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

If your arms are snakes then are you related to or somewhere within Medusa’s extended bloodline?

But seriously folks, anybody who is a frequent reader of Treble knows that our skipper Jeff Terich, when not stuffing people into gym lockers and vigorously bitch slapping those whose musical tastes differ from his, always manages to insert a witty and clever tagline under the album’s title when listed on the site. When TAAS’s previous album Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When It’s Antelope Go Home was reviewed here two years ago, the tagline was "Hardcore for grown-ups." That alone said it about TAAS. You don’t have to be "grown-up" per se to enjoy TAAS but it does take another kind of attention span than your usual hardcore fan—who’s about 30 pounds overweight and has hockey pucks in their ears—or those brutish dudes with no necks who think that you’re only as hardcore as the amount of tattoos you have. While they may take more than one listen to get into, this is a band that is most rewarding and is paving a new trail for the genre. There is something truly compelling about the protracted guitars and singer Steve Snere’s blistering take on melody. While TAAS’s members are in no way newbies at what they do, with Snere having been in Kill Sadie and with bassist/keyboardist Brian Cook having served his time in math rock pioneers Botch, all them (including new drummer Chris Common who also produced) play like they’re young and hungry and out to show everybody something different.

While not quite a concept album as much as a vibe that meanders around it, Easter is infused mostly with themes about the never ending locking of horns between honor and destruction with hints of the religious right being placed smack dab in the middle. Numbers include the fluctuant "Subtle Body" that amounts to a wobbly ass kicking and the scratchy "Desert Ghost" with a bobbling layer of feedback fizzing throughout. The most unified of Easter’s moments comes in the form of "Child Chicken Play" as the stringy guitars droop and fall while Common gets sparse with his drum patterns before the band as a whole crunches everything together out of leftfield to send a jolt to the listener as Snere screams "Like you always do!"

Even though TAAS is most consistent with jerky rhythms and punchy tempos, they can still throw down rallying cries and chants in the hooks that make the listener want to pump their fists in the air in the true old school hardcore fashion. Cook’s bass is pretty much at the epicenter in terms of how this band has evolved, as well as guitarist David Knutson, who seems to favor keeping his pickups nearby when executing a riff. It’s as if TAAS has gotten a massage, so to speak, within the last two years, which explains their looser and more sparse playing style. But like any good snake, its steadfastness makes it quick to bite when you least expect it.

Similar Albums:
Clutch – Passive Restraints
Waxwing – One for the Ride
Icarus Line – Red and Black Attack

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES DROP VIDEO, BREAK LIMBS, HEAD OVERSEAS


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Seattle’s noisemakers THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES are playing through the pain. After this year’s CMJ, covered in equal parts blood and sweat, the band hobbled off stage with a series of sprained limbs, at least one broken hand, and a roomful of dropped jaws.

The foursome have been out in support of their recent full length, , and night after night folks who might have seen them open for hometown compatriots Minus The Bear or The Blood Brothers in the past are confounded by a band that has developed into a massive headliner in their own right.

Critics have also been bowled over. Alternative Press wondered, "How many records released this year will make you think and sweat? I know of at least one" and Terrorizer echoed “[Easter is] Like Refused and Radiohead had a baby that avoided all the faults of its parents.” Even the ever hip URB magazine calls Easter "Some of the grooviest whatever-core you’ll hear all year"

Now most bands might consider the job done and simply pull up their pants and head home, but THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES are not nearly so lazy. The band recently completed work on their first proper video to date. Produced by Artificial Army [Mars Volta, Thursday, Coheed and Cambria] the video is an equal parts homage to innocence lost as it is an expose on the image obsessed underbelly of celebrity culture; replete with drugs, handclaps, pulsing privates, and a wide eyed pink pony.

The band finishes up it’s full US tour this month, before headed to the UK for a few pints and back for their first hometown stop, December 15th at Neumo’s. 2007 will see the bands slaying non-stop, first stop? A trip to Japan with Boris & Isis. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Easter is also now available for online .

TRACK LISTING

1. Mescaline Eyes
2.
3. Subtle Body
4. Desert Ghost
5. Child Chicken Play
6. Hell’s Bank Notes
7. Abracadabraca
8. Deer Lodge
9. Lady North
10. Perpetual Bris
11. Coporeal
12. Crazy Woman Dirty Train

Vinyl is available from

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

Seattle, Washington is a gold mine?°¦anyone who says otherwise is just foolish. It has been the birthplace of monumental bands like Botch, Deadguy, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Murder City Devils, Akimbo, Minus the Bear, Rocky Votolato, The Blood Brothers, and so on and so forth. Of course Botch split to form Roy, Minus the Bear, and These Arms Are Snakes (as well as Of Alaska). Now one EP, one split, and two full lengths into their career, These Arms Are Snakes seem to be on top of the world. With this new genre defying album called Easter, they work to solidify their place as one of the top indie bands in the US; Seattle Weekly Magazine agreed, voting them as the punk/hardcore band of 2006.

