October 31, 2006
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.
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