re a four-piece, gives them a full, varied sound. Cook also plays the bass guitar, which has a notably forceful presence. Guitarist Ryan Frederiksen contributes an interesting blend of jagged, stop-start riffs and meandering, spacey picking patterns. "Angela’s Secret," "La Stanza Bianca" and "Darling of New Midnight" all use this formula and have some far-reaching, atmospheric passages.

More simply, the music is inspired and detailed. There aren’t any contrived tendencies or clichés and none of the songs are worthy of the demoralizing skip button.

The lyrics, while worded in an ambiguous manner so as to fit the music, address issues more important than failed romances. The closer, "Idaho," is skin-tingling, especially at the end, when Snere yells "My life has become dry because of you. Insomnia, paranoia, anxiety, dependence, relentless, worthlessness. You stole all my love, you stole all my love, and I want it back. We are animals swinging too far towards distant vines. May your lips never touch your timecard again." Through a number of songs runs a theme of living life for things other than monetary possessions and related struggles, which I appreciate.

While jagged and unpredictable, Oxeneers or the Lion… is seriously addictive and catchy. With some exposure, These Arms Are Snakes should catch on with a diverse group of listeners. I don’t think I’ll ever remember this album’s title in its entirety, but I sure as hell catch myself recalling these songs on a regular basis.

These Arms Are Snakes [I]Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go[/I] Review

These Arms Are Snakes kick ass! I am really all about their live performance and the first EP. They did a split with Harkonen and I tried like hell to get it to review but it never showed up from Hydra Head. It
was called Like A Virgin which rocks. I like Oxeneers because it has some really great songs but I think they took the experimentation a little bit too far on a few of the songs. I like where These Arms are going but songs like track six "Gadget Arms" just go on forever and never really pick up. I don’t need to listen to about 6 minutes of ambient noise before some singing
that I can’t really make out kicks in. I love most of this record and these guys are doing great things. There is this awesome part on "Greetings from
the Great North Woods" where the music cuts out and they are all singing in a cool layering of vocals. It is great. These guys have lost two founding members due to hitting it too hard. I hear that Erin from Minus The Bear is now drumming for them and he is great. He and the singer used to play in Killsadie. Oxeneers is great so go to the shows and pick up some merch and
give these boys some props for hitting it hard!

These Arms Are Snakes – Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home

A friend recommended that I listen to the hard-rocking outfit McClusky recently because, in his valued opinion, they "really rock." Whenever I sit down at a drum-kit, I have that same urge many of us do to just make loud fast rock music, and I usually act on it. Rocking is fun, let there be no denial. And I don’t mean that arty hard rock, or the ironic hard rock, I mean the sweaty lowbrow 4/4 pulverizing rush that is hard-rock. McClusky and Andrew W.K. do it, so why not These Arms Are Snakes?

A website used the term "post-grunge" to qualify their sound, a hyphenization that scares me. How does a band attain such a label (or avoid it)? Because they’re based out of Seattle, because more than a few of their crunchy riffs triggered a subconscious longing for flannel button-downs, because the tech-metal opening track "Shit Sisters"’s 5/4 time signature is powerfully reminiscent of Soundgarden’s early work? Maybe, but this is POST-grunge, which means…What? I dunno, "after" grunge?

Their new album’s title, Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, is a risk. Whereas …or The Children’s Crusade or or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb fit their author’s sense of black humor, the alternate titles for Radiohead’s last album seemed like overkill. "The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home" by itself would be more apt for this album; it suggests the primal instinct of aggressive music, the predator-prey relationship rock has with its muses and its fans. "Oxeneers" conjures images of Oregon Trail, and serves not the cause of suggesting the rocking attitude of the content within. (The track titled "Oxeneers", however, interestingly sounds like Animal Collective covering Metallica’s "One").

Most interesting are the album’s two sprawling dirges: "Gadget Arms" is a spaced-out Jane’s Addiction-eque instrumental with a wicked stomp-ready riff, bubbling distortion, and one soaring lyric; "Idaho" is a neurotic, rhythm-shifting epic with chattered lyrics and a "For the Benifit of Mr. Kite" feel of carnival fun.

Smart, ragged, and occasionally worthy of a playlist.

These Arms Are Snakes [I]Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go[/I] Review

For most people, heavy music loses its appeal as they grow older. Though hardcore and metal may have gotten many a person through those tough times in high school, after college, nobody in his right mind would want to hang out in front of an all ages club with his buds, blasting All Out War from his van. Chalk it up to maturity or a mellower pace of life, but hardcore just isn’t the same when you’re over legal drinking age.

But there’s always an exception. Drive Like Jehu, though they were louder than the Almighty, will be forever cool. And right now, I might even say the same for Seattle’s These Arms Are Snakes. Much like Jehu, These Arms adapt the conventions of hardcore into a peculiar, yet totally badass type of heavy rock. That said, TAAS are not a hardcore band. They are however, really goddamn loud.

"The Shit Sisters," which opens their new full-length, Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home (breathe?°¦), immediately recalls Jehu’s "Here Come the Rome Plows," with its odd, 5/4 time signature and chunky guitar assault. However, the song moves into space rock breakdowns, twisting and turning into different directions over the course of three minutes. The next track, "Angela’s Secret" is even more interesting, fusing atmospheric guitar feedback with electronic effects and deafening metal riffs. In fact, let’s just get this out of the way right now. There aren’t any songs on this album that don’t have loud guitars, save for the two one-minute segues on each side.

But who doesn’t appreciate some loud ass guitars? I know I do. And certainly These Arms Are Snakes do as well. "Big News" and "Greetings from the Great North Woods" are more straightforward, in the vein of Fugazi, and as could be expected, are big on mega distorted riffs. But "La Stanza Bianca" shows a weirder side of the band, as they experiment with baroque sounding keyboards and a near-goth sound. But "Darlings of New Midnight" returns to a more straightforward structure. In what may be the heaviest song on the album, the band delivers one of its most accessible tracks. While the verse is edgy and agitated, the chorus bursts into super low-end mayhem, like Queens of the Stone Age on steroids. Lots of `em. Just when you think the band is ready to slow it down on final track, "Idaho," the band rages into a sinister waltz that’s one part At the Drive-In, one part carnival sideshow and one part "Rock Lobster."

I may not be a teenager anymore, and I certainly haven’t listened to Snapcase or Will Haven in some time. But These Arms Are Snakes are enjoying frequent spins in my cd player and probably will until my hearing goes.

These Arms Are Snakes [I]Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go[/I] Review

In its ’80s heyday, American hardcore promised to develop into something much more interesting than today’s whiny emo, filled as it is with lyrics lifted from a depressed teenager’s diary. A number of acts like Unwound, Drive Like Jehu and the Blood Brothers have fulfilled that promise, adding their own technical prowess, metal chops and white noise to the hardcore template. On their ridiculously titled debut album, Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, Seattle’s These Arms Are Snakes offers a handful of cathartic, fractured anthems that almost make the cut. Featuring ex-members of Minneapolis’s Kill Sadie and the seminal Botch, blistering aggression was expected. "Your Pearly Whites" builds into a series of maniacal drum fills, cresting with a fist-pumping game of start/stop, and the epic "Idaho" is a punk tent revival as propulsive as Jawbreaker’s "Bivouac." Even more satisfying, though, are the unexpected shots of restive pump organ, spindly noise arias and ethereal drone. Some tracks lag under the weight of the quartet’s ambition, but even when they fail, These Arms Are Snakes have produced an engaging collection that goes a long way to prove contemporary hardcore needn’t be for dummies and crybabies.