Being a big fan of their previous efforts, I was predisposed to liking These Arms Are Snakes, but they have far exceeded the standards set in that aspect. It became increasingly clearer with each album that TAAS put out that they were more than just a sum of their parts, they had taken on a life of their own and this record really displays it. Their sound is dominated by a low end heavy assault that teams up long time bass magician Brian Cook with a new drummer by the name of Chris Common, who is also a superb record producer (putting his touch on this album behind the boards). With a barrage of guitar effects, sludgy and spacey tones, and intricate riffs provided by Ryan Frederiksen (who may be one of my candidates for guitarist of the year) to be a companion to Brian and Chris, the album will draw you in like a sailor to a siren’s song. Add Steve Snere at the forefront, and there isn’t much that TAAS can’t do. The album lyrics are laced with a theme of religion, the desert, and ghosts that helps to tie the whole project together.

When talking about These Arms Are Snakes, you run into interesting situations. They’re a band that is groundbreaking, and often imitated by other acts. Like so many people have said before, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so it just goes to show that the world appreciates what TAAS is doing, and how could they not? These Arms Are Snakes are meticulous in their song creation, plotting each riff like it was brain surgery. Every song is a new experiment in sonic creativity, an aural adventure if you prefer to word it that way. It is clear that they worry about structure (or a lack thereof), transitions, and how the overall product will come out. They aren’t a band to say “oh that sounds cool, let’s force it into a song we already wrote”.

In conclusion: These Arms Are Snakes are an example of everything that is right with music right now: originality, creativity, talent, and heart. I consider it a privilege and an honor to review any of their albums. And you should consider it a civil duty to buy their album and support them.

Rocks Like: really… no one.

Rating: 100/100

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

It’s always great to see people step out of the shadows of their former bands. These Arms Are Snakes bassist Brian Cook spent years playing in mathcore pioneers Botch, but after the initial rush of people judging his new band by the standards of his old band, the time has come for those comparisons to be squashed for good. Not even operating in a similar vein as Botch, their objective is to create something original and new. Didn’t bands forget how to do that years ago?

Of course, These Arms Are Snakes owe debts to noise rock bands that have come before them, such as Drive Like Jehu, but what they really excel at is taking those influences and melding them into a sound that is truly exciting. No song on Easter is a better example of their confidence than the opener, “Mescaline Eyes.” Like a suave ladies’ man on the prowl, the song swaggers into your brain with some downright viciously danceable riffing, keeping the energy up for nearly five minutes. A big strength that These Arms Are Snakes have is their ability to have disco-influenced beats without sounding like a Gang of Four rip-off, as so many bands do today. They have enough sensibility to know that if you’re going to put rhythms like that in your songs, you need to offer the listener an extra bonus on top of it. And they do that in spades. Guitarist Ryan Frederiksen assaults the listener with lots of hammer-on riffs that are always so perfectly crafted to fit what Brian Cook is putting down under him. Occasionally switching to a distorted organ only adds to their variety, as they never go over the top with it.

Also stepping out of his own shadow from Kill Sadie, Steve Snere has upped his worth in These Arms Are Snakes by turning in his best performance yet. For a vocalist that doesn’t play an instrument, Snere plays the biggest role he possibly can. He seems to have a highly educated understanding of how to put vocals to the sometimes challenging songs that his band writes. Only sporadically does he do a full-on scream, and when he does, it’s electric. His favored style is switching from a blistering yell in the intense parts to a drunken but determined snarl in the subdued parts. This works really well, especially when it’s delivering the best lyrics Snere has written so far, providing another unique aspect of their package.

These Arms Are Snakes deserve to be one of the biggest bands in the world. Despite their tendencies to push the noise element of their sound to the extreme, their songs remain relentlessly catchy and always memorable. Easter is by far the best recording they’ve done, both sonically and musically. It’s going to be hard for them to ever top this, but with how much they’ve grown since their first EP, they might just surprise us all again.

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

The chilly month of October is half over, and while most people may be looking forward to the spooky thrills of Halloween, These Arms Are Snakes are giving us the gift of “Easter” instead- and their second full-length on Jade Tree Records was certainly worth the two year wait. Even though I wouldn’t say that “Easter” is a huge step away from the content of 2003’s “This Was Meant To Hurt You” EP or 2004’s “Oxeneers, or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home,” it certainly embodies the spirit and passion of both previous releases but delivers every song to a new level of perfection. These Arms Are Snakes’ unique brand of raucous post-hardcore implements heavy side-winding guitars, Steve Snere’s menacing vocals, complexity of song structure and an overall chilling atmosphere that will draw listeners in for good. It’s about time this band gets the recognition it deserves.

These Arms Are Snakes was founded in 2003 with the union of ex-members from Seattle’s notable math/metal rockers Botch, as well as Nineironspitfire, and Minneapolis’s Kill Sadie. Because of the member lineup’s notoriety, the band has struggled in finding its own identity- but each new release has proved that TAAS is capable of creating music that has an influential sound of its own. Their live show is incredible as well- I got hooked on TAAS last year after catching them on tour with their Seattle buddies Minus the Bear. I was impressed by their formidable stage energy which included Snere climbing atop trash cans to spew his hostile message while towering above the audience.

Don’t let the title “Easter” fool you because it is most likely poking fun at religious enthusiasts rather than seriously referencing the resurrection of Christ. Snere is quoted in Rock Sound Magazine saying, “No guy who claims there was this huge flood and some dude built a boat full of fucking animals is in a position to tell me that my life is wrong,” while guitarist Ryan Fredericksen has told Alternative Press that, “It seems really odd to me that Christianity is such a big deal in punk rock right now.” But whether or not you’re into religion doesn’t make a difference because “Easter” is still an album meant for everyone’s ears to hear. TAAS spent the last year meticulously working on the record and their hard work has paid off. “Easter” was recorded in Seattle at Red Room Recording by TAAS’s new drummer Chris Common, who also took over the title of producer.

The album’s first track “Mescaline Eyes,” begins with a down tempo distorted intro that explodes into an aggressive rock ?°»n’ roll guitar riff as Snere’s spiteful snarls fill the air. This is the perfect track to set example for the rest of the album, and combines staccato guitar riffs with eerie synth to complete the package. The album’s single, “Horse Girl” continues in the same fashion with energetic guitar riffs, heavy bass, and technical yet groovy drum beats. I would say that “Subtle Body” is the highlight of the album because of the intricate guitar parts and grueling tension that builds as Snere wrathfully chants over and over, “Reorder / redirect / stop fighting / disinfect / cold skin / implements / warm feeling / in the neck.” Listening to this song makes me feel like I’m part of a fist-pumping riot as the chanting builds up into a tremendous breakdown and orgasm of sound. Commons does a stellar job drumming on this album; there are many drum fills where his talent is brought to the front and captured my attention. After “Subtle Body” the album breaks from the action for a slow interlude of distorted keys and drumming before hitting you with the pensive keyboard and guitar combo of “Child Chicken Play.” “Deer Lodge,” is a rollercoaster of dynamic sound with its competing layers of guitar and synth, along with Snere’s ever impending emotion. “Lady North” brings you back to TAAS’s dirty, grimy style displaying Frederiksen’s southern guitar riffs while “Perpetual Bris” is completely unexpected but shows how versatile TAAS can be with its slow wistful tune, melancholy accordion, and insightful lyrics. “You were born of sin / and if that ain’t a curse / then I don’t know what is.” “Easter” ends on a hard, direct note with the technical guitar work and drumming of “Crazy Woman Dirty Train.”

Overall I thought this album was a great follow-up to “Oxeneers.” These Arms Are Snakes have proved that they can retain a standout sound of their own, and have figured out how to improve upon that sound with each new album. This is one band that is truly distinguishable in today’s dying music scene of poppy emo/screamo artists- These Arms Are Snakes know how to keep it real.

Overall Rating: 8.5

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.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

We’re a nation at war. Not just at war in far-flung Middle-Eastern hellhole quagmires, either; that’s just one battle in a greater war, a war that’s fought each day on the home front, in polling places and public policy. It’s a battle that has 21st-centry liberal thinkers pitted against the bibles-and-banks agenda of the right and it’s much deeper than blue-state/red-state voting trends. It’s evolution versus creationism, stem cell research versus a dark-ages fear of science, gay marriage versus homophobia. It’s enlightenment versus faith, and whether you know it or not, you know exactly which side is yours.

These Arms Are Snakes’ second full-length, Easter (Jade Tree), leaves no doubt on which side of the bed the Seattle art-punk noisemakers sit. They’re checking the box that says "Enlightenment." Moving past the one-sided atheist arguments that traditionally pit punks against the notion of spirituality, Easter walks a more slippery slope, namely that spirituality in all its colors isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the fundamentalist rank-and-file that’s so often confused with faith and devotion is a mortal sin no matter what your denomination.

That might sound like Easter is a call to compromise. It’s not. These Arms Are Snakes lay out an agenda that recognizes the enemy, right-wingers who dangle the threat of eternal damnation over the flock to serve as an engine to drive a socio-political agenda. With the enemy identified, Easter launches barrage after barrage against it. "Perpetual Bris" challenges believers to test their faith as the band (singer Steve Snere, guitarist Ryan Frederiksen, keyboardist/bassist Brian Cook and drummer Chris Common) back away from the clamorous post-hardcore of its past to mix acoustic guitar and atmospheric ambiences for a decidedly low-key number. "Child Chicken Play" offers buzzing guitars that recognize intensity isn’t merely a function of volumes to deliver a creepy tale of misplaced faith, while "Lady North" picks up the pile-driving dynamics and firebomb guitars to weave a tale of spiritual breakdown and a loss of faith. These Arms Are Snakes want listeners to question their beliefs, and questions, as we’ve been told by hundreds of years of theologians, is anathema to faith. The gauntlet’s thrown down.

While Easter takes on an issue that’s possibly the most divisive and fundamental one in today’s cultural landscape, These Arms Are Snakes are keeping the battle focused and close to home. Easter may challenge the lynchpin beliefs of everyone from Focus on the Family’s inner circle and the evangelical/Republican voting bloc to eager youth-group recruiters and Sunday-school devotees, but it has a more specific target in mind.

"It’s about Christians in the punk world. Christianity has become a big part of, I don’t even want to use the term ‘punk,’ but all these Christians tend to be into punk bands," guitarist Frederiksen complains. "It’s just more about questioning religion and questioning yourself and not just blindly following whatever it is people tell you to do."

If there’s a band that has the perspective to comment on faith’s slow, steady infiltration of the punk world, it’s These Arms Are Snakes. Although the act’s still relatively young — it first came together in Seattle in 2003 — its members aren’t new to the scene. Keyboardist/bassist Cook helped draw up the post-hardcore blueprint in Botch, which ran its course between 1993 and 2001, while front man Snere is one of seemingly dozens of Kill Sadie alumni who popped up since the hardcore act threw in the towel in 2001. The band members, whose ages hovers around the 30-year-old mark, have been around the block — several times, in fact — and know a thing or two about punk, hardcore and its atrophying allegiance to independent thought.

Although These Arms Are Snakes turns its ire toward the punk underground on Easter, the scene’s nothing but a microcosm of American culture. From attempts to slip religion into school curriculum through the backdoor of intelligent design to rabble-rousing to enforce a faith-based interpretation of marriage upon legal definitions of love, hard-lining Christians aren’t content to keep their beliefs to their faith. They’re pushing them into any venue that will accept it.

"This record was kind of a backlash on that for us," Frederiksen says. "That’s what Easter is about. It’s about how Christianity seeped into punk rock, which is strange in itself, because punk rock, in its ideals, was always against religion. A lot of Christianity just seeped its way into the mainstream the past couple years. That’s totally insane to all of us. This is kind of our reaction to it."

Easter loudly proclaims its defiance toward the Evangelical right on every twist and turn, but it also sneaks in another agenda, albeit a musical one: The quest to keep the underground fresh, challenging and interesting. Where the band’s previous effort, Oxeneers, or the Lion Sleeps When the Antelope Go Home (2004, Jade Tree) reveled in angular guitars and noisy bursts of tortured rhythms, Easter showcases a band that’s grown weary of the race for hardcore bands to become the fastest, hardest, most spastic outfit on the block. TAAS still maintains a love for juggernaut post-hardcore riffs of its members’ previous outfits, but it supplements them with melodic, quiet stretches that don’t just make its louds seem louder by comparison. They also add textures, depth and dynamics almost universally lost in the post-hardcore arms race to become the loudest, baddest band on the block.

That approach to post-hardcore’s a marked change away from the increasingly juvenile sounds pandered by most of today’s acts. What was once a scene dominated by artistically minded punks making a conscious effort to escape the confines of the punk world’s expectations is now just another facet of the scene’s codified caste system.

Easter yanks post-hardcore out of the hands of geeky high-school scenesters and MySpace centurions. In fact, it’s one of those rare punk albums that sit better with fans who’ve reached their mid-20s better than the stereotypical hoodrat punk kid. The flavors of maturity that color the album are no coincidence Frederiksen explains.

"I turn 30 in a couple months," he says. "You start getting a little more jaded as you get older. It’s like ‘Where the fuck are the good bands? This fucking sucks!’ I just feel jaded by all these younger bands and all these little kids playing shit music. I’m totally jaded."

Maybe not totally jaded. After all, Frederiksen and company haven’t jumped ship and fled the punk scene yet. They’re making punk rock that’s as vital and artistic as anything else out there. That alone should be enough to scrape the frost off any jaded scenester’s heart.

The fact that These Arms Are Snakes have been able to build an audience of their peers — the sort of twentysomething and thirtysomething weaned, then soured on punk — should be an even better reason to warm your heart. There’s a troubling trend of aging punk veterans taking the stage and playing to audiences made up of fans half their age. Easter transcends the teenage thrills that hold most punk acts together, to find a sound that connects with These Arms Are Snakes’ peers.

"It’s weird, I just overheard Jordan from the Blood Brothers saying that they’ve been a band for 10 years now and their audience has not changed in age," Frederiksen says. "It’s been, when they started out, it was kids the same age as them, and then 10 years later, it’s kids still that age. It’s a bit disheartening because you want your audience to grow with you. I just don’t know why that doesn’t happen. Maybe other people get jaded before 30. Maybe they get jaded and move on. I think we kind of have a bit of an older audience which is awesome, but the problem is, they don’t buy anything!"

Easter revives the spirit, if not the exact sound, of classic punk. It draws a line, takes a side and forces listeners to do the same. It’s unabashedly liberal and humanist. Best of all, it’s not rehashing the same three chords again and again. When a band does that, there’s no questioning which side of the cultural war it enlists. TAAS is here for enlightenment.

But how realistic is it to hope for the pendulum to swing away from the religious tomfoolery that’s colored everything from the domestic agenda to the punk scene in recent years? Is These Arms’ message going to get heard?

Whether or not the band’s heard, change is inevitable, Frederiksen predicts. Politics will shift with fickle voters just as music and fashion trends will move on. The culture wars will rage on, and, after losing ground to a faith-based agenda, rational humanism will once again gain ground — and help bring balance back to the punk world.

"I think it’s going to come back around," he says. "I think it’s been such a shitty couple years for Bush, I think the backlash is on its way. Hopefully the next election, we’ll see a huge shift in politics and in turn, that’ll shift back to music and stuff as well.

"I think it is just a cool commodity kind of thing," Frederiksen says. "I think the cool thing to do is to be "into punk rock" for little kids. Eventually, that’s going to turn and people aren’t going to give a shit about these mainstream punk bands anymore. That’s exactly what they are, they’re mainstream. The mainstream is going to go a different direction and we’ll still be here."

GUILTY PLEASURES

Ours
Lifting weights
I know what you’re thinking: Since when is exercise a guilty pleasure? But bear with me for a minute here. I’ve spent the past few years of my life enmeshed in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. The underbelly, if you will. Pretty unhealthy place. When I’m not writing about bands, I’m playing in one. It’s the type of music usually performed by wispy, androgynous, stick-figure boys who stay up all night smoking and drinking too much, even — gasp! — inhaling every now and again. The only difference with me is, when the haze passes, I’m up at the gym the next day . And the next day. Compulsively. Now, the natural enemy of rock bands everywhere is the steakhead, those overly muscled guys in white baseball hats famous for their insensitivity to the nuances of indie rock, fashion, and all manner of taste. In the rock scene, where looking the part means almost everything, you can imagine the disconnect I feel. Almost as if having muscles were some betrayal of the rock ‘n’ roll code. But ultimately, like most artificial constructs, style is pretty meaningless. I can promise you, listening to Morrissey or the Decemberists or Cat Power will still break your heart, whether you’re alone in your bedroom or in the middle of a bench press.

Theirs (Ryan Frederiksen of the Seattle punk band These Arms Are Snakes )
Third Eye Blind
Do you remember that movie "Can’t Hardly Wait" ? Yeah, me too. I couldn’t wait for another Third Eye Blind (you heard me) song to come on the soundtrack, because I think they just put every damn song on there from that self-titled masterpiece. I even went so far as to claim "I was out of my head" on a trip to New York just to justify buying it. I needed it. I defy you to listen to "Never Let You Go" [from the album "Blue"] and tell me that’s not a brilliant song.

These Arms Are Snakes play the Middle East Upstairs tomorrow night. Doors at 8; $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Got a guilty pleasure you’d like to share? E-mail guiltypleasures.sidekick@gmail.com.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES: A STUDY IN ANATOMY GONE WRONG

After listening to Seattle foursome These Arms are Snakes’ raucous new album Easter, several thoughts will no doubt resonate in everyone’s minds: firstly, who are these intriguingly noisy rockers, why do they have snakes instead of arms, and most importantly, what exactly is the relationship between "suspect animism, impending otherworldly doom and the ethereal battle between virtue and ruin," as their MySpace page declares? "Oh" laughed guitarist Ryan Frederiksen, "[that] was mostly written by the publicist!…the writer went nuts. It’s totally rhetorical".

Spawned from the ashes of their former bands Kill Sadie and Minus the Bear, These Arms are Snakes is a powerful testament to all things heavy, abrasive and experimental. Critics repeatedly characterize their sound as post-hardcore (and their verbose publicist agrees), but elements of punk and industrial are also alluded to. "I can see the punk aspect, because [our music is] obnoxious, but I can’t say I see the industrial side of it. I don’t know why [people would say that], it’s not like we’re Ministry" remarked Frederiksen. Ministry they are not, but similar acts such as At the Drive-In and The Blood Brothers draw a close comparison. Call them hardcore, call them punk, but if you really want Frederiksen to like you, call them Abba. "NO!!" wailed Frederiksen with a laugh. Rather, Led Zeppelin is for him the highest praise you could ever bestow on them.

Despite coming from different bands and cities, the four eventually all got together in Seattle. "I’ve known [bassist] Brian for a long time, both our previous bands used to play together" said Frederisksen. "[Vocalist] Steve moved to Seattle with his old band, and that’s how we met him. Then all those bands broke up [by now] we went through four drummers We met [current drummer and producer] Chris through Minus the Bear. He moved to Seattle, we asked him to join, and he kindly obliged". Brian Cook, along with Frederiksen, take on dual roles of keyboardist and organist.

In 2003, the band released their debut full-length Oxeneers, or The Lion Sleeps When its Antelope Go Home, followed by the 5 track EP This Is Meant to Hurt You. Three years later, Easter took shape, an album that promises to differ in that it is paradoxically more structured yet experimental: "We spent a lot more time writing and recording this time around, we actually had a real drummer, a phenomenal drummer; he helped us. We spent more time in the studio, [had] more time to reflect on songs, and if it wasn’t working we had the time to change it." That the album title connotes re-birth and renewal although the band described the record as "hostile", makes it clear that the notion of contradiction is something the band consciously wants to interpolate into the album. "This is the paradox. This record is a little more confrontational. Things have gone a little strangely in the punk rock world, Christianity made its way into the mainstream [it] seems ironic to us, a little weird. I guess this is our answer to that. We touch loosely on all religion, a lot of those subjects. [We] took the idea behind Oxeneers and delved a little further into the darker side of things."

Indeed, a lot of what These Arms Are Snakes do is rather somber, musically and lyrically, but this certainly doesn’t detract from the craftsmanship, which is tight, intricately layered and produced to near perfection. Equally impressive is the actual diversity of all 12 tracks, so you don’t risk losing interest too quickly. A song like "Horse Girl" rages with continual momentum while "Hell’s Bank Notes" provides a quiet 45 second mid-album interlude of sorts until the last second when "Abracadabraca" seriously explodes likes a dysfunctional clown crashing a children’s party. The only real deviation from the heavy formula is the acoustic "Perpetual Bris", a calmer piece filled with haunting organs and Biblically-referenced lyrics.

If you can’t tell already, Frekeriksen is a funny, laid-back kind of guy. In fact, with a band name such as theirs, it’s difficult to think that any of these guys take themselves too seriously, which begs the question: which one of them is the anatomical phenomenon with snakes instead of arms? "All of us! It’s very useful" Frederiksen said. "Other times, not so much. We all fully represent!" Given the unanimous success the band has seen with Easter, clearly it’s time to ditch band practice and go get yourself some snakes for arms!

These Arms Are Snakes play le Petite Campus Oct. 28.

57 Prince Arthur East.
Opening Acts:

Young Widows
Mouth of the Architect

Tickets are $13

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

Easter, the second and highly anticipated full-length from These Arms Are Snakes, is finally upon us. But just how anticipated was this album? Well it is no coincidence that the album leaked to the Internet three months prior to its official release date. It’s also no coincidence that every review that I’ve read has been written by a journalist smitten by Easter. People love this band, a lot. I am no different; I have been dreamy-eyed with These Arms Are Snakes since hearing This is Meant to Hurt You and am just as infatuated now as ever before.

It is often said that the first song on an album sets the tone for everything that follows. Though I doubt These Arms are Snakes took this into consideration, they really know how to get things rolling. These Arms Are Snakes begin with “Mescaline Eyes,” a nearly five-minute track composed of everything that makes this band so damn good: Ryan Frederiksen’s angular guitar notes, the vibrant bass playing of Brian Cook, tasteful drumming provided by newcomer and producer Chris Common that is never too overbearing but always prevalent, a variety of keyboard and guitar effects adding a whole other dimension to the sound, and Steve Snere’s emotive vocals – both sung and soft-spoken – that add to the atmosphere and mood created by the music. There is even a unique solo – it appears to be a combination of guitars, bass, and keys – at the halfway mark of the song that brought to mind 70′s psychedelic rock or recent stoner-metal groups like Witch.

“Horse Girl” follows with a bit more upbeat tempo than the preceding song. Common did an excellent job highlighting the bass work of Cook, which is what I feel is the distinguishing element of These Arms Are Snakes’ sound. Another interesting turn of events is in the latter portion of the song where Snere lets lose some intense screams. This is a little out of character for him, but it’s an addition that, if used more in the future, could take the band to a whole other level.

The highlight moment of Easter comes in the form of “Subtle Body.” The song opens with a rather ominous vibe provided by Cook’s keys. After that opening sequence, Cook’s bassplaying takes over and leads the music towards its final destination. His work on bass is truly impeccable throughout this song and the entire album for that matter. It is perfectly accented by Frederiksen’s guitars, which transition through a variety of different styles – twisting one moment, atmospheric the next – over the course of the song. At times its almost as though the two are dancing with each other.

This is followed up by “Desert Ghost,” an instrumental interlude that is comprised of a simple drum arrangement and keys that almost sound like bells. Mixed amongst the two is a multitude of swirling noise effects. These Arms Are Snakes throw in another interlude later, “Hell’s Bank Notes.” This one, however, is essentially nothing more than spaced-out atmospheric noise that elevates in volume as the seconds run off.

By now, as a seasoned fan of These Arms Are Snakes, I can say that I’ve got some idea of what the typical style of the band is. “Child Chicken Play” and “Abracadabra” are good examples of this, the latter of which is quite reminiscent of the sound found on Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When its Antelopes Go Home. But it is nice to see the band experiment with styles outside of those boundaries, even if they are hypothetical ones that I drew up myself. “Perpetual Bris,” is an acoustic number that features the use of an accordion (can’t remember the last time I heard one of those in music that wasn’t polka), something I never really would have guessed them to experiment with. It actually sounds quite a bit like brother-band Roy. The song also features the vocal talents of Cook; its really intriguing when the main vocalist allows one of his fellow band members handle the vocal duties. Cook’s contribution is different, but it still evokes great emotion; I was quite pleased with how the song came out.

On the other hand we have the album closer, “Crazy Woman Dirty Train.” It is here that These Arms Are Snakes are at their most frantic and urgent. Midway through there is a series of repeating riffs as Snere yells out repeatedly “Though it was love that once pumped through these veins, I was also loved once. Once.” Then the band cuts loose; the pace quickens to a rate I’ve never heard them perform at as Snere shouts out his words. And then it all falls apart into a mathy breakdown of highly distorted bass, keys, and guitars. It’s really a feat that needs to be heard; I know my words aren’t doing it justice.

Lyrically, Snere writes in a rather obtuse format. His thoughts seem to be a series of standards thoughts and metaphors arranged in a James Joyce inspired stream of consciousness. And while they are not nearly as bad as The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala, they still remain rather vague in their meaning. It’d be an interesting conversation to sit down with Snere to decipher the words’ true meaning, especially since his vocals come off as though they are saying so much more than just the words that roll of his tongue. I actually feel bad for not understanding them at times.

Easter is truly a listening experience. Regardless of how it rates in comparison to These Arms Are Snakes’ other material, Easter is an outstanding record, one that should not be passed up by anyone.

9.0/10

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES "EASTER" (JT1118) CD OUT TODAY


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THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES second full length for Jade Tree finds the Seattle foursome towing a proverbial line between paradox, hostility and a caustic blend of post-hard/math core. Retaining the definitive tension and angular force of earlier THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES efforts, is the year-long culmination of a more structured yet experimental song writing process for the band. Recorded at Red Room Recording in Seattle by TAAS drummer Chris Common, Easter explores the relationship between suspect animism, impending other wordly doom and the ethereal battle between virtue and ruin. More than anything from THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES‘ back catalog, Easter was meant to hurt you.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES have just embarked on a US/Canadian tour. The Snakes are on the road until October 14 with Thrice and Planes Mistaken for Stars. From therein, the band will be joined by label mates YOUNG WIDOWS from October 20 through November 11. See the for full details.

is out today and available in digital form from , eMusic, Urge, Yahoo, Virgin Digital, FYE, HMV, and Cdigix.

Easter is also now available for online .

TRACK LISTING

1. Mescaline Eyes
2.
3. Subtle Body
4. Desert Ghost
5. Child Chicken Play
6. Hell’s Bank Notes
7. Abracadabraca
8. Deer Lodge
9. Lady North
10. Perpetual Bris
11. Coporeal
12. Crazy Woman Dirty Train

Vinyl is available from

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 BRING EASTER EARLY


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After taking the time to expand on the promise of their stellar , THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES are back with their most eloquent and potent release to date. The band spent the last months holed away honing their squawking and abrasive sound into the daunting Easter, due out October 10th. This second proper full length finds the Seattle foursome towing a proverbial line between paradox, hostility and a caustic blend of post-hard/math core. Retaining the definitive tension and angular force of earlier THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES efforts, Easter is the year-long culmination of a more structured yet experimental song writing process. Recorded at Red Room Recording in Seattle by drummer Chris Common, Easter explores the relationship between suspect animism, impending otherwordly doom and the ethereal battle between virtue and ruin. More than anything from THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES’ back catalog, Easter was meant to hurt you.

"a post-punk swagger — gently profiling residents of a mental ward. The band’s got heart, too." – Blender

"[A] gleaming, polished gem." – Tiny Mix Tapes

"THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES have clearly created a distinct sound and are doing something only the Blood Brothers can come close to right now in terms being interesting, inventive and still rocking hard. " – Cokemachineglow

"A challenging debut that sidesteps inflated expectations by staying close to the group’s established sound while still demonstrating a flexibility conducive to future musical development." – Pitchforkmedia

"Even if Oxeneers doesn’t move you, it’ll surely floor you." – Alternative Press

The Snakes will be bringing Easter to the masses in a matter of days, so don’t miss the show in your hood. Check out the for updates and the full info.

THE DATES

10/8 – 10/14 with Thrice, Planes Mistaken for Stars
10/20 – 11/7 with Young Widows

09/22/2006 Richland, WA @ Ray’s Golden Lion
09/23/2006 Yakima, WA @ Yakima Sports Center
10/08/2006 San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
10/09/2006 San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
10/10/2006 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
10/12/2006 Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
10/13/2006 Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock – The Joint
10/14/2006 San Diego, CA @ SOMA
10/17/2006 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
10/18/2006 Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Saloon
10/19/2006 Iowa City, IA @ The Picador
10/20/2006 Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
10/21/2006 Milwaukee, WI @ The Cactus Club
10/22/2006 Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig
10/24/2006 Cleveland Hts, OH @ Grog Shop
10/26/2006 Toronto, ON Canada @ Kathedral
10/28/2006 Montreal, QC Canada @ Petit Campus
10/29/2006 Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East
11/01/2006 Providence, RI @ The Living Room
11/02/2006 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
11/04/2006 Washington, DC @ The Black Cat
11/07/2006 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
11/08/2006 Tallahassee, FL @ Club Down Under
11/09/2006 Orlando, FL @ AKA Lounge
11/10/2006 Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbit’s
11/11/2006 Gainesville, FL @ Common Grounds
11/13/2006 Houston, TX @ Walter’s on Washington
11/14/2006 Austin, TX @ Emo’s
11/15/2006 Denton, TX @ Hailey’s
11/20/2006 Tucson, AZ @ Skrappy’s
11/20/2006 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill

Easter will be released on October 10, 2006 and is available for .

TRACK LISTING

1. Mescaline Eyes
2.
3. Subtle Body
4. Desert Ghost
5. Child Chicken Play
6. Hell’s Bank Notes
7. Abracadabraca
8. Deer Lodge
9. Lady North
10. Perpetual Bris
11. Coporeal
12. Crazy Woman Dirty Train

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 "EASTER" CD (JT1118) PRE-ORDER INFO AND MP3


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THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES second full length for Jade Tree finds the Seattle foursome towing a proverbial line between paradox, hostility and a caustic blend of post-hard/math core. Retaining the definitive tension and angular force of earlier THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES efforts, is the year-long culmination of a more structured yet experimental song writing process for the band. Recorded at Red Room Recording in Seattle by TAAS drummer Chris Common, Easter explores the relationship between suspect animism, impending other wordly doom and the ethereal battle between virtue and ruin. More than anything from THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES‘ back catalog, Easter was meant to hurt you.

Easter will be released on October 10, 2006 and is available for .

TRACK LISTING

1. Mescaline Eyes
2.
3. Subtle Body
4. Desert Ghost
5. Child Chicken Play
6. Hell’s Bank Notes
7. Abracadabraca
8. Deer Lodge
9. Lady North
10. Perpetual Bris
11. Coporeal
12. Crazy Woman Dirty Train